Anchal Sharma is Deputy Head Girl at Whakatāne High School, an academic prefect and studying three papers at the University of Waikato; there was no way she would turn down more leadership experience.
At the age of 17, Anchal joined the Waikato Management School (WMS) Leadership Academy when the University of Waikato launched the pilot in Term One 2022 with Year 13 high school students across Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
The programme is designed for ambitious, self-motivated students, supporting them to become stronger leaders who are better equipped to make a positive difference in their school, future careers and communities.
In mid-June, nearly 100 students from 16 secondary schools came together at the Hamilton and Tauranga campuses to take part in the first face-to-face hub days for the academy.
Anchal, now 18, says she will use the skills to help reach her dream of becoming a surgeon.
“The messages I’ve learned so far are unique and I’ll take this with me through life. I’m mindful of what it takes to become a leader, and what type of leader people want to follow,” she says.
Throughout the programme, students benefit from world-class leadership concepts and training and also complete the WMS flagship first-year paper, Introduction to Leadership Communication which means they will have one credit if they go to university.
“Even if you have the smallest interest in leadership, this programme opens up your mind to new concepts that you can use in many ways.”
The two events, led by WMS Distinguished Alumni Jamie Fitzgerald, were packed with inspiring talks, leadership coaching and networking, as well as interactive sessions which brought to life the leadership theory students learned in their tutorials.
Jamie is CEO of the consultancy business, Inspiring Performance and an avid adventurer who has walked unaided to the South Pole and holds the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.
Legacy Davies, 17, from Hillcrest High School was close to tears when her teachers approached her to be part of the programme.
“It was a big gift saying: ‘here’s what we think about you’,” Legacy says.
“This leadership experience is a huge thing for me, and to represent my school is a real bonus.”
Legacy says the academy has given her more confidence and allowed her to get a taste of university, all while pushing her out of her comfort zone.
“It’s really good mingling with other schools and experiencing something that I’ve never experienced before. Personally, I never thought I would get this opportunity to do leadership, but I’m just having a really great day.”
WMS Pro Vice-Chancellor Matt Bolger says WMS, ranked number one in New Zealand for Business and Economics, focuses on empowering people to grow thriving businesses in a thriving society, in a thriving world.
“It may be cliche but these students are going to be our leaders in the future, and we want to empower them to grow so they can make an even bigger impact in the world,” Matt says.
The two cohorts from each region will come together at the Hamilton Campus in August for the Academy Summit, and the programme will conclude with final hub days for each group in September.
To find out more about the Waikato Management School, see here.