Suncorp New Zealand farewells our three TupuToa interns
15 February 2019
At the end of 2018, Suncorp New Zealand was proud to welcome three tertiary students into our organisation through the TupuToa internship programme.
Gladierosa Hanipale, Gabrielle Po-Ching and Paeohoro Simon
What made you sign up with TupuToa for an internship?
Gladie: I was drawn by what they could do for Māori and Pasifika students: opening up opportunities for them to work in a corporate space. Gaining work experience in a corporate office was something I wanted to do since I previously worked for a Not-For-Profit.
Paehoro: I went through the programme last year, and enjoyed the experience I gained from that internship. The vision of TupuToa also resonates strongly with me, which is building strong and resilient Maori business leaders.
Gabrielle: It’s also great to be involved in diversifying corporates in New Zealand and uplifting my fellow Māori and Pasifika peers - I know it can be daunting entering spaces where you are continuously a minority.
How did the internship compare to what you thought it would be like?
Paehoro: I am stoked with the work I have been given during my time at Suncorp. I’ve been able to transfer a lot of theory from university into practise, and some of my projects required me to communicate with the senior leadership team which was a big step out of my comfort zone. I am also grateful to have such a genuine and caring manager. He has help me grow in so many ways and been really supportive in helping me achieve personal goals while here.
Gladie: Everyone I’ve met and worked with are genuinely nice and keen to lend a hand when I’m stuck on anything. I’ve also learned a lot about Suncorp’s commitment to fulfilling its role as a corporate responsible citizen. I think that’s really cool and there’s a lot of work being done to achieve that goal that you don’t always see.
What did you do or learn at Suncorp?
Gabrielle: All three of us got to work on a big project in the corporate responsibility space, which taught me how to better collaborate and communicate, especially when you are not in the same office space as your peers.
Gladie: I agree, I think collaborating with people from different teams was very useful for my learning experience and doing various projects has been an eye opener on what I am capable of and what more I can learn from others.
Paehoro: I agree, and the group also taught me how to share workload with others! I’ve learned I tend to be a people pleaser and would rather do the majority of it myself.
What do you think that big corporates need to do to attract and retain Māori and Pasifika employees?
Paehoro: Welcoming TupuToa interns into a business is just the tip of the iceberg – I think it’s important for corporates to put effort into recognising the needs of all cultures - for example celebrating Diwali, Chinese New Year, Matariki, Samoan language week.
Gladie: I agree – for many ethnic groups there is an issue with the lack of presence. It sounds silly but seeing others wear their culture or using Te Reo or Pasifika languages in daily greetings makes me feel proud.
Paehoro: Yes, simple things like that can make employees feel valued within their organisation and gives them the opportunity to feel proud of their cultural background.
Gabrielle: Even small things like promoting the use of non-English greetings in emails or at the beginning of a meeting, or having Te Reo translations of posters around the office, make a difference. I really appreciated my own manager using more reo in conversations since I started here.
What would you say to other Māori and Pasifika students who are thinking of signing up with TupuToa?
Gladie: Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from pursuing an opportunity such as TupuToa! If I had listened to all my insecurities and fears of not being qualified, or not having enough work experience, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this internship at Suncorp. And when you’re out there, be a sponge and learn as much as you can!
Gabrielle: TupuToa is an amazing platform for young Māori and Pasifika to gain exposure in a world where they may not have necessarily have seen before, but I would tell them to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You will be put into situations where you may have to learn everything on the spot, but it will only ever make you stronger in corporate spaces. I would also say take every opportunity that comes your way to develop yourself, and always think of a question to ask, as you will never know how much you understand something until there is no one around to help you.
Paehoro: TupuToa is such a valuable experience it’s hard to put it into words. Through this programme, you are able to gain insight and exposure into corporate organisations where you may not be able to do that elsewhere. You need to expect the unexpected and be ready to step out of your comfort zone and grow. Corporate life may be unfamiliar to us, but TupuToa is working hard at breaking down those walls so why wouldn’t you jump on board and be part of this movement?