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Meet Willis Cookson, Launching his Career in Marina Operations

Our MAST School Transition Team have hit the ground running, connecting to schools with our unique pathway programme, Launch it, School to Work.

The programme is available to senior students nationwide and offers an opportunity for students to explore a career in the marine and composites industries.


MAST’s Team Leader, Tracey Eaton feels a sense of pride when career pathways align for students.


“Our role at MAST is about connection, facilitation and support - between the keen student, school and importantly, the employers who provide the fantastic work experience opportunity.”

Willis Cookson

Willis Cookson is a young man with a plan! He is passionate about boats, a keen fisherman and mad about all sports connected with the water.

When deciding about his future career, Willis knew he wanted to turn this passion into a real job. While at Bream Bay College, Willis signed up for the MAST Academy Launch it, School to Work programme, working at Marsden Cove Marina and the rest, as they say, is history.


While in Year 12, last year, Willis had one day a week work experience over several months. The marine industry credits he achieved through this work experience contributed towards his successful pass of NCEA Level 2. Through good communication and teamwork skills, coupled with his motivation to learn, Willis achieved his next goal and stepped into his career in Marina Operations, with an apprenticeship offer by Marsden Cove Marina.


Willis’s favourite part of the job is the working in a stunning environment at Marsden Cove. The Marina is complete with customs services, fuel dock, a range of waterfront retail facilities and public boat ramps. Not only does he drive and help to navigate vessels into the marina, but as a natural communicator, he gets to connect and interact with customers from all over the world.

Work on the marina is diverse and includes lots of walking to check moorings for over 200 berths, daily maintenance, responding to customer queries and helping at the hard stand.


Willis finds work-based learning suits him. Marina Manager and Team Leader, Gareth Cooke and his team are on always on hand to demonstrate what he needs to learn. Willis enjoys the team support and skills shared to help complete his MAST assessments as he heads towards the next big step, to complete his Level 4, Marina Facilities - Marina Operations - Apprenticeship.


Find out all about Marina Operators by watching here



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