Stew Whitehead

'I feel like I have a “full package” deal with both degrees...'

  • Stew whitehead

Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce in Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Strategy and Business Development, Oritain, London

Stew believes that business was something he has always been interested in, but choosing Law to accompany his particular passions was ‘a last minute thing’ that turned out to be a great decision towards his career ambitions.

‘I have always been interested in business right from a young age. How they operate, grow and do business, how they are structured. For some people that kind of thing would bore them but I love it. So that is what motivated me to study a Commerce degree. I was also interested in Law going through school as the thought of arguing in court and doing deals appealed but I doubted my abilities to complete a Law degree. When it came to enrolling for university in a last minute freak out I enrolled in Law and set myself a challenge. Four years later I am still challenging myself and I love it.’

Likewise, Stew initially set out to major in Finance, but found that Strategy and Entrepreneurship was where he truly excelled and found interesting.

‘My new major in Strategy and Entrepreneurship suits my passion for innovation and business,’ he says. ‘The major gave me a real opportunity to understand core business activities such as marketing, HR, international business, business strategy and management.’

Stew put his double degree to practice as CEO of entré in 2014, a student organisation looking to promote entrepreneurial skills and interest in UC students.

‘My role as CEO was to oversee the operations of entré and ensure we (the entré executive) worked towards achieving our strategic goals. I worked with our executive, our board members, the university and our fantastic sponsors to ensure Canterbury student entrepreneurs were given the best possible opportunities to hopefully start up their own business venture.

‘My future goal is to either be a managing director of my own business or become CEO or Director of major New Zealand and overseas businesses. As long as I am involved in some kind of business, either from a Commerce or Law aspect I will be happy.’

As such, Stew’s double degree is a resourceful approach to his career goals.

‘I feel like I have a “full package” deal. Ultimately I would like to be in a career where I utilise both degrees. My law papers reflected a very commercial influence in all key areas of business, such as company law, commercial law, insurance and tax law. The double degree also appeals as I got a good variety of work. With Law it is very analytical and is about reading cases and applying the principles of those cases to legal issues, whereas my Commerce degree could be anything from analysing Google's HR processes to presenting marketing plans for some new products.

‘The College of Business and Law has a really good reputation. For example in Law I don’t think there is a paper you will take without having a UC lecturer’s textbook to refer to. As for the Commerce degree it too is highly regarded and there is so many opportunities to engage with the wider business community, whether it be getting involved in organisations like entré or gaining credit through the internship papers – there really is so much on offer.’

Stew found a great start to a career using skills from both degrees in the New Zealand company Oritain, which verifies the origin of food products globally to determine their safety and brand integrity. Stew is working in their newly set-up London office.

‘It’s really interesting work,’ he says, ‘working with companies to protect their brand reputation and mitigate risks that could have huge financial and non-financial costs. I am doing a bit of everything up here as it is so new, so I’m definitely drawing on a lot of the skills I learnt at Uni, using Law as well but more so the skills I gained from Strategy and Entrepreneurship. It’s great to be able to work on a variety of work so early on, and I am loving the ‘start up’ feel of the business.’

While he is thoroughly enjoying his time in the UK, Stew says UC’s location fit in well with his adventurous spirit, and he looks back on his time studying fondly.

‘I love how you can be in the lecture theatre one day and either diving, skiing, hiking, biking or fishing the next. UC is so fortunate to be so accessible to beaches, mountains and lakes and rivers throughout Canterbury all within 1-2 hour’s drive. You get a quality education whilst having an amazing time. UC is a great university to give you a world recognised qualification and also an amazing few years whilst studying here.’

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