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Student story

Julia Rolleston

20 July 2023

"What we learn at uni is so valuable..."


Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance

Master of Applied Finance and Economics

Analyst, KPMG Auckland

Studying the Master of Applied Finance and Economics was a great choice! What motivated you towards the MAFE programme?

I’ve always wanted to know what makes companies successful. There are so many different factors that play into the success (or failure!) of a company – government decisions, funding options, management, to name a few. I was eager to learn more about these, and have always had a slight obsession with money. Economics, calculus, and accounting were my favourite subjects at school so commerce always felt like the right option for me. 

What highlights do you have from study?

In my fifth year I took an internship paper in which I worked with a small Christchurch start-up company. My team and I built a model which forecast their next five years of business. It was very satisfying to put my knowledge to the test by working in a ‘real life’ environment and to add value to the start up. It made me realise that what we learn at uni is so valuable and that it is a privilege to help others achieve their business goals.

You studied Chinese language during undergrad too! What did you get out of the experience?

I was awarded the Prime Ministers Scholarship for Asia to take part in MGMT 228, a course in which we went to China for five weeks. This was an incredible and extremely eye-opening experience. It was amazing to be in China with a big group of uni students, learning about New Zealand companies operating in China, all while being emersed in Chinese culture. This was definitely a highlight of my time at uni and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

How has your career gone so far since graduating?

My study gave me a solid foundation of knowledge and the ability to think critically and feel confident in tackling new obstacles that have arisen in the professional world. The MAFE helped to make me work ready by exposing me to real life scenarios and really helped me use the theory I had learnt to apply these skills.

I’ve worked as a Graduate in DDX Enterprise at KPMG Christchurch preparing financial statements and tax returns for small/medium sized entities. I’ve now moved to the Deals Advisory team at KPMG Auckland as an Analyst in Mergers and Acquisitions, which is exciting and challenging. In M&A I am valuing companies, building forecasts, and assisting with completing deals/transactions.

No two clients are the same and the exposure I get from working with clients in such a variety of industries makes my work very interesting. I get to see how successful and not so successful companies operate, how they are funded, and I get to add value to their operations.

What initially brought you to enrolling with UC?

I chose UC because it is close to the ski fields, there was a great choice of halls of residence, and I knew there was an awesome clubs scene. I loved all the relationships I built while at UC.

I stayed at College House for my first and second year of uni. I loved being part of such a tight knit community, there were so many social, sporting, and cultural events that ensured everyone built strong relationships. I am very close friends with a lot of people I met there and I still flat with four of them now!

So the great outdoors was really important to you!

I love Christchurch because outdoor activities are right on my doorstep. I like to pack my weekends with skiing, mountain biking, and catching up with my friends. It is so important to keep interests outside of work and study a prominent part of your life! They are a great escape when things get tough and it is important to make sure you keep a steady balance of work and study to socialising and exercising throughout all parts of the year.

What about your club activities?

I was on the executive of the UCSA, UCom (The Commerce Society) and ScogSoc (a backcountry ski touring club). Being part of the leadership team that creates fun, helpful, and inclusive events for other students was very satisfying. I loved being able to create events that had made my experience at UC so enjoyable.

I was also a member of many other clubs including the Gentleman’s Club, Cuba, SVA, The Investment Society, UC Women in Business, and éntre. Being a member of such a variety of clubs meant I had a very full calendar and was exposed to a range of different groups of people.

The types of events I attended ranged from balls to tutorials to week-long ski trips – there really is something for everyone.

All in all, what would be your biggest take from uni life?

Your time at university is meant to be enjoyed – make sure you choose subjects that motivate and interest you. As important as your grades are, since starting work I have realised the value in strong communication skills and how crucial it is to be able to get along with your colleagues and clients. Uni is a great time to build these skills, so make sure you find time to get your head out of the books to build connections and enjoy yourself!

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