Meet the Boffa Miskell ecology team: Dr Sharon De Luca

When Sharon De Luca started university, she expected she’d end up with a degree in law or accounting. She clearly had some inkling of her future, because although she discovered a passion for marine science that changed her career path, you’re now as likely to find Sharon in a courtroom as out in the field.

“I had my first Environment Court hearing a few months after starting at Boffa Miskell,” she recalls. “It was memorable… and terrifying.

“But after a few hearings I felt more comfortable in the role and my area of expertise became more widely recognised. It’s now one of the core areas of my work.”

Sharon says preparation is the key to success in the Environment Court.

“I review my evidence and that of others within the project team; the evidence of the appellant’s witnesses and any conferencing statements focussing on the areas of disagreement and why we disagree. I consider where opposing counsel cross-examination may focus, and make sure I have all my reference material and supporting figures to hand.  And a drop or two of Rescue Remedy doesn’t go amiss before taking the stand!”

After changing tack from law or accounting, Sharon earned an under-graduate degree in zoology. This was followed by a master’s degree in environmental science, which quickly morphed into a doctoral degree in marine science, focussing on the effects of various contaminants on shellfish.

“Ten years after starting at Auckland University, I finally left! I headed to Hong Kong to take up a position as a research fellow.  Upon returning to New Zealand five years later, I was hired by Boffa Miskell as an ecologist and I haven’t looked back.”

Assisting an oil and gas extraction company with a variation to their current activities, working on NZTA projects, providing technical input to a range of stormwater discharge consents, assisting as an expert witness on a marine dredging proposal, and preparing for a hearing in Auckland where she’s sitting as an independent commissioner keeps Sharon busy during working hours.

Ecologist Kieran Miller has worked with Sharon on many projects. He says, “Sharon’s greatest strength is her pragmatism. She can come up with practical solutions for clients while also providing for positive environmental outcomes. As a team member, Sharon’s empathy sets her apart and enables her to develop excellent working relationships and to connect with not only clients but also colleagues.”

“My father inspired me to be the best I can be,” says Sharon. “Following his example, I strive to be hard-working, empathetic, ethical and a team player. I’m also keen to give back to my community and those less fortunate than myself.”

Sharon makes time to be involved in her daughters’ school and sport by sitting on school boards and managing numerous representative hockey teams. Her colleagues in Tauranga and the wider Boffa Miskell staff benefit from her extraordinary energy and organisation skills, too. For the past ten years, Sharon has managed and been a runner in Boffa Miskell’s Taupo Great Lake Relay team.

“Between runners and supporters, we can have a group of up to 50 people,” Kieran says. “Sharon has coordinated the accommodation, food, transport; the timing of different run legs, dealing with late withdrawals — not to mention motivating people to sign up to participate!”

30 October 2018