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Accounting and Finance can offer you great career options

Our past students talk about their time at Otago. Find out where a qualification in Accounting and Finance has taken them.

Holly Armstrong

BCom, Accounting and Finance

Investment Banking Analyst, Craigs Investment Partners

“I couldn't recommend studying at Otago enough – it is truly the full student experience!”

Holly Armstrong 2021 image 1x

I chose to study at Otago for the quality of the University and the social lifestyle that it offers. No other uni in the country offers such high-calibre courses while also allowing for such a fun experience outside the lecture theatre.

I found Finance the most interesting of the BCom majors, and Accounting the most practical, so I decided to major in them both. I also thought that they would give me a good base for the jobs I was interested in.

My experience studying at Otago was a very positive one. The studying environment was very supportive, with plenty of academic staff available to answer questions. The Business School also offered various extra-curricular opportunities. I was lucky enough to be involved in Ignite, a student-based organisation that does consulting work with local not-for-profits, and I also participated in a month-long exchange to the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, a partner business school. The most valuable aspects of my course were my 300-level papers, with the papers becoming increasingly relevant and interesting as I progressed through my degree.

I have recently started in a graduate role in the Investment Banking team at Craigs Investment Partners in Auckland. Investment banking involves facilitating mergers and acquisitions, as well debt and equity transactions, and is a fast-paced and interesting industry to work in. I think my BCom at Otago prepared me for this role by giving me a solid base in finance, as well as getting me interested in the field. Socially, I also think that Otago sets you up well for the workforce, as there will be familiar faces no matter where in the country you decide to work.

I couldn't recommend studying at Otago enough – it is truly the full student experience!

Find our more about Craigs Investment Partners

Claire Dugan

BCom, Accounting

Deputy Executive Director, Skateistan

“All those group assignments and presentations were fantastic experience for the real workplace.”

Claire Dugan image 1xClaire Dugan is originally from Wellington, but currently works in Berlin. She is the Deputy Executive Director of Skateistan, an international Non-Government Organisation that uses skateboarding and education to empower youth in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Claire oversees all internal functions - student programs, operations, finances, HR, legal - and makes sure that the company is meeting strategic goals. I also do a lot of organization development, basically making sure we are operating as efficiently and equitably as possible.

The BCom in Accountancy from the University of Otago gave her a well-rounded introduction to business. Claire commented that the BCom had set her up to be a strong communicator, especially when surrounded by people that do not have a business or accounting background. “All those group assignments and presentations were fantastic experience for the real workplace.”

When asked what inspires her to do what she does Claire replied, “Our students and my colleagues. After watching a group of Afghan girls dropping in at our Skate School in Kabul, I was totally convinced that this was a fantastic organization to support. My colleagues are awesome - their energy and passion keep things fresh.”

When asked about her choice to study at the University of Otago Claire replied that Otago seemed like it offered the most unique university experience and she was not disappointed!

Listen to Claire Dugan being interviewed on RNZ in February 2022 – Calling Home: Claire Dugan in Berlin(19 minutes)

Jackson McDonald

BCom, Accounting and Finance

Graduate, BDO New Zealand

“The support from the Business School, the Māori centre, all the staff and my peers has been vital to my ongoing success.”

Jackson McDonald 2021 image 1xI chose to study at the University of Otago not only because of how well-renowned the University is, but because the student community and the culture of Otago really appealed to me.

Business, Accounting and Maths were subjects that I excelled at in high school so naturally I initially chose to study Accounting at Otago. It was only upon taking the core Business papers that I discovered I also really enjoyed Finance, as it is a subject that tied together all of my strengths and interests.

Studying at Otago has been a great experience. The support from the Business School, the Māori centre, all the staff and my peers has been vital to my ongoing success. Whenever I've taken a paper in which initially I haven't known anybody, I've found it extremely easy to interact with other students and the staff.

