Preparing students to make an impact

08 Feb, 2022

“Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset is so valuable. It gives people an advantage in any competitive environment, whether that’s a law firm, accounting, engineering or a career in sports,” says Dr Smita Singh, a senior lecturer in international business, strategy and entrepreneurship.

After teaching innovation at AUT Business School for nearly a decade, Dr Singh says there is growing recognition of the value of entrepreneurial skills.

The Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation course attracts students from diverse disciplines including design,  sports and recreation, sociology, hospitality, criminology, psychology and business.

“The skills and methods we teach are an asset whether you go on to start a new business or you want to excel in your chosen career.”

Throughout their studies, students complete work placements and learn from industry guests like Abe’s Bagel founder Megan Sargent and AJ Park director Kim McLeod.

The AUT Business School also offers a Social Entrepreneurship: Inspiring Innovation and Impact course, which Dr Singh says helps students look at how they can apply business principles to help resolve social issues and better serve the underserved parts of our communities.

“The pandemic has shown us that change is inevitable and we need people who are capable of thinking creatively and innovating to respond to the challenges and problems that arise.”

As part of a Bachelor of Business in Management & Entrepreneurship and Innovation at AUT, Macallum Burrows completed a placement with social enterprise Eat My Lunch — which to date has supplied more than 1.7 million lunches for Kiwi kids through the ‘buy one, give one’ model and 1.5 million lunches through the Kia Ora, Ka Ako programme.

Macallum says the internship gave him a ‘competitive edge over students from other universities’ and, after securing a graduate role, he is now logistics manager and runs the company’s day-to-day logistical operations.

Two key learnings from AUT that Macallum says he applies regularly are the importance of measuring social impact and the need to always focus on the social mission.

“Everything we do needs to enable us to give more lunches and be more sustainable at solving our social mission.

“During the first COVID-19 lockdown, we delivered the equivalent of over 50,000 lunches. This proved to be a huge logistical challenge, but it was my proudest time at Eat My Lunch so far.”

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