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Student story

Zhibin (Denny) Du

20 July 2023

"UC gave me such valuable experiences and opportunities..."


Bachelor of Forestry Science with Honours

Forest Analyst, PF Olsen Ltd, Rotorua

With a goal for a career in the forestry industry, Denny decided on travelling to New Zealand from China as recommended to him by family, and for the opportunity to experience study in the unique New Zealand environment.

Denny was keen to study at UC for its Forestry Science degree, particularly because of the field trips and internship opportunities it provides.

“If you want to study Forestry, UC definitely is your first choice. UC has a strong reputation both in New Zealand and around the world. It also provides field trips to sites around New Zealand and many opportunities for going into forest and mills related to forest operations.”

Denny describes his first months at UC being a challenge due to his language barrier, but after making it a goal to talk to his classmates and lecturers often, he built up confidence and even became a Class Representative in his second year.

“I found teachers and staff are enthusiastic with their works and people. With the help of them, I did better and better,” he says. “While at UC, I found and believe that everyone has incredible potential to do great things as long as there are opportunities for them, to make contributions and try different things. We had employer evenings to meet with major players in the forestry sector and get some ideas from these companies on what type of employee they are looking for.”

Denny felt prepared for work after uni, due to the degree covering a large variety in subjects and being “not only about trees”.

“I also had the opportunity to study other subjects such as biology, statistics, landscape, climate change and even urban design. It helped me to touch more interesting topics and know more about our environment.”

He had the chance to apply his skills in field trips around the South Island, including Hanmer Springs, the West Coast, and smaller trips to orchards, plantations and harvesting operations around Christchurch. “I am excited to have had these field trips in my study period at university,” he says.

Denny also had the opportunity to complete a summer internship assisting with inventory, valuation and translation in China with Chandler Fraser Keating Ltd, a forestry consulting company, and stocktake with a sawmill located in Northern China.

“These experiences gave me lots of knowledge on how the industry works, and I learned some useful practical technologies related to what I study.”

His biggest highlight however was a one-semester exchange to the University of British Columbia in Canada, with the help of the UC International Mobility Outbound Exchange Award.

“It was an incredible and unforgettable experience. I got the chance to explore other cities and to see different people with different lifestyle and cultures. I met and made many friends from different places of the world. Many of them are outstanding in their own fields and have strong motivation about life.

“Based on my previous experience at UC, I adopted the new environment quickly and absolutely enjoyed my exchange life. I became more and more international, which is really what I want to be. This experience greatly broadened my personal horizons.”

Following these opportunities, Denny received a University Prize for Forestry, and was invited to the Golden Key International Honour Society for his academic achievements.

During his final year, Denny completed a dissertation on financial returns in forestry investment in New Zealand, which allowed him to complete his degree with Honours.

“I was asked by the School to attend the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) Conference and engineering research showcase at Uni with my dissertation. I think this was great experience as part my study life at Uni.”

Shortly after graduating, Denny landed a role within the consulting team for PF Olsen Ltd, based in Rotorua.

“My job tasks include forest insurance, forest valuation, modelling and other technical supports. I enjoy the work and my current role in the company. As a member of NZIF, the company covers my membership fee and costs associated with any conferences, workshops and local events in forest industry. The company strongly supports our CPD and I think this is very valuable to me.”

Denny hopes to eventually head into a career in forest management, and plans to make the most of his international expertise.

“University life at UC is full of such incredible opportunities. I may not remember everything I learned in class after study but I won’t forget such experiences in my lifetime. UC gave me such valuable experiences and opportunities to improve myself, from an academic and practical skills aspect to my individual life.”

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