Otago Polytechnic
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I saw these young guys, some of them only 19 years old, flourish. I watched them grow with confidence as the year went on. It was magic

Dermot Mayock
Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5)

After 35 years in psychiatric nursing, Dermot Mayock needed a break!  He’s trained Search and Rescue dogs for years – that, and his life-long passion for the outdoors led him straight to Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5).

Dermot loved his year of study (2013), his only complaint: it was too short “I wish I could’ve done the two years’!  But it’s really good that you come out with a practical qualification.”

Although Dermot loves getting out and about, he found the theoretical element immensely helpful.  “I learnt a lot about health and safety risk management and how to teach.  I really enjoyed that”.

At 53, Dermot was the oldest on the course, but he got on famously with his younger classmates.  “I saw these young guys, some of them only 19 years old, flourish.  I watched them grow with confidence as the year went on.  It was magic” he says.

“I kept up with them, it nearly killed me on some days” he jokes, “but I think there was a bit of mutual respect there by the end!”

Dermot says the programme sets students up well for the industry – planting them firmly on the first rung of the outdoor adventure ladder.

“The wealth of experience of lecturers is just phenomenal.  They’re so laid back, and teach the course so well” he says.

In the future, Dermot’s hoping to mix his experience of psychiatric nursing with his qualification in outdoor leadership.  “That would be the perfect type of job, and now I have the qualification to get it!”

Read more about Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5).

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If you love doing outdoor activities, learning new things, travelling, and teaching – and are always striving for a new challenge – then this is the qualification for you!

Mel Lawless
Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5)

Mel Lawless loves her job. She works as a sea kayak guide on the Johnstone Strait in BC, Canada, where she takes people out on 4-6 day kayaking trips. “We cook, entertain, and of course go sea kayaking,” she explains, “while informing and educating people about their surroundings.”

The ocean has always been part of Mel’s life. She grew up in a little beach town where she tried every new sport she could find. After a year at university, she realised she wanted a career in the outdoors. A friend mentioned Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management, so she went to an open evening and signed up the next day. “I’ve never looked back. I’m paid to do cool things. What’s not to love?”

The diploma helped Mel gain the skills she needed for starting a career in the outdoors – but it also gave her much more. “I made life-long friendships during my studies,” she says. “I loved not having to keep up with the Jones’ when it came to fashion. While everyone else was always working hard to look good – grey sweats and a tank top were always welcomed in class!”

Another highlight of the programme were all the field trips. “We did so many crazy and epic trips,” she says. “Our leadership journey was an important part of the programme but all the trips we did – climbing in Wanaka and Queenstown, white-water kayaking at Murchison, and Mt Cook mountaineering – were incredible!” 

Read more about the Diploma of Outdoor Leadership and Management.

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The quality of study offered at Otago Polytechnic is exceptional.

Jeremy Shanks
Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5)

An Outward Bound experience during his last year of high school shaped Jeremy Shanks’ career direction in ways he couldn’t have predicted. Despite not having much outdoor experience Jeremy was inspired to study the Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5). A few of Jeremy’s friends had also signed up to do the programme and he had heard glowing reviews so he took a “bit of a leap of faith” and enrolled.

Now a graduate of the programme, working for the Outdoor Education Group in Victoria, Australia, Jeremy thinks the programme is the perfect gateway into a career that allows you to travel.

“The qualification gives you the ability to travel the world. Right now I have plans to camp in Europe during 2017. It’s that flexibility that I love.”

Jeremy also met fantastic people on his programme, including incredibly experienced instructors. The support of his peers and instructors really helped Jeremy during his second year of study when he caught Glandular Fever. “With the support I managed to fight through – and I received the Excellence and Ambassador Awards for my year which was such a proud moment for me.”

Through the programme and his job, Jeremy has had the privilege of exploring beautiful remote places and this has spawned a new passion for photography and videography. “I’ve recently become interested in taking photos and videos so I can share some of these special places that I get to visit with other people.”

Jeremy’s advice to others is: “If you like a bit of fresh air, teaching people and having a rewarding career then Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management is just the ticket. Outdoor instructors from New Zealand are really sought after so there are plenty of opportunities out there.”

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I love everything about my job. I get to meet people from all over the world and learn new skills.

