The University of Waikato - Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato
Waikato Management School
Executive Education

Success Stories

Jackie Aveling - Product Development Manager, Animal Nutrition, Ballance Agri-Nutrients
Ben Payne - CEO, Ecomist Systems
Mark Hosking - Managing Director, Franklin Vets
Michelle Murray - CEO, Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance
Paul Christey - Business Owner/Manager, Core Management Ltd
Ipu Hapi - Process Manager, Fonterra
Heather Johnston - Recipient, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Business Scholarship 2015
Tahl Lawrence - Recipient, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Business Scholarship 2015
Grant Anderson - Head of Accounting, XERO

Jackie Aveling

Jackie Aveling

Being able to stay in Tauranga with the support and comfort of home to complete the majority of my MBA was one of the main reasons I chose Waikato Management School. Then I only had to pop over the hill to Hamilton for my final year of study. It also meant I would create great business networks in the right location -where I worked.

The MBA programme at Waikato has an excellent reputation, and the learning I gained and the people I met exceeded my expectations of what a Triple Crown Accredited MBA would offer.

I was able to expand my thinking about business and how the business world operates in different cultures and contexts. I’ve developed a much broader management skill set, not only in terms of hard skills but also understanding people and having greater self-awareness as a manager.

As a Product Development Manager for (Animal Nutrition) at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, I have been able to directly translate my learnings into my everyday routine, and both I and the company are benefitting from my increased work capacity. I’m able to use techniques and skills I gained to create meaning in a broader range of situations, and I’m more confident in looking for new business opportunities.

After completing my MBA I became a trustee and mentor to fellow businesspeople, which has given me an even greater sense of fulfilment.

Ben Payne

As well as learning to manage a work-life balance, the Waikato PGDip has added extreme value to Ben Payne’s professional life.

“There is no question that the skills I have developed in the PGDip have enhanced my working capacity and returned value to the company,” says Ben, who is now chief executive officer at Ecomist Systems in Auckland.

“I went in seeking a qualification to round out my CV, and what I actually gained was lifetime learning, friendships and insight into how I think and operate, both good and bad.”

Before starting the two-year PGDip programme, Ben Payne was the general manager of sales and marketing at Damar Industries, a Rotorua-based dangerous goods manufacturer.

Having not studied in over 25 years, the thought of returning to university was daunting, but the part-time structure of the programme allowed Ben to ease back into his studies without overloading him and his work responsibilities.

The self-development that comes with the PGDip is invaluable, says Ben, and has given him an immense sense of self fulfilment.

“Having not finished an undergraduate degree I had something to prove to myself. The sense of pride and achievement at having finished the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies – Part One of the MBA - is tangible, especially as I was uncertain of my ability to return to study and balance work and study.”

Throughout his studies Ben was given the opportunity to take on responsibility for managing Ecomist Systems, a standalone business inside Damar group. At the start of the second year of the PGDip, he was promoted to the role of Chief Executive Officer, reporting to the board of Damar Industries Group.

“I will definitely recommend the Waikato PGDip to others. I found the quality of teaching to be excellent, and with the new facilities I believe that will be a killer combination for the future.”

Mark Hosking

“Mark p>For Mark Hosking, choosing to study for his MBA at the Waikato Management School was a ‘no-brainer’. Having spent the past 12 years working as a veterinarian in the dairy industry, finding a university with strong links to the agricultural sector was the key to helping Mark advance his career.

In its 65 years of operation, Franklin Vets, with six branches and just under 90 staff, has become the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the South Auckland/North Waikato region. When Mark took over as managing director, he wanted to make sure that he had the required skills to fulfil this challenging role and make a difference. “Franklin Vets has had substantial growth in the last few years, so when I started, my goal was and still is to develop our systems – particularly in inventory management, HR and marketing – to allow for future growth and development.”

Mark believes the MBA programme’s grounded approach to practical business has given him the skills and confidence to not only take on the challenging role, but more importantly, succeed at it. “Right from day one, we were encouraged to use our own businesses as case studies for the theory we were being taught. Waikato’s MBA programme has allowed me to identify and understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to my business.”

