Waikato MBA scholarships support regional business talent

Discover the winners of the Waikato MBA Emerging Leaders Award winners for 2023.

15 Sep 2023

The University of Waikato has awarded scholarships to four Master of Business Administration (MBA) students who have been identified as up-and-coming leaders in their regional communities.

Dr Nadia Trent, Director of the University of Waikato MBA programme in the Waikato Management School.

The Waikato MBA Emerging Leaders Award winners for 2023 are Jeremy Harwood from Auckland, Nikki Cornell from Te Puke, Andrew Tattle from Taupō, and Olivia Buckley from Te Kūiti.

They have each been awarded $4,000 towards their MBA tuition fees from the University’s Waikato Management School.

The award recognises their leadership contribution to business and the community, management experience, potential for future leadership impact, and the role their MBA will have on their business and the regional economy.

The judges included Pro Vice-Chancellor of Management Matt Bolger, Associate Dean Academic and Operations Michelle Jordan Tong, Professor Brad Jackson and  Dr Nadia Trent, Director of the Waikato MBA programme.

“It was tough picking the top four – it was very competitive,” says Dr Trent.

Leadership is one of the fundamental pillars of the Waikato MBA programme.

“Your leadership isn’t just at work – it’s who you are, it’s in what you do as a person, in your whānau and family, and in your community.”

This holistic approach is reflected in the supportive culture of the Waikato MBA, where students build strong connections with one another.

MBA student Jeremy HarwoodOne of the 2023 MBA Emerging Leaders Award winners is Jeremy Harwood, Director, Senior Analyst at Westpac in Auckland.


“What we are extremely proud of in the Waikato MBA programme is the cohort experience that we offer students. It’s a smaller group with a real ‘family vibe’, facilitated by face-to-face teaching.”

One of the Emerging Leaders Award winners, Jeremy Harwood, 37, commutes from his home in Auckland to attend the Waikato MBA programme every second Saturday.

“Waikato Management School has a great reputation,” says Jeremy, who is a Director, Senior Analyst at Westpac’s head office in the Auckland CBD.

He’s delighted to receive the scholarship and is enjoying the knowledge and connections he is developing through the programme, with the aim to become a "flexible and effective senior leader".

“Our cohort is full of awesome people who are really open and keen to learn. I am enjoying hearing everyone's perspectives on different topics; it is really refreshing to look at things from a different angle and understand what people in other industries care about.”

Another winner, Nikki Cornell, 42, hopes the MBA will enable her to “level up” in her career, and open up new opportunities.

Nikki CornellNikki Cornell, Senior Human Resources Advisor at DMS Progrowers in Te Puke, is another award winner.


“The Waikato MBA is internationally recognised, which means I can use it anywhere in the world,” says Nikki, a senior human resources advisor at DMS Progrowers, a kiwifruit orchard management and post-harvest operator in Te Puke.

“The lecturers are brilliant, so knowledgeable and experienced, and they are genuinely interested in our experiences and want to help us succeed.”

First launched in 1988, the Waikato MBA programme is highly practical, relevant and very competitive compared to other universities.

The 180-point master’s programme generally takes two years to complete, taught part-time through a combination of face-to-face Saturday sessions and online lectures.

The Waikato MBA programme also involves an international study tour. This year’s cohort are travelling to Singapore in October, with the costs included in their MBA programme fees.

The Waikato MBA programme attracts a wide range of students, says Dr Trent.

Olivia Buckley and Andrew Tattle are Waikato MBA studentsCurrent Waikato MBA students Olivia Buckley, left, and Andrew Tattle, were also identified as emerging leaders and received scholarships from the University.


“They can range from self-made business owners and entrepreneurs wanting to formalise their experience, to middle managers wanting to take the next step in their career, and functional specialists moving into more senior roles wanting to diversify their business knowledge.”

“It’s a wonderful pressure-cooker situation that prepares people for the next level of leadership. It’s life changing.”

Waikato Management School has held Triple Crown Accreditation from EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB since 2005, which is achieved by less than one percent of business schools worldwide.

Waikato is also ranked number one in New Zealand for Business and Economics by the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings for 2023 and placed first in New Zealand for research in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

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