Monday 24th Sep, 2018

The Grill: Claire Jordan-Whillans

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What does your role entail?
My role at VICT began as Media and Community Relations Manager, in order to forge good connections to our local community and manage media enquiries relating to the development of VICT’s new international container terminal at Webb Dock East. It’s a role that I have truly enjoyed, especially when it comes to the time of year when we run our community grants program which focusses on youth and young people in our local communities. As VICT evolves, so do the roles within the company, one of the many things I really enjoy about working for a start-up, and I have been able to branch out into PR, marketing, sustainability management and stakeholder engagement. Our parent company, ICTSI, reward passion and dedication with opportunities to grow in the workplace and they are certainly empowering me to develop as a member of their team as their business expands. I absolutely love it and I’m really excited about my journey with VICT.

How did you get started in the industry?
The job at VICT is my first venture into stevedoring. My background is in television production and broadcasting which I began working in while sitting my final exams at university. I was on my second “career” as a stayat-home-parent raising my two sons and the youngest was about to start school. I had become involved in local government politics and various voluntary roles within my community when I heard about the role at VICT from a fellow mum during a playground conversation – a surprisingly great place to network. She was originally a lawyer who had given up practising law in order to pursue her passion in communications and she was doing really well. She convinced me that my skills were right for the job, it just meant a change of industry and regaining my career confidence which tends to erode when you are out of the paid workforce and at home raising children. I sat through two interviews for the VICT role and almost three years later, I have never looked back.

What are some career highlights?
Any situation which allows me to share my passion about VICT is always a highlight as far as I’m concerned. Whether it was running the community meet and greets during our construction phase to educate our neighbours about the terminal, or proudly showing a local community group around who had been instrumental in helping us source sustainable lighting which wouldn’t project light into their apartments at night – shared value outcomes for me are always the best and deliver the most job satisfaction. In a previous life working in television, I would have to say that meeting and filming Buzz Aldrin at his home in LA was a pretty special career highlight.

What was your first job?
My first real paid job was during my finals at university when I worked as a Production Secretary on the game show, The Price Is Right. It was certainly an eye-opener to the world of television entertainment. I had to deal daily with organising writers, directors, producers, models and audience members who were chosen to appear on the show as contestants. I could tell you a million stories about the kind of situations I had to navigate and resolve but it allowed me to learn how to deal with a myriad of different personalities and achieve positive outcomes – a baptism by fire for learning about stakeholder engagement.

What are your hobbies?
At this stage in my life, my hobbies are my two sons, Joseph, 9, and Harry, 7. Luckily, watching them learn to swim, play soccer and basketball are all pursuits which fit well with my love of sport, if vicariously so. When I get time to myself, I read and partake in a book club (which could be called the cake, cheese and wine appreciation club) and I am a massive film buff having worked as a script writer and story editor in my previous life. I have a very annoying habit of being able to pick most twists in a film or TV show early on.

What’s your favourite television program or movie?
Favourite TV show ever was Breaking Bad and it’s always difficult for me to get past American Beauty, The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption as far as favourite movies go.

What character would you play in a movie?
Is it wrong to want to play a male character? (I am definitely no Bridget Jones.) I was brought up on the Charles Bronson Death Wish movies with a healthy love of the vigilante and revenge genre. I’d play Bronson’s character, Paul Kersey, or Clint Eastwood as ‘Dirty Harry’ Callaghan. Interesting (and perhaps slightly worrying) that I named my second son Harry…!

What was your biggest fashion faux pas?
I’m a child of the seventies so where do I even begin? Definitely the brown velour tracksuits which I wore as a kid would have to be up there on the list. In later years, I learned to avoid any fleece-related fashions which I went through a phase of wearing. Comfort lost out to my friends ordering me to develop a fashion sense.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I grew up being forced to play the piano and violin under the tutorship of a grumpy old lady who was about a million years old and had no patience with me. Needless to say, I rapidly gave up learning both up as soon as I could out-argue my parents. If only they’d sent me for electric guitar lessons. Guess it’s never too late to learn so may add that to my bucket list. I am great at air guitar though…

What three items would you take if you were deserted on an island?
A lifetime supply of sun-cream (I burn as soon as I look at the sun), a never-emptying lunchbox (thank Enid Blyton for that one) and does Ed Sheeran count as an item? That would sort out my need for music.

Where’s your favourite holiday destination?
We are so spoilt in Australia that it’s really difficult to move beyond our own shores when answering this question. When you’ve grown up in the middle of England without a beach in sight, Australian beaches just blow you away. The first time I ever visited the Whitsundays and walked on the white squeaky sands of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, I literally thought I’d arrived in paradise. Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef will also be a hard experience to beat so I guess my answer would have to be The Whitsundays.

If you or someone you know would like to be a future subject of The Grill, please email editorial@thedcn.com.au

From the print edition January 19, 2017





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