Student profiles

Learn about the experience of students who have gone through our innovation and entrepreneurship programmes and courses.

Alli O'Donnell

Alli O'Donnell with an elephant at a sanctuary in Thailand

Coming in to my third and final year at Victoria University of Wellington studying Marketing and Management, I knew I wanted to do something memorable to celebrate the completion of my degree. I just wasn’t sure what.

It wasn’t until I began MGMT307: Entrepreneurship in July last year that I really understood what I wanted that to be… volunteer work for a social enterprise organisation.

In December 2018, I spent three weeks in three different locations in Thailand—not on your average holiday, but volunteering with rescued Asian elephants through the well-known organisation Elephant Nature Park. Read more about Alli's experience.

Finn Carroll

Sam Copp, Mikayla Stokes, Ana Warnock and Finn Carroll from Venture Up team Lavender

Born and raised in Wellington, I was still unaware of the huge community of creators and entrepreneurs in this city until I took the MGMT 307 course. Through the course I was exposed to a number of exciting ideas and opportunities, one of which was Venture Up, a programme that provides a start-up accelerator experience for budding entrepreneurs.  I applied for the programme and soon found myself exposed to 40 other young entrepreneurs, as well as countless mentors, CEOs and founders. This was where I realised my love of ‘making stuff’ could actually be a job.

I can’t imagine what I will be doing once I finish up my Bachelor of Commerce—the horizons are so broad, with opportunities around each corner. I’ll always owe my first engagement with this brilliant Wellington ecosystem to Vic. Read more about Finn’s experience.

Emily Patterson

Emily and Ben from BandUp

As a student at Wellington School of Business and Government I became increasingly aware of the number of businesses that exist for financial gain, but I want to spend my career helping people. I enrolled in MGMT307 Entrepreneurship and joined a group that carried out extensive research and validation on men’s jewelry. This led me to the create BandUp: a jewelry company with a social impact aimed at strengthening connections and improving men’s mental health in New Zealand. I applied for and completed the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp over the summer to further validate and develop BandUp. This has led my new team to develop rings with an embedded soundwave pattern: a really effective tool to strengthen human-to-human connections.

My entrepreneurial journey has increased my problem solving, communication, networking and business skills. It’s a path I hope to continue on for many years to come.

Neil Rudman

Neil Rudman

I'm originally from Hamilton and came to Victoria University to study Psychology and Commerce. I’ve always looked for new opportunities and moving cities to study was a great one.

My eyes were opened to problem solving and critical thinking techniques when I got the chance to work as a tutor for MGMT 205: Strategic Management. Through this I became more passionate about strategy which led to another opportunity—an internship with the Strategic Projects team at Victoria. I’m also interested in starting a business at some point which inspired me to finish my degree with MGMT 307: Entrepreneurship. This is a great course for creative thinkers and people with entrepreneurial ideas. Guest lecturers from Wellington’s many accelerator programmes and creative industry start-ups built my knowledge of the steps required to start a business and the abundance of resources available for entrepreneurs in the city.

Since graduating I’ve landed a job with a new e-commerce company from Canada.

Kobe Stienaers

Kobe Stienaers

I have studied in both the Netherlands and Belgium, but the MGMT 307 Entrepreneurship class I took at Wellington School of Business and Government while on exchange is by far the most captivating and enjoyable I’ve done. The main take-away for me was the availability of resources available to help entrepreneurs in Wellington. This was illustrated by the experiences of the inspiring guest speakers, and by many of the other students in the course who were already starting ventures. Their passion has encouraged me to develop my own plans to build a business. I have changed my study plan at my university in Belgium and have started to get involved in the entrepreneurial hub here in my hometown. I don’t know for sure where all of this will lead me, but I do know that thinking like an entrepreneur will be a big part of my future.

Toia Wirihana

Toia Wirihana

As a design major I know design has two sides. Most only think of the artistic side, but the side I have a passion for is problem solving. Studying entrepreneurship taught me all great businesses start with two basic ingredients: a desire to solve problems and a creative idea so it was a great addition to my degree. I was introduced to many of Wellington’s great creative companies through our guest lecturers, who taught me the key to growing any idea is speaking out, learning from set-backs and networking. By taking their advice I became an intern at ThinkPlace which led me to work with other organisations like Catalysr. My creative idea is still developing but the networks I now have with the entrepreneurial community in Wellington have given me the confidence to know I can make it happen.