Hollie Waimatao Wilson

Hollie Waimatao Wilson

Ngati Haua, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Koroki Kahukura

Hollie Waimatao Wilson never imagined going to university when she was younger. But now she’s had a taste of it, she’s ambitious for her future business career.


Hollie Waimatao Wilson

As the first person in her family to pursue tertiary education, the former Thames High School student figured she’d “just end up winging it in life - it was either that or joining the army.”

By the age of 19 Hollie was working as an assistant manager at KFC in Taupo, but soon realised it would be a slow journey to reach the top of the ladder.

“I used to go and visit a friend of mine who was studying at Waikato Management School, and something just clicked in my brain, so I decided to enrol too,” she says.

“I’m quite a spontaneous person; I didn’t even know what I’d signed myself up for, I just went in blind and thought, there’s no turning back now.”

“Once I got to Waikato University and got to experience the diversity of people and ideas, I just thought wow, I think this is definitely my calling!”

Hollie Waimatao Wilson

Diving into the real business world

Being willing to throw herself in at the deep end has really paid off for Hollie, who graduated from a Bachelor of Business in 2020, majoring in Strategic Management with minors in Marketing and Psychology.

“I loved my choice of subjects; I’m always thinking about business strategies here and there in everyday life,” she says. “I do enjoy the softer skillsets as well, such as relationship development and looking after people.”

Hollie’s favourite assignment was the WMS Case Competition, which is part of the capstone third-year paper STMGT303. “It’s got a really big reputation and provides such an incredible experience; it’s genuinely exciting because your whole team is amped up.”

“It’s a highly experiential paper and quite practical in terms of using your skills to analyse a real company and develop a business growth strategy for them. The feeling of being useful with your degree feels great; it puts fire under your feet and really brings out your capabilities. Maybe I’m just low-key competitive!”

Hollie discovered her passion for marketing in the first-year paper MRKTG101, where students get to design a new product and then devise a whole marketing strategy around it.

“That really brought out the creativity in me; it was so much fun. I also enjoyed digital marketing, where you got to create your own website, which is a great skill to have.”

A unique Māori internship experience

She appreciated the high quality of academic teaching at Waikato and how her close relationships with lecturers flowed into many other opportunities for internships and graduate roles.

Hollie completed her first internship at the Bank of New Zealand. The following summer she was thrilled to secure an internship that was a partnership between Mercury Energy and Waikato-Tainui.

“I really enjoyed it because it was a mix of both corporate and iwi. I’d spend half the week with Mercury and the other half with Tainui, so I was able to increase my knowledge of both companies.”

Hollie was asked to develop a marketing plan for a big sustainability project focused on the Waikato River, which is a critical pillar in Mercury’s business model.

“They needed someone with fresh eyes to help identify what the best approach was in terms of communicating the project to all the different iwi stakeholders and interest groups. I was able to use my skills to uphold the mana of our precious awa – speaking as mana whenua, that felt really good to me,” she says.

“What I learned from the experience is that if my personal values align to those of a company, then that’s where I’ll probably end up working.”

“I definitely see iwi mahi being somewhere in my future, because from a Māori mindset, you’re learning all of this so that you can give your mātauranga back to the people.”

Growing into a future leader

Hollie believes she’s grown into a more well-rounded person through her university studies.

“I’ve always known I had the drive in me to do something big, whatever I put my mind to, but I’m definitely more confident now, and my public speaking skills have gone through the roof.”

“University has not only equipped me with strong business skills; it’s also enabled me to network with people from the business world, so I see that a big value to the degree. You’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t network, because Waikato Management School has a lot of great connections.”

During her time at uni, Hollie was an active member of Te Ranga Ngaku (TRN), a group of Māori management students with a shared kaupapa, who became like a second whanau for her.

She was elected as co-president of TRN’s governing board in her third year.

“I chased that position because I wanted to experience what it was like to work at the top and be responsible for organising things like our annual haerenga (trip), because it’s a really safe place to learn things like that.”

Rediscovering her cultural identity

Since completing her business degree, Hollie has now moved to Tauranga and enrolled in Te Tohu Paetahi; a total immersion Māori language programme.

“That’s about me wanting to rediscover my cultural identity, but I’ve realised there’s so much value in being able to bring your cultural diversity into the workplace as well, and a lot of companies are looking for that now.”

She appreciates having other Māori wahine role models to look up to in life, such as Hinerangi Raumati-Tu’ua, Chair of Tainui Group Holdings Ltd.

“It just keeps me motivated and inspired. I’m sure everyone can relate in knowing there’s someone out there like you who is striving and shows you it’s possible to achieve success in life.”

“As someone once told me, if you can find a Māori wahine who has the capabilities and the skills, and she speaks te reo, then she’s dripping in gold!”

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