'I felt like I was in the wide-open world where there was an element of “finding your own feet”...'
Incubator Manager, UC Centre for Entrepreneurship, UC
While Michelle's goals include owning and running successful businesses that are marketed globally, she is driven by highly ethical impulses that will ensure these businesses concentrate on solving current world problems.
‘In order to maintain the society in which we live, attitudes and actions need to adapt and, in the words of Ghandi, I aim to “be the change I wish to see in the world”,’ says Michelle.
‘My Dad, who owns his own tourism business, inspired me to want to enter the business-world,’ she says. ‘I was initially enrolled in a Management major at UC, but began to understand the importance of marketing during my first year, which led me to change to a Marketing major.
‘I undertook Law as a challenge and did not expect to continue this degree, but found a real passion for Law and have thoroughly enjoyed carrying it through. I love the variety that exists within and between my degrees. The practical elements are also very enjoyable: one week I may be writing a marketing plan and the next week trying to prove that X killed Y based on a bunch of witness statements.’
Michelle found her OE in China on the MGMT 228 course the best university experience she has had.
‘I believe this is the best course offered at UC. The opportunity to travel with a group of students who were unknown to each other before the course commenced, and arrive in an enormous, unknown city was incredible.
‘We were fully immersed in university life there, living on campus, spending time with the students and roaming the city. The most beneficial part of the trip was our conversation classes where we taught Chinese students English. The students’ interest in our life and culture in New Zealand was fascinating, and they are the friendliest and kindest people I have ever come across.
‘For the first time in my degree, I felt like I was in the wide-open world where there was an element of “finding your own feet”. I witnessed students grow immensely through this process, and realized the true value of this course.’
Due to this exciting opportunity, Michelle decided to do an exchange at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain for another taste of adventure.
‘It has been an absolutely fantastic experience, and the best opportunity to live in a new city. I have been incredibly lucky to have lived in Barcelona - a vibrant city that never gets boring. The culture in Spain is wonderful, and the people are some of the most passionate I have ever met.’
Michelle also really enjoyed life at UC and chose to study here because of the campus environment.
‘Being surrounded by students who are in similar places in their lives is exciting and encouraging. Christchurch is different from other cities, it always has been, and the earthquake recovery process is taking the city to another place all together. The student life was a huge drawcard for me, and there is really no other university in New Zealand that offers what the societies at UC offer.’
Michelle was appointed CEO for 2013 of entré, a non-profit company run by UC students which was set up to encourage entrepreneurship and educate students on business development.
‘My business capabilities grew more in this year than I could have in a graduate position,’ she says. ‘I developed my skills in leadership, motivation and in advancing a purpose.’
Michelle was able to put her skills into a role with Lightning Lab Christchurch as part of the management team, giving support to startup businesses. It is her current role at the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE), however, where she has truly made the most of her past experiences.
‘We want to see students leaving UC being more creative, innovative and enterprising,’ she says. ‘At UCE we have the support network in place to help students who have their own venture or idea, as well as those who don't necessarily have an idea but want to think more creatively and know more about the business space.
‘Being in this position today is reflective of my time at UC. As CEO of entré I started to make a number of connections in the entrepreneurial space, and in my current role I continue to reach out to those people to be speakers, mentors and generally involved in what is happening at the UCE.’
All of Michelle’s experiences at UC has taught her the value of seeing the world as well as the importance of home.
‘I always thought I would look for overseas career opportunities, either in Europe or the United States. But currently I cannot think of anywhere except New Zealand to spend the rest of my life. You find opportunities wherever you are, and I now realize how New Zealand is one of life's best treasures.
‘I hope everyone leaves University having had a chance to be awakened to the wider world we live in, and with a clearer sense of purpose and being. We truly do not realize the power we have in the world.’