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Student story

Stephan Hofmann

20 July 2023

"The breadth of extra-curricular activities to get involved at UC with is staggering..."


Bachelor of Commerce in Information Systems and Management, with a minor in Entrepreneurship

IT Resident, Google, Sydney, Australia

Stephan has launched his career in the technology sector with corporate giant Google, where he has the incredible opportunity to work with bleeding-edge technology and projects within the company.

Working in their Corporate Engineering team, Stephan’s role involves troubleshooting technical problems internally, as well as coding new tools and helping automate existing processes for a range of advanced technology platforms and products, including server, security, and hardware.

"Google is a very advanced company and their technology is quite impressive both internally and externally, which means I get to work with new and exciting products every day," he says. "For me, I particularly love the scale of impact that my actions can have – changing processes internally can affect many thousands of other employees, and any external projects I take part in have the potential to make a difference to billions of people’s lives."

Stephan credits his experiences from UC for where he is today. As someone who loves both business and technology, being able to take a double major and minor combination in both areas was the perfect way to realise both of his passions.

However, Stephan’s best learning often came from outside of the classroom, where he made a point of applying his knowledge and skills to real-world contexts whenever an opportunity came up.

"There’s many things I enjoyed about UC, but two big themes are the extracurricular activities on offer, and the travel/exchange opportunities. There’s much more to uni than just lectures and exams, and UC is the best university for this in my opinion," he says. "Between the clubs, challenges, field trips, volunteering opportunities, and university exchange options, it’s not hard to make uni the best time of your life."

Having first started at UC through the STAR programme during high school, Stephan was able to get a head start on his degree with multiple courses in Information Systems, Economics, and Media and Communication.

When it came to enrolling at UC, Stephan was presented with a UC Emerging Leaders’ Scholarship, which recognises students with leadership potential, and includes a programme of leadership development workshops and community projects.

"The Emerging Leaders Development Programme truly kickstarted me at uni, as I was able to meet some awesome people and develop mentoring and leadership skills, as well as find travel, volunteering, job, and university-based opportunities," he says.

Some other opportunities have included being on the Emerging Leaders Executive Team; representing UC in National and International Business Strategy Competitions and Technology Challenges; being a UC Mentor and Campus Leader; being an Exec member for the UC Information Systems Society during his final year; and active involvement with UCom, CUBA, and éntre clubs.

"The entrepreneurial opportunities at UC are amazing, and the dedicated Centre For Entrepreneurship gave me many chances to work on cool projects and take part in both international and nation-wide business strategy case consulting challenges, as well as technical challenges like the MYOB IT Challenge."

Hands down the best experiences he had through UC, however, was having the opportunity to broaden his horizons and take his studies overseas.

During his second year, Stephan spent a semester on exchange with the Vienna University of Business and Economics, with a UC Outbound Exchange Scholarship.

"My overseas exchange semester was the best time of my life, and the thing I would most recommend to any UC student. Exchanges should almost be mandatory for how life changing they are – I’ve made some amazing friends all around the world and have had the chance to visit many in places stretching every continent, as well as had them visit in New Zealand."

"Travelling through 14 countries in Europe was also a nice bonus, as well as attending one of Europe’s best business schools, which gave me great perspective on international commerce and enterprise as well as excellent industry networking opportunities."

Stephan later took part in the Peking University Cultural Exchange Programme in his third year, where a small group of UC students study at China’s top university in Beijing and complete an internship for six weeks. Stephan’s journey was funded with a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia.

"This was a truly awesome experience and being taken out of the New Zealand bubble gave me a great perspective on what life is like in other parts of the world, where the culture is very different. I also managed to get some pretty acceptable Mandarin skills out of the trip and can still manage a half decent conversation with Chinese people I meet, which is hugely valuable in today’s international business market."

These global experiences were well worth building his expertise, as Stephan gained work as an IT Operations Manager with Sidetracks Tours during study. He also secured work with both Google and Crypto Launchpad, a Wellington-based cryptocurrency investment bank, as a business developer and token economist, before graduating.

For other students wanting to head into the technology sector, he recommends learning how to code early on, especially by doing projects in Python, Javascript, and Go. But another important and often overlooked aspect are soft skills, such as public speaking, personal confidence, and professional conduct that are gained outside of study.

His most important piece of advice as such for budding entrepreneurs is to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, and build up those industry connections.

"UC gave me the ability to practically study important technologies and developments in the classroom, while also doing lots of my own projects, travelling the world, and doing various competitions and challenges. UC’s study environment leads to meeting people with similar passions and interests, but also people within the greater tech industry. This gave me a leg up while finding a job as during interviews, I could talk about a wide range of experiences and achievements.

"The breadth of extra-curricular activities to get involved at UC with is staggering and I credit this, in association with the great course material and lecturing and tutoring staff, as the reason I am where I am today."

As for his ongoing career, Stephan looks forward to the level of impact he will have within Google and the world, and hopes to take part in environmental or social projects with "a focus on innovative technology and creating a better world for everyone".

The ultimate dream for Stephan will be to eventually found his own startup company, with a myriad of entrepreneurship and coding ideas which he documents on his website.

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