Stuart Barrass

Stuart Barrass

Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours (Economics, Finance)

Waikato Management School

Waikato graduate Stuart Barrass is working with some of Europe’s most innovative companies as a management consultant for Ernst & Young (EY), based at their global headquarters in London.

The companies that Stuart works for are so high-profile he isn't allowed to name them, but many of his clients are listed on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index. For starters, he's worked with a major UK energy retailer on the deployment of their smart metering programme.

Stuart helps clients find ways to use or adapt to new technologies. He’s also involved in the EY Startup Challenge, an initiative that gives Europe’s latest and greatest start-ups an opportunity to test their innovations on clients.

“I actually learn something new every day. I have many different roles and responsibilities and get to work at the forefront of the European start-up scene," he says.

Originally from Palmerston North, Stuart completed Waikato's Bachelor of Management Studies with First Class Honours in Economics and Finance, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Japanese.

These days he spends most of his time in Shoreditch, an area of London commonly referred to as UK's Silicon Valley. “London is a fantastic place to live,” he says. "There’s always something happening and events here draw the world’s best leaders, academics and entrepreneurs.”

The recruitment process to land his big break at EY wasn’t easy; he had to go through several interviews and assessments in New Zealand and London. “Going into the final interview I expected to be grilled over the current global economy and the latest business trends, but that’s not what happened. It was actually just a good chat about me and the firm, and the hour flew by.”

The former Palmerston North Boys' High School student says his experiences at Waikato Management School helped him land his job at EY.

During his studies, Stuart's talent for financials contributed to his team mates winning the international SDS business case competition in 2013, having defeated 11 other university teams from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Singapore and China.

He also completed a six-month management internship at Insureminder, a technology start-up company in Hamilton; and worked as a researcher for WaikatoLink, analysing busines opportunities for clients and developing strategies to bring their ideas to market.

Stuart was involved in student clubs such as Enactus, the Waikato Investment Club, and the Waikato Debating Society. “This is where I learned a lot about public speaking, fundraising and social enterprise. In my second year I was lucky enough to go to the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,” he says.

Stuart was part of the 43-strong Waikato team chosen to represent New Zealand at the SIFE World Cup, after they won the national SIFE competition by presenting three sustainable community projects to aid at-risk high school students, restore a local lake, and create a mentoring programme for first-year uni students.

He also won several scholarships, including a Waikato Management School Exchange Scholarship to study at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan, and an Asia New Zealand Foundation study grant.

Before graduating, Stuart secured a role as finance manager for the Startup Factory NZ in Hamilton, validating business cases for new startup companies. Later he became involved in building financial models, cash flow forecasting, treasury, management accounting, financial product design, legal compliance issues, strategic planning, capital raising, and due diligence for investors.

His key piece of advice for students?

“Think far ahead about where you want to be. Learn how others made it there and make plans. It takes a lot of effort and planning to get your dream job.”

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