The highlight of Mark’s MBA was the trip to China. “It opened my eyes to an area that is going to be strongly related to New Zealand’s economic performance over the next few decades. New Zealand’s agricultural future lies with our competitive advantage in food safety and our clean, green image.” The trip also had an impact on the way Franklin Vets, and Mark in particular, will look to the future. “Greater emphasis will be placed on animal welfare, food safety and sustainability. These are the future critical success factors for our farming clients.”

Michelle Murray

<Michelle Murray

Since she began work in the health sector more than 10 years ago, Michelle Murray has notched up an impressive résumé. Michelle worked at the Maori health provider Te Manu Toroa for more than five years in human resource management, quality and project management. She then moved to the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, firstly as the Portfolio Manager for primary care in the Maori Health Planning and Funding team, before moving to the mainstream Planning and Funding team as the Portfolio Manager for primary care and immunisation, consolidating her knowledge and expertise from her previous two roles.

Michelle enjoyed her work life and the challenges it brought her and began thinking about how an MBA qualification might aid her future ambitions. "In my mind there were two reasons to gain an MBA. First, to be exposed to a wide range of managerial and leadership tools that could be utilized within my management role. And second, to position myself ahead of others when applying for higher roles like Chief Executive." With an active family and work life, it was convenient for Michelle that Waikato University offered her the flexibility of completing the first two years of the MBA programme in Tauranga where she is based.

Michelle found her time at Waikato extremely rewarding. "I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on a wide range of subjects. The great thing was that I was able to apply what I learnt during my MBA studies to my management role at the time - further embedding these skills and ideas in my thinking." Michelle found the benefits of completing the MBA programme unparalleled when it came to positioning herself ahead of others for top management roles. Having that particular skill set - the knowledge, expertise and finesse, led Michelle to her current role as CEO of Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance. Although on a new learning curve, Michelle is excited about the opportunity to put her learning into action.

Paul Christey

Paul Christey originally took the Waikato MBA to gain a better understanding of business, by being able to better recognise opportunities and capitalise on them.

He believes the MBA programme has had a huge impact on himself as a person and his business. “Firstly, the confidence I’ve gained has been worth the investment. Secondly, being able to learn in the classroom and test the theories I’ve learned directly into my business has helped refocus it into areas that create long-term wealth through sound strategic direction.”

One aspect he feels has made the most significant contribution to his business has been the ability to look outside and clearly evaluate external forces impacting on his business. “I can now defend against threats and capitalise on opportunities. I’ve been able to reduce risk and significantly grow my business as a result.”

Looking back, Paul says the MBA programme was very challenging at times. However, the sense of accomplishment from achieving his goal of completing the programme was very rewarding. “Receiving my MBA at capping with my family was one of my proudest moments.”

Paul found his experience at Waikato extremely satisfying. “I am self-employed so the results are measured in the bottom line for my business. It has exceeded my expectations, with a significant increase in profits and growth from my core business. In addition, I am developing a number of exciting new opportunities to further create wealth.”

“I would absolutely recommend the programme to others. My only regret is that I should have done the MBA earlier, rather than putting it off for 10 years!”

Ipu Hapi

Ipu Hapi

Ipu Hapi likens the Waikato MBA he is working so hard to achieve to a sacred taonga, “like the All Black jersey”. “It is a symbol of excellence, hard work, and shows that with effort and sacrifice I can become all that I want to be.” A process manager at Fonterra in Hamilton, Ipu has always put a high value on education.

“Being part of the Waikato MBA programme is a journey that has opened me up to a world of possibility,” he says. “It has equipped me with the tools and confidence to be able to work through any situation. Now I know where I want to be, and what I want to be doing.”

Married with two boys, Ipu’s entire family is invested in helping him to finish his MBA. “It’s a chance for me to set a good example to my young family around learning, and the value I place on education, as they’re both starting school now.”

The workload is tough, but grasping concepts is satisfying, he says. “In every class we talk about how these concepts are applied in the workplace, which gives more meaning to what you’re learning. It helps you to identify gaps and find improvements in what you’re currently doing. I also like to share with my staff what we’re learning about.”

His approach to managing people at work has changed as well. “In the past I’ve been worried about being a good leader. Now I look at myself as a person who is always adding new skills to my leadership toolkit. This has led me to try out new things and be willing to learn from my mistakes, so that I’m comfortable in any situation.”

Ipu is full of praise for his lecturers. “I feel I have the best people in the world to guide me through my executive education journey. The classes offer a unique environment where all involved are invested in helping you achieve your goals, and allow you to learn from other people’s experiences. The friendships you make along the way give you a diverse professional network and range of skills to draw on for advice in the future.”

