Olivia Pither

'There are so many different opportunities within arm's reach...'

  • Olivia Pither

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Studying towards a Master of Business Management

Estimator, G.J. Gardner Homes

A degree in Chemistry at UC offers all the diversity and flexibility that Olivia needs to stand her in good stead for her future career. Her choice was inspired by her interest in forensics and police investigations, and found that Chemistry involved a lot of skills and expertise from other major areas of science for a solid foundation.

‘Problem solving has always been one of my key strengths and Chemistry brings that challenge to the floor. At times you can feel so bogged down like nothing is making sense, but when you finally reach that moment of understanding, your mechanism works, or something goes right in your synthesis, that is one of the greatest satisfactions. Chemistry is cross-linked with both biology and physics, so you get a great taste for all three sciences in the one major.

‘It is really incredible to see how dedicated some of the lecturers and tutors are, not just to their own research, but to inspiring and empowering students to push themselves. I really liked the mentoring scheme that we had in the Chemistry department, where each student is assigned to an academic to give course, career and any other advice required. I feel that this is an invaluable programme as it allows us as students to engage with academics directly.’

In her final year at high school, Olivia won a UC Science Scholarship which was worth $5,000 towards her tuition fees, along with a UC Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship towards her first year. Throughout her studies, Olivia continued to earn a number of awards through UC, including a UC Senior Scholarship and a Haydon Prize in Chemistry, and also the 2014 NZIC Chemistry Prize through the NZ Institute of Chemistry.

‘I am extremely grateful for the recognition I have received by UC in the form of scholarships and prizes. It speaks volumes that the hard work was worth it and it feels really special to be noticed and individually supported by a university with such a huge number of deserving students.’

Olivia has enjoyed the atmosphere at UC, both in her academic department and on campus generally.

‘What I love about studying at Canterbury is that it has a fantastic student culture, in particular since the earthquakes, and there is a certain “band together” feel around campus. Because of the earthquakes there’s going to be a lot of exciting things happening over the next few years and I believe that the University is only going to flourish from this and become even more attractive to students throughout New Zealand.

‘I also love that there are so many different opportunities within arm’s reach. One thing that has really stood out for me is my membership with Golden Key. It is a forum of endless opportunities, and I hope that I can maximise these whilst I am at UC.’

Following on from her undergrad studies and work with G.J. Gardner Homes, Olivia was further inspired to look towards management positions and potentially start her own business.

‘From an observation point of view, I have become intrigued by all business functions, including finance and the management of people. There is a huge demand for business managers with unique and diverse backgrounds with the ability to think more laterally and open minded than traditional business managers with specific backgrounds.’

As such, Olivia started the Master of Business Management part-time alongside her work as an extending programme for students from a variety of different study backgrounds. She has found that her Science degree studies gave her a unique skillset and perspective on business organisation.

‘What I enjoy most about both the BSc and MBM is that the skills that I have learned and will learn are applicable to any job in any sector. Having now been in the work force, I have experienced this in action and have drawn endlessly on skills I learned whilst at UC. I enjoy the clear relevance of the content I am learning and am able to apply what I learn into my full-time job.

‘A Bachelor of Science and MBM are not qualifications that require a lifetime commitment to one job. Even though you specialise one subject, you are not limited to this sector when you graduate. The Bachelor of Science and MBM teach a diverse range of skills and knowledge that employers in all sectors sought.’

One great opportunity for her work and study was taking part in the Outward Bound Compass Course through her workplace.

‘This is a business course intended for those early in their career aimed at developing self-confidence and responsibility. It was one of the craziest but amazing experiences I have ever had. I learned a lot about myself, my personality and how to deal with others. This was extremely relevant to business and my study towards an MBM.’

Looking forward to more industry experience and hopefully running her own business one day, Olivia highly recommends the MBM programme to others.

‘Work hard, be open-minded, take every opportunity and be prepared for a crazy and unexpected ride.’

Chenice Whearty

Chenice Whearty

'The MBM programme was the perfect opportunity for me to become more appealing in the workforce...'

Sandra atkinson

Sandra Atkinson

'Chemistry is definitely a worthwhile field to get involved in...'