We had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Trisha Morrison. She’s 2022’s winner of the Priyani de Silva-Currie Emerging Asset Management Professional Scholarship.

The Journey

While Trisha is living in peace and tranquillity in rural Te Hoe, Waikato, her career is in full swing with infrastructure asset management.

“This year has been a bit of a roller coaster. I got married earlier this year. I’ve been doing our leadership programme at work, which made me believe in myself. It’s ultimately how I ended up getting the scholarship. Because the Trisha of two years ago probably wouldn’t have ever applied. But I’ve learned to put myself out there, to not be afraid of failure.

Winning this scholarship has given me the opportunity to stretch myself more, and it’s a really rewarding experience. Jennifer Foss, a young protégé that I’m working with, was quite chuffed when I got the scholarship on IPWEA NZ’s Awards Night and rang me excitedly saying “You won! You won!”. She’s the next generation I want to inspire. In my profession, I’m often the only female in the room. So, when I read her comment “you’ve got at least one young female convinced it’s the best career path”, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. That’s what it is all about, inspiring the next female generation.

In my journey, one person saw the potential in me, and he opened my eyes. My former manager saw my transferable skills in data management and administration, and he took me under his wing. And he’s still a mentor to this day. That’s what makes me want to bring the potential out in others, because of what an influence he was on my career.”

What does a Community Assets Manager do?

“Now, as the Community Assets Manager at Waikato District Council, I help manage all the infrastructure classes that the council is responsible for. We cover everything, from roading, open spaces, and public facilities, to community venues. We’re responsible for putting together asset management plans, the asset management strategy (SAMP) and the infrastructure strategy. We help asset owners look after their data and management functions. We also help project manage annual re-valuations and resolve any arising queries.

We’ve recently undertaken a big revision of our asset management policy. We want to improve our maturity in this space, and we’re building up the skillset, so we can take it a step further again. We’ve got a big responsibility – with a portfolio worth approximately $1.8 billion. We’ve got the largest roading network in the North Island, with about two and a half thousand kilometres of roading.”

What is your vision for the future?

“Asset management is ever-evolving. It’s grown quite phenomenally over the last five years. It’s really started to take off in the last wee while. Organisations have started to understand the importance of infrastructure asset management. Especially in the current environment, when affordability plays such a key part.

What I’m looking for are analytical skills. Being able to pick up on trends. Being able to tell a story about the data. Asset management allows you to think outside the box and have a different approach. It’s vital to help the community gain awareness of what we can afford. We’re not going to be able to replace everything to a gold plate standard. But asset management helps clarify the picture, to answer the questions “what can be affordable in the future? What level of service can we meet?”.

Asset managers can do more by weaving te ao Māori into infrastructure. This can be done through long-term thinking in asset management planning. This means strategic planning throughout the whole lifecycles, and into the levels of service.”

Top tips for getting into asset management? 

  • “Gain a basic understanding of what it’s all about, and do the AM 101 badge. That would be the number one tip. If you’ve heard the terminology, and you want to know more, AM 101 provides valuable insights. It’s the foundational micro credential IPWEA NZ has on offer.”
  • “Get in contact with your asset management department in your local government. Find out what it’s all about from the people doing the work.”

“I’m able to drive down the street and see something that’s broken or shabby. Next time you see it, it’s all brand new again. I’m glad that I make a real difference in the community, and that’s why I feel passionate about asset management. We’re making positive changes.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us Trisha!