Waikato Management School’s Triple Crown accreditation status sets the business school apart and provided Ipu with assurance that he was getting a high-quality education.

“There have been some outstanding graduates of this programme, and being part the Waikato MBA alumni makes you part of a unique fraternity.”

Heather Johnston

Heather Johnston

"I am truly grateful and appreciative that the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce selected me as the recipient of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Business Scholarship. The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce provides valuable support to professionals who are enhancing their careers by increasing their management knowledge and expertise

This ultimately strengthens business capability within the Bay. I have worked within the health and safety arena for the last 18 years, in a variety of industries. The environment within which health and safety operates is rapidly changing, and is now recognised as a key business tool.

This prompted my decision to undertake further learning to build upon my technical knowledge and broaden my general management skills.

In my role as Global Health and Safety Manager with Comvita New Zealand, I am increasingly involved in management and business discussions. The Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies from the University of Waikato will expand upon my existing skills and increase my general business knowledge in a way that can be practicably applied in real time.

Receiving this scholarship will assist me in pursuing my educational and career ambitions and I thank the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce for their support."

Tahl Lawrence

Tahl Lawrence

With a background in civil engineering, Hamilton man Tahl Lawrence was “itching to continue learning and add to my skills sets,” when he decided to sign up for the MBA programme at Waikato. Choosing Waikato was an important first step “If I was going to study, I wanted to make it count.”

“For me it wasn’t about moving up ranks; it was about extending myself to lift my outlook personally and professionally,” he says. “I arrived with a fairly well-rounded skillset, and the MBA has complemented this brilliantly, building on my transferable skills. I’m pretty excited about what the future holds for me.”

Tahl says a highlight of Waikato’s MBA programme has been meeting and working with some amazing people from a diverse range of backgrounds and industries, which really brings classroom discussions alive.

While it’s been a challenge to give up so much personal time with friends and family, he firmly believes the Waikato MBA has been a good investment of his time and money.

“It gives you the tools to make some great choices in your career, and some great decisions in business. The majority of lecturers are business consultants who are well-known in their field of expertise, meaning the content is credible and very relevant. It can be put straight into practice in the real world.”

During his MBA Tahl has made some exciting career changes, moving from local government into the private sector working with a Waikato-based start-up company, and following his study tour to China, has turned his attention to New Zealand – China opportunites.

Tahl was awarded the Corporate & Executive Education MBA Scholarship, worth $10,000, after achieving top marks in his class while completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies (PGDip(MgtSt)) last year – the first part of the MBA.

“I would certainly recommend the PGDip to anyone in business or looking to develop their skills across a broad range of relevant topics,” he says. “Completing the full MBA can be considered a big step, but for those with leadership aspirations, I don't think you can beat it for both real world exposure and professional credibility. “

Grant Anderson

Grant Anderson

Taupo man Grant Anderson was looking for further career advancement, and a way of formalising the value of his decades of experience as a Chartered Accountant and director, when he signed up for the Waikato MBA.

Grant’s previous roles in finance covered a wide range of business sizes and activities, from unknown start-ups to NZ public companies and multinationals. Although his experience had provided an in-depth understanding of the financial and operational aspects of business, he needed something to take him to the next level.

Grand says the MBA programme has certainly delivered in terms of intellectual challenge.

“Learning about myself, challenging my thinking and my emotions was difficult for me, but hugely worth it,” says Grant. “I have definitely grown a lot as a person as a result of doing the MBA.”

“The biggest unexpected bonus was the depth of the friendships I have made with my classmates, whom I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t taken the MBA programme. I think my life is richer from getting to know them.

Grant says his MBA helped him to secure his new position as head of accounting at Xero, based in Wellington.

“It shows a desire and motivation for self-improvement. Leading through personal power has been critical to my role at Xero, which requires me to influence and guide without direct line authority. Understanding when to work quietly behind the scenes and when to raise issues up vocally can be critical to success.”

Since completing his MBA with Distinction in 2005, Grant continues his involvement with the University of Waikato MBA programme as a highly regarded member of the teaching faculty. Grant’s experience offers the sort of practical, relevant and insightful perspective that makes Waikato’s MBA distinctive.


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