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Student story

Rhea Cowell

20 July 2023

Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Porou

"Through the MBM I learnt that I could do things that I didn’t think I was capable of beforehand..."


Why did you decide to launch your career with UC?

Once I had initially decided on journalism and communications, UC was the natural choice. I loved the friends I made and the real-world learnings and experiences that came along with being part of such a diverse community.

I think the biggest highlight for me was seeing how the student population and wider university community rallied after the February earthquakes. Being part of this movement and being able to say that the final year of my Master’s was the “earthquake year” lends something special and unique to the whole experience.

What inspired the transition from media communication to business management studies?

As I neared the completion of my BA I was interested in exploring where I might go next and was unsure what career opportunities lay ahead of me with my BA qualification.

My thinking was that instead of being a journalist, perhaps one day I could run a media company or transfer my interests in communication elsewhere and therefore the newly developed MBM programme was perfect to equip me with some of the skills required.

How did you find going into the business world with the programme?

I liked the practical nature of the assignments and learnings we undertook. At school I never enjoyed numbers, but I think this was mainly because they weren’t “real world”, and other areas of study came to me more naturally. Through the MBM I learnt that I could do things that I didn’t think I was capable of beforehand. They were a challenge but I was able to do it when I really worked towards it. It taught me that I did have the ability to succeed in areas that I had disregarded previously as not being “for me”.

How did the programme help you realise that?

For me, the MBM didn’t equip me to be the expert in any one field but instead provided me with a broad and strong foundation to build my career upon, creating numerous pathways and opportunities to do so along the way. I think the saying “stay in your swim lane” applies well in this context because instead of gaining strength in one lane, I developed skills and knowledge across many and then it was up to me to see down what pathway I wanted to succeed in.

I also really appreciated the cohort-based and collaborative nature of the programme. We had a really tight group and we very much felt like a team that supported others, especially supporting others in areas we were strong at and leaning on peers in areas that weren’t. It’s fast-paced, but so is the real world, and by working with your peers and engaging with your lecturers you can really push yourselves to succeed in ways that you may not have thought you were capable of.

And did these experiences help in your Customer Manager role at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Te Taurapa Tūhono?

I think the fast-paced nature of the MBM meant that you had to get up to speed fast, learn something new, critically analyse this and then form a logical and reasoned response on the go. This is invaluable in my role working as a Customer Manager at NZTE working with New Zealand companies to help them grow internationally- bigger, better, faster - for the good of New Zealand.

When working with New Zealand’s export companies, I am not the expert in any of their businesses or specialties, but I am able to quickly grasp and critically analyse what’s important, provide them with constructive challenges and opportunities and work alongside my global colleagues to help these export companies to succeed.

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