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Sophie Baird

Integrated Operations Centre Controller

Sophie is part of our IOC team who are dubbed the ‘eyes and ears' of the airport. She shares with us her top five most interesting calls from the public and what gets her through night shift.


What do you do as an Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) Controller? A little bit of everything! People say we are the eyes and ears of the airport, so we do everything from emergency management, aircraft medical call-outs, enquiries from members of the public, weather monitoring, to various urgent jobs.

How did you start at IOC? I started in the airport’s Cadet Programme in the Airport Services team and was there for 18 months. Then I took a secondment at IOC, which lead to a full-time role. It definitely helped having Airport Services experience!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their career at the airport? Go for it! The airport is a great place to work with a lot of opportunities.

What do you love most about your job? Definitely the people - and that every day is different.

Your most memorable airport experience? There have been a few, but sometimes being allowed on board some of the more exciting aircraft that come in. One particular highlight was a tour of SOFIA (NASA’s flying telescope – the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) which bases itself here in winter.

Top five most interesting phone calls from members of the public? We get SO many of these, but my top five would have to be:

  • “I’m coming to Christchurch next month – will there be an earthquake?”
  • “Will there be fog in Christchurch?” – unfortunately we can’t predict the weather
  • A call from France to change a bikini wax appointment
  • A drunk guy calling to tell us his KFC order is wrong
  • So many UFO sightings – these are directed to the UFO hotline.

Most intense moment on the job? The occasions when an aircraft emergency gets called in. We have to activate all the right procedures. We have a checklist to work through during all emergency events, so working through that is a good way to keep calm and focus on what we need to do.

What is an interesting fact that most people wouldn’t know about you? I’m an open book and my team say I don’t hold anything back, so this is a hard one… I’ve done two bungy jumps – one was right before I was proposed to in Queenstown a few weeks ago.

Biggest life accomplishment, thus far? How can I not say my daughter?! Plus moving to New Zealand from the UK seven years ago, when I was 18. 

What gets you through night shifts? Chocolate.