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Waikato student wins Emerging Leaders Award

27 July 2018

Waikato students Shalini Guleria, Kaylee Bird and Claire Voogt at the New Zealand Emerging Leaders Awards. Photography by Andrew Lau.

University of Waikato law and management student Kaylee Bird took out the top law prize at New Zealand’s Emerging Leaders Awards this month. Competing against the country’s top emerging leaders in the profession, she says it was a “real honour” to have her leadership skills recognised.

Kaylee attended the awards ceremony in Auckland alongside Waikato students Shalini Guleria and Claire Voogt, who were finalists for the Science category.

The intense selection process included psychometric testing, video interviews and a stakeholder presentation, before the finalists could relax at the awards evening.

As the winner of the law category, Kaylee will receive a C-suite lunch with a leader from Chapman Tripp, a mentor for three months, enrolment in the Leadership Mastery online course, and a CV workshop with Talent Solutions.

“I’m really grateful to NxtStep, Talent Solutions and Chapman Tripp for making the award possible and seeing potential in my leadership abilities,” Kaylee says.

Since starting at the University of Waikato in 2015, Kaylee’s been involved in all aspects of university life. She’s a law student ambassador, a tutor in equity law, a Hillary scholar for dance, and a law clerk at McCaw Lewis. She is also a Step Higher Award recipient and will head to Nepal early next year to do volunteer work in communities there.

“I was told that my community focus gave me an edge for the Emerging Leader Awards,” she says. “This links to the values that have been instilled in me through the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme. I’m dedicated to doing what I can to promote communities of people helping people, rather than individuals.”

But university life hasn’t always been easy for Kaylee. Her biggest challenge came at the end of her third year, when she got sick and had to withdraw from some papers.

“At the time I felt awful, but I realised that my health was more important than anything else, and I received a lot of support from the university – I was able to access things like medical withdrawals, compassionate consideration, and help with sorting a plan for my degree going forward.”

Kaylee’s hoping to use her leadership skills to inspire other young students to become leaders.

“In 10 years, I’d like to have a programme established in primary, intermediate and high schools to nurture the qualities of emerging leaders. I want to get kids interested and inspired to create change.”


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