Genevieve Woodall

'I became really interested in the interactions between people and the environment...'

  • Genevieve Woodall

Bachelor of Science in Geography and Statistics

Private Secretary to the Minister, Ministry of Transport | Te Manatū Waka

Genevieve has made a strong start to her career goals to enact meaningful change, through her work in public policy at the Ministry of Transport.

As someone particularly passionate about the environment and the impact of climate change, Genevieve had chosen to complete a Science degree in Statistics and Geography with UC.

‘I started off studying physical geography, but as my degree progressed I became really interested in the interactions between people and the environment, and got more involved in the human side of things,’ she says.

Throughout study, Genevieve received an Emerging Leaders Scholarship recognising her leadership potential; and both a Leigh and Judith Pownall Scholarship for Geography and UC Mathematics and Statistics Scholarship for her study results. She attributes the friendliness and lecture style of the Geography and Statistics departments for her success.

UC’s student culture and club opportunities were deciding factors for choosing university, and she made the most of these to help prepare for the workforce.

One experience involved taking part in 180 Degrees Consulting on campus, in which students complete innovative consulting projects for local organisations.

‘I was involved in looking at the benefits that Conductive Education Canterbury (an Early Intervention Programme for preschool children who are living with physical disabilities, developmental delay, and motor disorders such as Cerebral Palsy) had for children and their families,’ she says. ‘I would definitely recommend 180 Degrees Consulting to other students, it was one of the most rewarding things I did while in uni and it gave me great experience to draw on when I started working.’

Another strong learning experience was through a UC Summer Scholarship, in which she completed a research project with the Christchurch City Council.

The experience inspired Genevieve to pursue a career in the public sector, and she went on to complete postgraduate studies in Public Policy with Victoria University as a part of her graduate programme with the Ministry of Transport.

She is currently on secondment from the Ministry of Transport as one of the Private Secretaries to Hon Phil Twyford, Minister of Transport.

‘Getting the job as a private secretary has been a real development opportunity for me, and I’m enjoying the fast-paced and dynamic work environment,’ she says. ‘A Minister’s office is a very busy and exciting place to work. Each day I am involved in totally different work, and I’m constantly learning new things. You get to see first-hand how decisions are made about policy issues that have real effects for New Zealanders.

‘On a day-to-day basis I attend meetings with the Minister, commission advice from different Government departments, and review the advice to make sure it is what the Minister needs. I also spend a good chunk of my time processing business as usual Government work such as Official Information Act requests, and written and oral parliamentary questions.’

Genevieve says that having a Geography study background is particularly suited for policy work, because of its bigger picture analysis on cause and effect.

‘There are a surprising number of Geography graduates floating around in the public sector! Geography is a great subject to study if you want to learn about interactions and systems. I find this type of thinking really helpful in the policy-making setting as you are constantly thinking about how policy decisions are going to interact with people, the economy, and the physical environment.

‘I also found GEOG 309 a great course that helped to prepare me for the workforce. Through the course I learnt how to take initiative, proactively run a research process, engage with stakeholders, and present on my ideas.’

With the opportunities she’s had so far, Genevieve plans to take her career global, and gain experience supporting other policy areas.

‘Ultimately I want to be able to be able to look back on my career and see that I’ve made a meaningful difference to the lives of others,’ she says.

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