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Our ‘Where are you now?’ series takes a look at the lives of Upskills alumni whānau. One of our values at Upskills is leaving a learning legacy and inspiring others with learner stories.

When we asked Krystal at The Griffin’s Foods Company if she would like to take part, she didn’t hesitate: “hopefully it will help others like Upskills helped me.”  Krystal started out doing The Griffin’s ‘Be Brave’ training in 2021 and has stepped through to HSE Advisor/Administrator. Awesome work Krystal, great to see you climb the Health & Safety ladder. 

Name: Krystal Maiden

Role: HSE Advisor/Administrator

Employer: The Griffin’s Foods Company


What do you enjoy about working at The Griffin’s Food Company?

Working for an iconic NZ company that everyone knows.

What’s been your career path to get to your current role?

I started as a casual worker, within three months I was made Machine Operator for Line 5 DS. I was in the role of machine operator for approximately five years and learnt multiple machines before applying for the ‘Be Brave’ Literacy Course that was being offered onsite by Upskills. After completing the ‘Be Brave’ programme it then gave me the courage to apply for our Cadetship Programme that was advertised within the company.

For me, the best part of it was getting to know our Executive team on a more personal level. It made me feel as though they were more approachable. I was able to connect with them more through shared personal experiences. From there, I was approached by our Health and Safety Manager at our Papakura site who encouraged me to apply for a Health and Safety role. At first, I thought “Yeah right, I don’t have any qualifications other than those I had gained in the food manufacturing industry”. After going through the interview process, I got the job.

Since starting my current role, I have been well accepted by my work colleagues which made me feel at ease. It made my transition from an Operator that much easier. I am still learning new things within the company constantly and my career path is to complete numerous programmes to help me gain more knowledge and qualifications in the Health and Safety Industry.

What have been the 3 most important things you’ve learned along the way?

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP! Moving into a more office-based role pushed me way out of my comfort zone. By asking for help along the way for certain things I was/can gain more knowledge and find better ways and processes.
  2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT! If you have an opinion on certain matters and can back that up with experience or information then stick to your guns and stand up and speak up.
  3. DON’T CHANGE WHO YOU ARE TO PLEASE THOSE AROUND YOU! I thought going into a more office-based role would mean that I was going to have to act a certain way or conduct myself in a certain manner which added to the unease when applying for the role. However, everyone has accepted me for who I am and it has made me feel as though I fit in perfectly. My boss has always made me feel welcome and his door is always open if need be which is part of the reason I love my role.

How did participating in Upskills training support your learning journey?

Participating in the ‘Be Brave’ programme with Upskills helped me to find different problem-solving skills as well as better ways to work alongside my colleagues. It gave me the courage to put myself out there to further my career. I had quite a rough childhood and the Upskills programme helped me to recognise that my upbringing doesn’t define who I am today. I can be so much better than I thought I could be.

What advice do you have to others looking to climb the career ladder?

My advice to others is, that even though it can be very daunting to apply for roles with no qualifications, employers are willing to take on new employees based on the experience they have, not qualifications. Don’t get discouraged, just take on the constructive criticism and try again. If you believe in yourself you can achieve it.

Tell us about one of your role models

Since starting in my role as Health and Safety Advisor/ Administrator I have had many people help me with gaining more knowledge and the processes we have within our company. However, I will say that Milena (Health and Safety Manager) has been my biggest role model. From the first day, I started, right through to her last day before leaving the company. She took me under her wing and taught me pretty much everything she knows. I will forever be grateful!

Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?

I hope to become a Health and Safety Manager one day and be able to ensure the Health, Safety and Well-being of our employees. I would hope to do this by using the training and implementing the knowledge I am continuously gaining from my current role.

What would you say to others considering training with Upskills?

To anyone thinking of joining the Be Brave Programme or wanting to further their career, I want to say DO IT! Take that first step, push yourself out of your comfort zone and show everyone the things you can achieve. Do it for yourself, do it for your kids and family. The sense of pride that comes from achieving each new milestone will give you the drive to keep pushing and achieving everything you put your mind to!

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About our work with Griffin’s


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