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Student story

Alexander Toohey

20 July 2023

"UC has a very good business programme that I could lean on..."


Bachelor of Commerce in Business Economics and Finance


Business Finance Specialist, Vega Business


So you came into university business studies after a gap year?

When I left school, I was very unsure what I could do to better myself through tertiary education. I backpacked around the east coast of Australia. 

One night I was watching a movie about the great financial crisis of 2008 and realised that I understood nothing about the world of finance – I returned to New Zealand to study and have never looked back.

And now you’re working as a Business Finance Specialist! What does that involve?

Sourcing capital from a variety of lenders and funds for small and medium businesses. I am very fortunate in my current role as I am afforded a great deal of responsibility and must show initiative in many aspects. What interests me is that no one transaction is the same and that I deal with unique situations every day.

How has your BCom studies helped you with that?

UC has a very good business programme that I could lean on and gain the required skills to break into a competitive industry. My main focus of study at UC was Finance and Economics and I apply the foundations and core concepts learnt in these topics in my job every day. I was able to study a vast variety of subjects including accounting, micro/macroeconomics, corporate finance, and political science.

So what advice would you have for other students preparing for the business world?

One key piece of advice I have is to make sure you are passionate about the subjects you are studying. I really enjoy reading, listening, and watching material related to what I have studied, and I then consider how this applies in my day to day life and how I can implement change using the techniques and lessons I have learnt.

On a secondary note, another key piece of advice is to build your network early. It can be very difficult to attain graduate roles in the finance industry. Start by joining clubs, applying for internships, going to industry seminars, and meeting like-minded people who share your passion.

How did you go about this in your studies?

During my first few years I attended many events from a variety of clubs. But the club I associated most with was the Investment Society. I applied to become an executive on it and was awarded the role of Trading Associate, this was an amazing opportunity and I met a lot of people with similar interests who were motivated to become the best versions of themselves. It also helped building connections and with job opportunities. 

One of the other most memorable experiences I have of studying at UC was the ECON 390 internship I took part in. The University structures internships with local businesses around Christchurch and places students in these businesses to learn and add value to them. I also took part in a field trip in my Political Sciences course and met a local MP.

Sounds like you really got involved with the business community!

UC has top class facilities and lectures to educate with. I enjoy living in Christchurch and believe that studying at UC was a key aspect for my love of this city. 

Any career goals in the plans now you’re in the industry?

I have many career goals, the utmost of these is to be the best commercial property development broker in Canterbury.

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