AJ Carrick
Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5)

23 year old AJ Carrick grew up with a very outdoors lifestyle. “My parents took my brother and I camping a lot as well as getting us into mountain biking, tramping, orienteering and sailing. We were lucky enough to experience lots of different adventures which gave me a love and appreciation of the outdoors.”

So it was no surprise when AJ decided to study the Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5). AJ chose Otago Polytechnic because the programme was very practical. “I’m more of a hands-on person and I learn by watching then doing it myself so the Otago Polytechnic setting was perfect for me.”

“I really enjoyed studying the Diploma. I loved being outside all the time, experiencing new challenges, meeting new people and also appreciated the enthusiasm of the lecturers and their love of teaching. The best thing about the qualification was it helped me get my dream job straight out of the programme and helped me gain other qualifications such as kayaking awards and first aid certification.

“I now spend my summers up in Abel Tasman working as a Sea Kayak and Walk Guide for Wilsons Abel Tasman. In the winter I get to spend time either travelling overseas, catching up with my family in Dunedin or working in other roles in the outdoor industry.

“My job is really fun. I have the best ‘office’ in the world. It really is a slice of paradise. I get to see a lot of different birds, New Zealand fur seals, stingrays and the occasional pod of dolphins or Orca.

“Since graduating I keep myself busy pursuing lots of goals and outdoor hobbies. I recently walked 100 kilometres non-stop to raise money for Oxfam and I plan to walk the Te Araroa Trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff shortly. I’m also planning on studying environmental science or biology to help learn more about the environment.”

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Making a career out of my passion has to be one of my greatest achievements.

Jim Young
Diploma in Avalanche Studies (incorporating the NZMSC Avalanche Safety Stage 2 Certificate)

Jim Young has found his true calling in the mountains, and the Diploma in Avalanche Studies from Otago Polytechnic helped him get there. After leaving high school, he began training as an automotive engineer, but soon realised this path wasn’t for him. Now he’s working as a ski patroller at The Remarkables – and soon he will be off to Japan to work as a ski guide for the northern winter.

The Diploma programme at Otago Polytechnic’s Wanaka campus, incorporates the NZMSC Avalanche Stage 2 Certificate. This is a prerequisite for most industry management roles. 

“Otago Polytechnic is the sole provider of this certificate in New Zealand, and my diploma has already opened many doors within the ski industry,” says Jim. In the last seven years, he has worked twelve winter seasons as a professional ski patroller in Queenstown, Colorado and Canada.

The highlight of his time at Otago Polytechnic was the satisfaction of gaining one of the most respected avalanche qualifications from such a well-respected institution.

“The programme is run by Peter Bilous,” explains Jim, “who is renowned in New Zealand and North America for producing some of the leading people in the avalanche industry.”

Jim’s aspirations require further study, and he’s now working towards gaining his NZMGA Assistant Ski Guide qualification, with the exam coming up in September. “This will enable me to further my scope of work available within this exhilarating industry.”

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The Diploma gave me confidence in engaging people with the outdoors – and taught me how to get the best out of others in these environments.

Glen Riley
Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5)

Glen’s typical working day at the Sinclair Wetlands involves lots of variety. He can usually be found undertaking ranger type restoration work, or instilling a love for the environment in schoolchildren, Woofers, or volunteers. “I really enjoy giving people the opportunity to experience nature and try their hand at conservation activities,” he explains. “It’s pretty addictive work and most people get a real kick out of it.”

Glen grew up on an organic market garden in Kakanui, North Otago. He’s always felt attached to the land, and is passionate about sports, recreation and the wilderness. So, when choosing a career, he was keen to work in an environment he could relate to, and felt inspired by.

Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management set him off on the right path. The programme confirmed his love of the outdoors and exposed him to some magical and inspiring places. The instructors also made a great impression. “They were absolute role models – providing a challenging and safe environment, while looking out for us and encouraging individual development.”

Glen initially found work as an outdoor leader in adventure tourism, before coming to realise that he preferred taking people out to enhance the environment, rather than just ‘for a good time’. Either way, the course proved invaluable. “Today, I feel privileged to play a role in bettering New Zealand’s fragile environment. Much of our NZ flora and fauna is found nowhere else on earth and it’s up to us to protect it.”

Read more about Otago Polytechnic’s Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management (Level 5).

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