Seeing through my own research and recognising that the content we learn is applicable in the real world has been one of the most valuable aspects of my BCom. It is reassuring when studying to believe that the knowledge and skills I am picking up will stay with me in my future endeavours. At the moment, I'm hoping these will involve a career in investment banking.

Find our more about BDO New Zealand

Rosie Jerram

BCom, Finance and Economics

Corporate Finance Analyst, PwC

“Anyone considering Otago University should jump at the opportunity, and do so at full throttle.”

Rosie Jerram graduation image in front of University of Otago clocktower 1xI chose to study at Otago University because of the unique student atmosphere. I loved the 'village' feel to the campus, with everyone knowing their neighbours. The amazing range of qualifications was also a massive appeal as it kept my study options broad.

Entering University, I was extremely interested in how people and societies function. I took an Economics paper in my first year and quickly fell in love with learning about humans through this lens. Finance and economics were entirely new concepts to me, and I loved how they challenged the way I viewed the world – both subjects are an interesting combination of qualitative and quantitative thinking.

I took several papers that related social and environmental impacts to frameworks. A highlight of my University study was FINC399: Sustainable Investing. We were taught about the many different frameworks being used globally to encourage businesses to act more sustainably, such as the TCFD and EU Taxonomy. Lessons were complemented by guest lectures from subject matter experts around New Zealand, adding a lot of perspective to the materials. Most importantly, the course encouraged critical thinking when evaluating investments and encouraged us to look deeply into sustainability claims.

Some of my best memories at Otago were made in the living room of my flat. Having my best friends come home with stories of our adventures throughout the week was a truly unique experience that I'll always cherish. Uni-life has a lot of quirks, whether it's the TV stationed on top of a boogie board or a bedroom that is 2x2m, life at Otago was always colourful.

Anyone considering Otago University should jump at the opportunity, and do so at full throttle. Join all the clubs that are of interest, enter competitions, speak to people in your tutorials; some of my closest friends were made by doing just that.

I am now working as an Analyst in the Corporate Finance team at PwC. Within this team, I have a special interest in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and sustainability focused deals. My degree taught me a lot of the key concepts and terminology used at work, and also introduced me to practical tools such as Excel. Most importantly, University helped to develop the soft skills that are useful in a professional environment – group assignments are a great simulation of what a work project is like, and lectures/assignments present professional communication opportunities.

Find our more about PwC

Lachie McLean

BCom, Finance and Economics

Investment Banking Analyst, Jarden

“Finance offered me an analytical challenge with a particular focus on problem-solving.”

Lachie McLean image 2022 1xPossessing a strong interest in numbers and personal investing, Finance offered me an analytical challenge with a particular focus on problem-solving. Alongside this, Economics offered a well-rounded perspective of how the world works, with a broad range of applications. These major subjects complemented each other and provided a framework in which I could develop intuition and critical thinking.

Studying at Otago has been an exceptional experience. The Otago Business School has provided a supportive learning environment in which I have formed strong relationships with many of my lecturers and other like-minded students who are both driven and social. Student-run activities, such as Business Case Competitions and Stock Pitch Competitions have also complemented my academic studies, allowing me to develop many soft skills necessary for the workplace.

Find out more about Jarden

Helena Rikiti

BCom, Management and Finance

Graduate Intern, Forsyth Barr Limited

“Studying at Otago allows for the discovery of your best learning style.”

Helena Rikiti profile 2022 x1It was very overwhelming deciding where I would live for the next few years. Choosing the University of Otago came down to my acceptance into Arana College, friends who were also studying at Otago and being close to home. There were also many great scholarship opportunities for my interests in both sports and academia.

I have always struggled with my career direction and found it challenging to choose a speciality area, even after graduating. A Bachelor of Commerce in Management and Finance is a flexible degree and the skills learnt can be applied in many professional settings – this took the pressure off by not having to decide my future at such a young age and provides the opportunity to experience positions in many areas of the corporate world.

