Alumni profiles

Graduates of Victoria University are doing impressive things across the world. We caught up with four alumni who shared their advice, experience and memories.

Victoria Alumni Una Jagose, Solicitor-General

Una Jagose


LLB Otago, LLM Well

What have you been doing since graduating?

Since graduating in 1989, I have been a public-sector lawyer. That has involved a huge range of work—mostly in public and administrative law but also criminal law and human rights law. That work has been both advisory and litigation, always for the Crown.

My work in recent years has also included organisational leadership: first as manager, then deputy solicitor-general, acting director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and now, solicitor-general.

What are the highlights of your career?

Being New Zealand’s seventeenth solicitor-general is both a great privilege and a significant burden—it is undoubtedly my career highlight.

Stepping outside my experience of lawyering to act as the director of the GCSB for a year was also a significant highlight. That taught me a lot about leadership and about myself. It was an invaluable experience.

Describe your student experience at Victoria

I attended Victoria on a part-time basis while working at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, so my attendances at the Kelburn campus were intermittent, and frequently interrupted by work commitments.

I felt I knew so much more, as a mid-20-something adult, than I had at undergraduate level. I wondered whether I would be a better student after a bit of work experience. Turns out I was; my marks were considerably better!

What piece of advice would you give a student?

My advice to everyone is to look for that ‘sweet spot’ where what you love to do and what you do for your work coincide. Luckily for me, the decision I took early in life to undertake a law degree and the exposure to public law principles has really suited me and let me do jobs I love.

Also, take opportunities to leave your comfort zone—it’s called a ‘comfort’ zone for a reason! It’s cosy but you will not grow, learn or advance there.

Victoria Alumni Huabing Liu, Executive Officer at Limecho

Huabing Liu

Executive Officer at Limecho

BSc JLU, PhD Well

What have you been doing since graduating?

After receiving my PhD in Physics from Victoria in February, I returned to Beijing to work in a scientific consulting office where I provide training and other services related to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

The customers are mainly from the energy and materials sciences industries, where they use NMR and MRI as non-destructive approaches to analyse the structure of samples.

What are the highlights of your career?

Using the advanced scientific technologies from my research to commercialise the energy and materials sciences industries. My education, and scientific background, will contribute greatly to spreading the application of magnetic resonance methodologies.

Within continuous development and progresses, these novel techniques will better serve and be a part of people’s daily life in the near future.

In the future, I see myself becoming a scientific consulting leader in a solid and innovative field.

Describe your student experience at Victoria

I received a scholarship from the Chinese Scholarship Council in 2012 that allowed me to start my doctoral study under the supervision of Dr Petrik Galvosas in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences. Dr Galvosas leads a world-class, international and prominent NMR and MRI research group. I was constantly inspired and encouraged by staff and fellow students to make the most of my ability and time at Victoria.

Atawhai Tibble, Principle Adviser - Crown (Maori Relationships), New Zealand Treasury

Atawhai Tibble

Principal Adviser—Crown–Māori Relationships, New Zealand Treasury

LLB Well

What are the highlights of your career?

It’s pretty good working at the Treasury, especially since the recent thinking revolution. We now take a much broader look at the drivers of societal wellbeing, which are underpinned by the Living Standards Framework. Being part of the team developing and promoting the Framework has been amazing. Treasury chief economist Girol Karaocaglu has led this, although he’s off to head Victoria’s School of Government.

But funnily enough, working at Statistics New Zealand, of all places, has been my highlight. I led the development of the world’s first official statistical survey of indigenous wellbeing that incorporates indigenous measures: Te Kupenga 2013. I was able to measure ideas and concepts—like whānau wellbeing, whānau sense of tūrangawaewae—that I learnt about from my own iwi, Ngāti Raukawa, but that were expanded upon at my time at Victoria.

Last year, I was asked by the OECD to present my lessons from Te Kupenga at a conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. And I got my name on the same programme as one of my intellectual heroes, Nobel economics prizewinner, Joseph E. Stiglitz.

What are some of your favourite memories of Victoria?

Te Herenga Waka was my home away from home.  Te Kawa a Māui (the School of Māori Studies) was a fantastic place and still is. I was there when Pou Temara, Ruka Broughton, Wiremu Paaka and Hirini Moko Mead were there and they influenced me a lot. They taught me that Māori culture is important and we need to retain it. I have gone on to use their guidance and wisdom in my work.

What was the most useful thing you learnt at Victoria?

The importance of connections. Victoria University alumni are everywhere—across policy teams, in government, in the opposition and in business.

Victoria Alumni Felicity Lusk, Vice-President Education for GEMS Education

Felicity Lusk

Vice-President Education for GEMS Education

Mus Well, DipEd Massey, DipTchg Christchurch Teachers’ College

What have you been doing since graduating?

I taught as head of music at two Wellington secondary schools—Wellington East Girls’ College and Aotea College—before going to the United Kingdom in my early thirties. I have been head of two leading independent schools for the past 20 years—firstly at the all-girls Oxford High School and then the all-boys Abingdon School from where I ‘retired’ in August.

But I’m not exactly settling down to long lunches yet—I’ve taken up a post as vice-president education for GEMS Education Dubai UAE, a large education foundation with schools around the globe.

What are the highlights of your career?

Breaking through one of the last glass ceilings when I became the first woman to run an all-boys’ public day and boarding school, which still remains a real achievement in England.

All that, and I managed family commitments alongside my own career.

What are some of your favourite memories of Victoria?

Looking back, I recognise now that I came across New Zealand’s finest musicians of the time—Douglas Lilburn, David Farquhar, Jenny MacLeod and William Southgate.

I also remember fondly, the Virginia creeper on the old brick Hunter building in the autumn and seeing the mist hovering over the University as I walked down from Upland Road.

What was the most useful thing you learnt at Victoria?

Education is the most important gift any young person can receive. When it’s inspiring and taught by gifted individuals, who convey their love for their subject, then the mind opens and anything is possible.