Otago Polytechnic
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I’m not that stereotypical hippie…

Lucy Hamnett
Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice

Lucy is an Internal Auditor for KPMG. Part of her job involves assessing and managing risk within business to help companies remain sustainable.

“There’s a desperate need in the corporate sector for qualifications that are future-focused but not many educational providers offer something like this.

“I’ve only just started this programme this year but already I’m enjoying it. You meet great people doing great things…it’s quite inspirational.

“The programme provides you with fresh perspectives. Although the other people on the programme aren’t accountants like me they help provide objective views and encourage out-of-the-box thinking about issues.

“My project involves helping businesses benchmark and set goals to lessen their impact on environment and society. It’s an enormous challenge but I’ve become more driven and passionate since starting the programme and I realise that I can achieve this one step at a time.”

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It’s the most amazing learning experience I have ever had.

Lindsey Ellison
Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice

Lindsey’s passion in life is about helping kiwis reconnect food with health, and encouraging healthy eating patterns from an early age.

Lindsey had known about the Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice (Level 7) for a couple of years. “It was always in the back of my mind and when I left my job to look at opportunities within a community, I finally took the plunge.”

One year into the programme, Lindsey is studying part-time and really enjoying it.

“I’ve learnt a lot both academically and personally. On an academic level I have been taught an overall umbrella of sustainability and a broad systems approach to research that I think could be applicable to any discipline or project someone would want to do.

“On a personal level I have realised that everyone can teach me something. I now feel like I’m a sponge who absorbs knowledge everywhere. I’m listening lots.

“One of the best bits of the programme is the block courses. We get together every few months in person and provide feedback on each others’ projects, as well as play a few games and bond. There’s both an academic and a social element to the block courses and you gain a really good support system of like-minded people.

“When I first started the programme I didn’t have a project in mind however at the first block course it all became clear what I wanted to focus on. I’m now working on facilitating vegetable gardens at every school in Motueka and helping provide good food education to children. I’m looking at establishing a permanent funded role for someone to oversee this and I’m really excited to see where this leads.”

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Even engineers or project managers will benefit from this programme.

Jarek Pole
Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice

Jarek moved to New Zealand from Poland nine months ago with his wife and daughter. Upon arriving he gained a job working at a firm that designs, develops and installs remote solar Photovoltaic systems.

“Around the same time I found out about the Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice (Level 7) on the internet. It seemed like something I would really enjoy as I have always been interested in ecology since I was really little.

“What really persuaded me to sign up was the fact that the programme is so flexible. It’s distance learning so I can be anywhere I want and I have freedom around what, when and how to study as well.

“At first the programme surprised me. It’s not a conventional way of learning. You don’t have to read 50 textbooks if you don’t want to. Most of the study is project-based so you learn as you do.

“One of the best things about the programme is you gain a network of like-minded people. I found a group of really supportive people through this programme that have helped me navigate a time of major change in my life. I feel like we have created a really beneficial community.

“Overall I would say the programme is fantastic. I have found that you learn a lot in unexpected ways on this programme. I’m looking forward to doing more work on my project to develop a business plan for creating living buildings that are non-toxic and inexpensive. Coming from overseas I have found that this is one gap that New Zealand needs to address.”

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I would recommend the Graduate Diploma to anyone who is ready to undertake development that is both personal and professional.

Alexa Forbes
Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice

Alexa Forbes found studying the Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Practice (Level 7) a transformational experience which led her into an entirely new and unexpected career.

In 2010 Alexa found herself mid-career at something of a crossroads. “After working as a journalist, then running my own public relations company I felt I needed something new to do but I wasn’t sure what. I’d always been something of an environmentalist and so I indulged that part of me by in enrolling in this new programme that looked really future focused and exciting.  I didn’t realise then how much it would offer me in both personal and professional development.”

“The Graduate Diploma really suited me because you could do it almost entirely from a distance. It was an absolutely fascinating programme that was multi-disciplinary and allowed you to learn from other people on the programme as well as talented, future focused facilitators.

“As part of the programme, you need to work on a project. I didn’t come in with a project in mind; rather a project found me. I had already been involved in a community development project called ‘Shaping our Future’ and it seemed perfect sense to work on this for my implementation project.   Eventually I was employed by Shaping Our Future which ultimately led me to stand as a Queenstown Lakes District Councillor. So it’s fair to say that everything I have achieved in the last few years had its genesis in the decision to enrol in the Graduate Diploma.

“I liked that this programme was quite a personal process. Questions emerged that I had to sit with and wrestle with and at the same time I had to be totally hands on in a project and find out how things worked.”

“Since graduating, I now have the privilege of teaching on the Graduate Diploma. It’s rewarding work as I support other people to look into themselves as they work together to address whatever issues arise in their projects.  It provides a great balance to my other role serving as a Queenstown Lakes District Councillor and also the learners support me by providing insights as I work towards a Masters in Professional Practice.”