Sustainable finance is an emerging concern throughout the economy and in universities. One of my undergraduate papers was FINC 399: Sustainable Investing. We explored the difference between sustainable and traditional investments and how these might compare in the market. The content was quantitative, using world-recognised methodologies. We also heard from successful business people about their experiences with sustainable finance, both internally and externally to their companies. The underlying trend is that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) focused investments perform equally, if not better than traditional investments in the market. I took Sustainable Investing for the very first time the course had been held. The newly created paper was the most relevant course of study during my degree for the profession that I am in now.

The teaching at Otago is very supportive. In FINC399, I built on the comprehensive notes provided and gained a broad understanding of sustainable finance concepts. We utilised financial data in Bloomberg by selecting data, analysing it and interpreting the results – the content was from real-world situations, where we investigated potential solutions to a problem. I only realised the real value of this course when I began my role at Forsyth Barr and the concepts learnt at Otago applied to my work. ESG is becoming a real talking point and an area to act on for many businesses; it was invaluable to have a decent understanding of this framework before graduating.

A sporting highlight during my time at Otago would have to be the Otago University Rowing Club. The OUSA Aquatic Centre is an impressive facility and home to my first ever rowing experience. I achieved great performances and made life-long friends that I wouldn't have met through study exposure alone.

The best advice I would give to someone who is thinking about studying at Otago is to explore the great opportunities on offer, like the Employability Programme and the Otago Student Investment Fund. I did not take advantage of programmes like this, and since leaving University I have realised the awesome impact this would have had on my confidence and career. I would also encourage you to enjoy your time as a student – maximise the lifestyle and at the same time, increase your exposure to networking events. If you feel unsure or lost along the way, get in touch with industry professionals and seek their guidance. LinkedIn is a great platform for organising this – discussing your future over a coffee is a welcome experience and it benefits both parties.

I am a graduate intern at Forsyth Barr alongside three other new graduates and two graduates already employed here. Despite initial presumptions, I do not serve beverages at the Stadium –Forsyth Barr is a share broking firm with 24 offices throughout the country and over 450 employees. This is the first year (2022) that the Dunedin office has hosted the internship programme and provides quarterly rotations through six departments over two years. I spent the first financial quarter in Settlements, and I am currently in Client Services on the transactional side of securities. Still to go in my internship are Corporate Actions, Accounting and Finance, Client Maintenance and the Custody departments.

Studying at Otago allows for the discovery of your best learning style. Entering the workforce is a huge learning curve and I applied myself already knowing what works best for me. Despite this, I do try to stay open-minded to new ways of learning. It's very different in the private sector than what I expected – it's not like an episode of Suits but taking up a graduate position provides a nice transition to the real world from being a student.

Beyond the two-year internship I do not have any plans for the future. I have lots yet to experience, especially considering my potential career may not exist yet. I'm enjoying finding my way in a corporate environment and I trust that as I progress, career pathways will open up.

Find out more about Forsyth Barr

20Twenties Young Alumni Awards

Initiated in 2020 the University of Otago's 20Twenties young alumni awards aims to recognise 20 alumni in their twenties.

These alumni have demonstrated outstanding achievements, contributed widely to their communities, or have shown exceptional leadership in their personal or professional lives.

We are proud to introduce recipients of the 20Twenties Alumni Awards who studied in the Department of Accountancy and Finance.


Cameron Burrow BCom, Accounting

In recognition of voluntary service to rugby and surf life saving.

A Chartered Accountant (CA), Cameron is currently Chairman of two of New Zealand's oldest clubs in their respective fields, the Dunedin Rugby Football Club and the St Clair Surf Life Saving Club (St Clair SLSC). He plays a prominent role across the Otago/Southland region and has been recognised with South Island Service and Distinguished Service awards as well as a National Service awards.

Maddi Ingham BCom, Accounting and LLB

In recognition of community service and creating positive change in organisations.

Q&A with Maddie Ingham – 20Twenties Young Alumni Award Winner


Emily Fry LLB(Hons) BCom, Accounting

For her contribution to the field of digital technologies and their security implications.

Q&A with Emily Fry – 20Twenties Young Alumni Award Winner

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