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Students enjoy real-world experience with industry leaders

ACG Sunderland’s ‘Shadowing a Leader’ programme brings the high-octane world of business to life for Year 13 business studies students.
Brinda Lad with Auckland Transport's Executive General Manager Finance, Mark Laing

ACG Sunderland’s ‘Shadowing a Leader’ programme brings the high-octane world of business to life for Year 13 business studies students.

By spending a day walking in the shoes of high-ranking Auckland executives, students get a glimpse into some of the country’s biggest and busiest organisations. Not only that, but they get to hone their business expertise, network with industry leaders, and brush up on their job-seeking skills.

“The programme enabled me to see what life is like in a large New Zealand company. And it helped me understand the theories and strategies I’ve been learning about in class,” says Brinda Lad, who recently spent the day shadowing Auckland Transport's (AT) Executive General Manager Finance, Mark Laing.

Brinda’s ‘day at the office’ took her to Smales Farm, where Mark presented a financial overview to more than 1000 staff members, many of whom were watching remotely via Teams. From there, they headed back to the CBD for a walking tour showcasing some of AT’s most significant new developments.

“Walking around the waterfront and learning about the new ideas AT has planned for the city was such a highlight. It was a real eyeopener because I’d always thought of AT as a company that transports people around for access and ease. But I learnt that their main business objective is actually to connect people and communities. One of their overarching principles is ‘people come first’, and as an organisation, they put people and safety at the heart of everything they do.”

The opportunity to sit in on some top-level meetings was another high point, and the day was topped off with the chance to ask questions and learn more about AT’s efforts to tackle climate change.

“It was such a valuable experience. If you get the opportunity to shadow a leader, you should definitely go for it because you never know what you are going to get out of it.”

While the programme provided a one-day experience, preparation for the event began several weeks earlier. First, participants attended a lecture at AUT where they learnt how to build effective resumes. Then drafted their own CV and cover letter to help teachers match them with the most relevant businesses. 

ACG Sunderland’s Andrei Serikov aims to study law and business at university next year, so being placed at leading New Zealand law firm Bell Gully was a dream come true.

“This opportunity showed me what my future might look like,” says Andrei.

“I really enjoyed seeing the whole process of how the firm works, and I was really surprised by how many different departments Bell Gully has! The Shadowing a Leader programme enabled me to see how all the theory I’m learning at school is put into practice in the real world.”

Andrei Serikov experienced the 'Shadowing a Leader' programme at Bell Gully law firm with university student, Khit