Nick McDonnell

BA / LLB 2010

Public Policy (NZ & Pacific Islands) at Facebook

Nick McDonnell

Since graduating, what have you been up to career wise? 

I’ve been around a bit! I spent time at Air New Zealand in a bunch of roles and finished up as Regulatory Affairs Manager focusing on government relations and market access, mostly South East Asia and India. 

I did some more study at NYU in New York and UCL in London. A few other stops - PM’s Business Advisory Council, Virgin, Auckland Council - and work with NZ and Australian NGOs. 

I now head up Facebook’s public policy work for Aotearoa and the Pacific Islands, based out of our regional office in Sydney - though we are all still working from home!  

Working at Facebook, that sounds interesting! Can you share a bit about what your current role entails?

FB’s Policy teams work across a range of areas - regulation, economic empowerment, small business and indigenous communities, keeping kids safe online, countering violent extremism, content issues, digital literacy, legal and other areas - the list goes on. We have experts across these areas and the policy job is to bring those resources together in a NZ and Pacific context and also provide a regional context back into the company. 

For example, we’re providing support to NZ and Pacific governments - and NGOs - during COVID-19. A big focus this year has been on ensuring the integrity of the NZ election, insofar as our services are involved. 

It’s a pretty exceptional place, it has some very talented and passionate people focusing on some of the biggest challenges out there. 

How do you think your experience at UC has shaped where you are today?

Well, I was the first in my family to go to university and without UC I couldn’t have had most of the opportunities I’ve had. Not that university is the only path for opportunities - but it was perfect for me. 

I met great mates; Law School gave me a lot of those hard skills in terms of analysis, digesting lots of information; there were some great lecturers - James Rapley’s course in trial advocacy was world class in my view. I loved my BA which focused on the Middle East, politics and global political systems. It was an excellent experience being president of the Law Society and then the UCSA. I was really fortunate to learn from some amazing people through the UC Council, which has really stuck with me, as have many of those friendships. 

What do the next 10 years hold for you? 

I’m not sure I have that all planned out. I care quite a bit about New Zealand and seeing it step into its potential, rather than it being a place with potential. I can contribute to that in my current role and tech more broadly offers some massive opportunities for NZ - so I’ll continue to do that. 

If you could give one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?

None of it is linear, there will be false starts and you go backwards and forwards and up and down! Try keep the bigger picture in mind. Try do some ‘hard’ skills in amongst your interests at Uni. Ultimately the whole time goes pretty quick so have fun, make good friends and get involved in as much you can.