Morrinsville raised Conor Gyde has won a coveted position on Fonterra’s prestigious Graduate Technical Programme, which has been in place for nearly 50 years and has seen many graduates move into senior leadership roles in the organisation.
Now in his final year of studying a conjoint Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in Biotechnology and Agribusiness, Conor credits his overseas student experience in Maastricht for making his Fonterra application stand out among thousands of other students in the selection process.
What made you choose to study at Waikato?
Being a local lad from Morrinsville, I knew that Waikato is often considered the heart of agriculture – which is the direction I wanted to take. I always knew that Waikato has fantastic opportunities for scholarships, and the beautiful campus was the icing on the cake.
What’s your favourite subject and why?
Biotechnology because it's so underrated. People don't really put much consideration into the processes that contribute to beer, medicine and everything in between. There's a certain synergy between microbiology, biochemistry and engineering that produces incredible benefits for society.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me involves attending lectures in microbiology, biochemistry or biotechnology, and a three-hour laboratory class where we apply learning in a practical sense to produce results or investigate scientific processes further. I often have at least one paper a semester in the Management School so I manage to strike a nice balance.
Highlight of your degree so far?
The biggest highlight of my degree was my Waikato Overseas Experience. I was fortunate enough to study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands for a semester. This opportunity allowed me to cross credit management and science papers, make lifelong friends from all around the world, travel around Europe, and split up my studies, so I came back to Waikato with a renewed and refreshed sense of purpose and passion for my academic journey. The student exchange was a great talking point in interviews and helped me more than anything when I was applying for jobs – it showed my future employer Fonterra that I was interested in becoming a global citizen who is both engaged and engaging. When I finish my degree I'll be joining the Fonterra Graduate Technical Programme.
What do you love about studying at Waikato?
I love studying on this campus. We often take it for granted that we can be sitting in a multi-million dollar library complex and absentmindedly stare out the window at a field full of trees, tūī and greenery with a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains.
How have you changed in your time at Waikato?
In my time at Waikato I've grown my networks with depth and breadth. By extending my circles I've been able to take certain parts from incredible individuals which has helped me to mould myself into a better person, who is more engaged and more interested in making a difference in my community and workplace.
What's your number one tip for making the most of uni life?
Simply hang in there – if you're starting to feel like the party is becoming boring, don't leave, just change the song.
How do you think you can make a difference through your studies?
I hope to make a difference in my community by representing the next generation in agriculturally oriented economic endeavours. It's no secret that society is operating in unsustainable ways – our environment is precious and unfortunately we're only just waking up to this reality. I hope that through my studies I can help steer the future in the right direction so that we don’t desecrate Papatūānuku but instead grow alongside her.