Software Engineering student Lana Cleverley enjoyed support from the Āwhina programme, and being mentored by former IBM NZ CEO Jennifer Moxon.
Born and raised in Wellington, Lana has been interested in technology since high school. Initially set on attending the University of Canterbury, Lana credits School of Engineering and Computer Science programme director Dr Craig Watterson for her decision to instead study in Wellington.
“Initially I wanted to go to Canterbury as they have a wider engineering field. But my Dad knew someone here, Craig Watterson, and I got talking to him about the different majors. I also liked the support services here and the ‘if you get here, we’ll take you all the way approach’. I really liked that,” she says.
Throughout her studies, Lana has found the support group for Māori and Pasifika students, Te Rōpū Āwhina, hugely valuable. She says Te Rōpū Āwhina’s mentors and support staff have supported her academically, while also providing holistic support to help her settle into university life.
Now in the fourth year of her Software Engineering degree, Lana signed up to the Alumni as Mentors programme to gain some insights into the industry she’ll soon be joining. She's being mentored by Jennifer Moxon, who was one of the first two female graduates hired by IBM NZ in 1984. After working internationally, Jennifer came home to be IBM NZ's CEO in 2009, and now works as a professional director.
“One thing I was looking for was some guidance on the best way to start out and Jennifer has been really good for that,” Lana says.
“It’s great to get a more experienced view of what’s going on [in the sector]. And you get to hear and learn from the mentor’s experiences. To know that it is possible, and it is something that I can do, is great.”
Jennifer has been a mentor right throughout her career and is passionate about helping people reach their full potential.
“I think the mentoring programme is a really positive aspect of the University. Giving back that way really allows you to share a broader perspective about what’s going on, and how other people have experienced the early years in their careers,” she says.
“I also learn a lot about different things too. Different generations doing different things and showing you how things can be done differently; I really embrace that.”
Lana will finish her studies this year and has already secured a position with telco software company Metaswitch.“I’m sad to be leaving the learning environment I’m in. But I’m also excited about the new opportunities, putting my knowledge into play and taking what Jennifer’s taught me and actually utilising it,” she says.
“It’s rewarding to see people grow,” says Jennifer. “I’m going to be really interested to watch her career develop.”