From the blackboard to the boardroom, Business School students have taken their learning into the real world during the pandemic by supporting roughly 50 Māori and Pasifika businesses.
“The impact of COVID-19 can be felt by most local businesses in some way or another, so it was important that the University along with its students help smaller companies,” says Dr Mariela Carvajal, of the Department of Accountancy and Finance.
“Thus, came the idea to offer them assistance regarding issues these businesses were facing.”
Dr Carvajal explains that students worked as Business Advisors, getting to know the Māori and Pasifika business they were assigned to, identifying their challenges and providing them with some practical recommendations.
Dr Carvajal says the initiative came out of the semester-long ACCT 211 Financial Accounting and Reporting paper and served as both a practical learning curve for the students and benefitted the companies they supported.
The project also gave the opportunity to connect and work collaboratively with businesses from the Māori and Pasifika community.
Ecotourism Manager Hoani Langsbury from the Otago Peninsula Trust says it was “a great pleasure” to work with the team of students.
“They took the time to understand the business and the implications of COVID-19 on our part of the tourism sector, the advice they provided was well directed and I would not hesitate to support a similar initiative in the future!”
Marina Tolo, Crystal Norman and Alec Hopwood were a few of the Accounting students who took part in the initiative.
Crystal Norman, Alec Hopwood and Marina Tolo were a few of the Accounting students who took part in the initiative, sharing that it was a “valuable experience” being able to help support local businesses.
“It was such a rewarding feeling helping the businesses and it made me realize that supporting clients is the best part of an accounting career," says Crystal.
"This experience expanded my knowledge as I witnessed first-hand the real situations that we accounting students will likely encounter in the future; it made me realize the importance and need for accounting in this world,” says Marina.
Working with Māori and Pasifika businesses frequently meant engaging with the companies extended whānau and so students often found themselves advising multiple businesses at various stages of the process, from established corporates to newly fledged start-ups.
Tutors served as Business Advisor Leaders, managing each about 15 to 18 groups of students in weekly reports, while Dr Carvajal guided students and tutors in each step of the business advising role process as well as had regular contact with the businesses themselves.
“It was an initiative that was challenging and required commitment, but a much needed one during these times and ultimately very rewarding,” says Dr Carvajal.
“I am grateful for all Māori and Pasifika businesses which participated and engaged with accounting students.
“I trust my students, their skills and their willingness to help and so it was great to see all their efforts come to fruition in a meaningful way”.