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A bit of an adventure

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Cherie ringing the bell on completion of her thesis in December 2020 image
Cherie ringing the bell on completion of her thesis in December 2020.

Cherie McConville says finishing her DBA reinforced for her that if you set your mind to it you can achieve anything.

Balancing study and raising two children, along with working in senior leadership roles has been a huge challenge, but something that the current University of Otago Head of Client Services says has been rewarding and an adventure.

Cherie’s research examined various business models for starting an adventure business in Dunedin. As part of her research, she travelled across New Zealand and to Austria and the United States to study adventure businesses. In the USA she went to Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, and in Austria she went to Area 47, which is one of the largest adventure parks in Europe.

From her research she discovered that with the right business model anything is possible in Dunedin. “But it’s about understanding the market need and designing a business that meets that need.”

Cherie was one of five members of the first DBA cohort at the University and will be the third from that group to graduate. She expects the other two will graduate soon.

“So a 100 per cent success rate, which is credit to the DBA programme Director Dr Sarah Carr, the support given by Aggie O’Leary Client Services Administrator, and the team of lecturers and supervisors.”

Launched in 2017, the New Zealand-based DBA is designed for business professionals who are looking for a challenge. The students’ research is focused on resolving problems for businesses and industries through the application of research and theory in a practical business environment.

She says the DBA is about studying an applied business problem. “So, if anyone has a business problem they wish to fix, it’s a great programme.”

Cherie says having a business qualification such as an MBA or a DBA strengthens your career prospects, but it is more about what you learn on the journey, on the topic and about yourself that are the real benefits.

“You become a better writer, a better thinker, there are many skills that you learn along the way that make you a better person. It gives you confidence to go on and do anything.”

The highlights for her included connection with the other students, the lecturers, and learning more about developing viable business models, whilst experiencing adventure. “Getting to do and see the amazing things that I got to do as part of the research.”

Cherie would like Dunedin to have an outdoor adventure hub for people of all abilities. The hub could include bushland and features such as a high wire and tree canopy walk, and mudslide. It would preferably be situated near the CBD.

Cherie completed an MBA at Otago in 2008, and continues to mentor on the MBA programme. She will graduate this Saturday and will enjoy celebrating her success with the rest of her family.

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