CNZM, LLB (Otago)
I am: Lawyer; Sports, Tourism and Major Events CEO
I did: Law
Former-Black Cap and sports businessman Martin Snedden's University of Otago Bachelor of Laws degree connected him with a new way to think about issues and problems.
“The beauty of a law degree and actually practising law is that it teaches you a new way of thinking that enables you to identify and grapple with issues on a daily basis.”
That insight led him into the world of sports business after a decade with the Black Caps, for whom he played 25 test and 93 one-day internationals.
Since retiring from the sport, Martin has had a successful law career, headed New Zealand Cricket and then managed the successful 2011 Rugby World Cup as CEO of Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd.
Afterwards, he took the role of CEO of the Tourism Industry Association, and today he is the CEO of Duco Promotions Ltd, a sports event and management company.
A degree and skills in problem-solving weren’t all Martin gained from his Otago University experience, however.
In his first year he met his future wife, along with a large group of friends he still sees regularly, and he also developed a very different outlook on life.
“I’d spent all of my life until I went to Otago living in Auckland, oblivious to what life was like outside of Auckland. And so to be thrust into the middle of a student community, to suddenly come to grips with life in Dunedin itself, and the vast numbers of individuals I was rubbing shoulders with day by day, it actually influenced me considerably in my outlook in life. I think it made me a lot more open minded and tolerant and certainly reinforced the need to ensure I enjoyed myself as I walked through life.”
Martin and wife Annie, who also had a fantastic time as a student in Dunedin, wanted to give the same experience to their four children, all of whom are either alumni of Otago, or still studying there.
All four children “have been gently directed by us down to Dunedin (and we’re the ones paying the bills, so they took notice)” and all of them have really loved the experience. “In lots of ways, what we’ve seen that they’ve appreciated about their time down there is exactly what we experienced, especially the friends from all over New Zealand.”
“It gave me friends everywhere, really genuine lifelong friends.” In part, Martin thinks that is because in many instances they flatted together. “So it wasn’t the sort of relationship you see in a normal university where you see people during the day and then go home at night. In Dunedin you went home and your friends went with you.”
The shared experiences extends to connections with strangers, he says. “Once you become aware that they’ve been through Otago, there’s a camaraderie, and a trust factor I think that is instantly there. I think there’s just a respect for people who’ve been through the same kind of experience you’ve had – an instant connection.”
And that’s only Otago, he says.
“It’s only in Otago that you can get the experience that I received and my wife received and my four children received. For the number of years that each of us have been at the University to be involved intimately in that student community, to make the friends we have… it’s just not possible in the bigger cities to replicate the beauty of that community connection, and to get the sorts of experiences that Otago regularly produces for those that go.”