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Source: University of Otago

Emily Watson has been nominated for HRNZ Student of the Year Award.
HRNZ Student of the Year nominee, Emily Watson, knew that she wanted to do something that empowers people to be their best in business.
“I grew up in Southland in a small, rural town where outside of high school I spent my time working for farms and farming businesses.”
“I always knew I wanted to study at Otago, it has a reputation for supporting students and a sense of community. The Business School’s focus on sustainability had me interested in studying something in the business sector.”
While visiting the University website Emily came across a course that stood out to her.
“I thought ‘this can’t be right? I’ve never heard of it!’ – it was Human Resource Management. It seemed to meet my desire to drive people in a business sense, and to help them to be their best-selves.”
Describing it as a “match made in heaven,” Emily has also loved seeing other student’s passion for making a difference in the workplace develop.

“Take up as many opportunities as you can. University is over really fast, you don’t want to look back and wish you had done more, so grab every chance and get involved.”

“I think we are getting an exciting new shift where people are choosing to study human resources. It’s traditionally been something that people naturally move into over the course of their careers and train for on the job. Now we are getting young people choosing it academically and coming through with innovative, new ideas.”
At the start of 2020, Emily applied for a student ambassador role at The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRNZ) and successfully took on the role alongside another Otago Business School student.
“The ambassador role is an opportunity to help bridge the gap between students and the human resources industry. Recruiters are often looking for people with previous experience. I used this as an opportunity to help us gain some of that experience in our learning by getting professionals in to speak to students and creating networking opportunities.”
Now, as graduation quickly approaches, Emily has been nominated for HRNZ Student of the Year Award, after her lecturers encouraged her to apply.
“I decided to apply for the award to inspire other students and share the success that I’ve found through my studies as well as through HRNZ. I want to encourage other students at Otago to go for these opportunities. If I can do it, coming from a small rural town, then anyone can do it. When it came through that I was a finalist, I was blown away.”
Emily is currently freelancing for a few different agribusinesses and planning for a bright future in an industry she cares about.
“I didn’t know if agribusiness was where my career was heading but I’m fortunate to be freelancing for a few new, emerging businesses in that area. It’s a great opportunity to put my learning to work and one day I’d like to specialise in HR agribusiness consulting.”
When asked what her advice is to other students planning to study business, Emily says make the most of the university experience.
“Take up as many opportunities as you can. I was class-rep for a few of my classes and I can say it’s worth it. University is over really fast, you don’t want to look back and wish you had done more, so grab every chance and get involved.”