Distinguished alumna Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Koata) was lined up in the pre-med line on enrolment day at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington when she shuffled left and joined the law line.
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“Law suited me down to the ground. It trained me in a very specific and great way, and shaped my mind in ways that I think didn’t lead me into law—I happen to think that direct shoot from degree to career is a bit of an urban myth,” says Rachel.
“For me, the most valuable part of studying law is the resilience you build through being at university for a number of years and applying your mind to the study of a school of thought. It does shape your thinking and your mind and your ability to hold up the end of a conversation.”
At the end of the four-year degree she went on to join New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and embrace trade as a life-long calling.
After a career as New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner in the US, she founded and built sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, then took on the role as CEO for award-winning Māori food and beverage company Kono, who have a unique intergenerational focus and committment to sustainability. She recently stepped out of that business to found her second start up―Oho―a brand and business strategy agency.
“At the end of the day if you’re not a good person, if you don’t consider that you have a responsibility to make good decisions now that set you up for generations to come—for a prosperous future—it doesn’t matter how many dollars you have flowing through your business, you are going to come up empty.
“We may be small and at the end of the earth, but we’re doing things the right way.”
She speaks to Management lecturer Ben Walker (Ngāti Raukawa) as part of our distinguished alumni podcast series.