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Lincoln's Champions | Lincoln University

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Lincoln's Champions

There are many great reasons to engage with Lincoln. See what some of our champions have to say about us.

Sir Graeme Harrison

“Lincoln produces skilled, practical graduates who are vital for the future of New Zealand’s economy. The agri-food sector contributes around 70% of New Zealand’s merchandise trade and needs skilled people across the value chain, from the farm to the market place."

 Chairman ANZCO Foods and Lincoln University Council Member

Sir Graeme Harrison is Chairman of ANZCO Foods. He says his greatest career achievement is establishing the company, which has grown to be New Zealand’s fifth largest exporter.

Sir Graeme has had a long association with Lincoln. He used to lecture to our agribusiness students and is now a member of our Council, the body responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the University.

Sir Graeme became involved with Lincoln due to its land-based specialisation. 

“I have seen people with rural backgrounds from my generation move into cities and we need to try to reverse some of that trend and encourage people back into the land-based and agri-food sector," he says. "This sector is a vital component of the New Zealand economy.

“We need people with skills right through the value chain – at every step from productivity on the land using best farming practice through to being conscious of the environmental impact and working to enhance our environment while improving the country’s economic prospects.

“I’ve tried in my small way to add value to what we do to the products of the land. It is time to reignite our capabilities in the things we can do well and capture opportunities to improve earnings throughout the value chain.”

When asked to describe Lincoln in three words, Sir Graeme says: "Friendly, connected, practical.

Danyon Thomas

“Lincoln’s an incredible place to be — any past or present student or staff member can attest to that. The opportunities for students are second to none, and lecturers and tutors go above and beyond to help.”

 Current student and Lincoln University Students’ Association President

Danyon Thomas, president of the Lincoln University Students’ Association, is studying for a Bachelor of Environmental Management degree.

He says Lincoln offers a great student experience, produces employable graduates, and provides a lot of opportunities.

For him, some of those opportunities included studying at the University of California in Santa Cruz for a semester, being published in a peer-reviewed journal and chairing a debate between three MPs in the last general election — all before he became LUSA President.

He says Lincoln produces work-ready graduates, with qualifications based on real-world challenges and needs. Students gain interdisciplinary experience and have an understanding of different perspectives.

“Lincoln graduates are down-to-earth, honest folk, who know what they are talking about and how to improve the world we live in.”

Danyon’s aspirations include working in the environmental policy space, “to ensure we can maximise the use of the natural environment without harming it”.

When asked to describe three of his favourite things about Lincoln, Danyon says: "Great student experiences; land of opportunities; employable graduates."

Jason Rolfe

“Lincoln plays a crucial role in developing the minds of the next generation of primary sector leaders. A Lincoln qualification provides a grounding in the sector and opens doors to exciting careers.”

FMG Area Manager

Lincoln University alumnus Jason Rolfe completed his Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture), majoring in farm management and rural valuation, in 2009 and is now FMG Taranaki area manager.
 
In 2016, he was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship, one of the primary sector's most respected and prestigious awards. The scholarship allows students to study developments in agricultural countries during four months of international travel.
 
He also completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme at Lincoln in 2015.
 
Jason says Lincoln graduates have more than just a degree or diploma and an understanding of the theory behind it. They also have sound practical experience, gained during their courses, to complement lecture and textbook learnings.
 
“This makes Lincoln graduates more role-ready for their chosen career.
 
“As a specialist land-based university, Lincoln plays a crucial role in developing and challenging the minds of the next generation of primary sector leaders. If the sector is to remain a crucial part of the New Zealand economy and achieve its ambitious goals, both Lincoln and its graduates will play a crucial role.”
 
Now more than ever, we need talented people entering our industry from diverse backgrounds, including from outside the farm gate, Jason says.
 
When asked to describe Lincoln in three words, Jason says: "Fun, rewarding, forward-thinking."

Sarah O'Connell

“Lincoln graduates are sought-after because of their rounded approach to agriculture and their ability to excel in a wide range of industries. Any Lincoln alumnus is a well-respected person."

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Extension Manager Northern South Island

Sarah O’Connell received a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University in 2010.
 
Her Farm Management and Rural Valuation major provided the perfect grounding for success in her present role as Extension Manager in the Northern South Island region for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
 
She says Lincoln’s unique teaching environment offered a thorough appreciation of New Zealand’s primary sector operations.
 
“Lincoln is a great hands-on learning university. The standard lectures, combined with the science labs, field trips and summer farm work give you a well-rounded understanding of the agricultural industry.
 
“Lincoln is at the forefront of agricultural research, from the soil right through to the animal production. What you put in is what you get out.”
 
Sarah says Lincoln students are always in high demand, partly due to the University’s long history of turning out impressive graduates.
 
Understanding how the agricultural system works is crucial for New Zealand, she adds.
 
“To ensure the future of NZ Inc, we need to have students excelling in the agricultural industry, as our country is so reliant on agricultural exports.”
 
When asked to describe Lincoln in three words, Sarah says: "Agricultural, historical, friendly."

Yoshitaka Uchida

“I was transformed from a big city high school boy to a young agricultural scientist at Lincoln. Whenever I come back here, it feels like home."

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University and Lincoln University alumnus

Lincoln alumnus Yoshi Uchida, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Hokkaido University, now brings exchange students to the campus where he once studied.

He started his Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 2002, with an Honours in Soil Science, and finished his PhD in 2010.

“I loved being able to personally communicate with each professor, even at an undergraduate stage,” he says.

“For the first year or two, I struggled in many classes, but I remember that when I was sitting in the front row of the class, looking a bit confused, professors looked at me and said, 'are you okay?' or 'are you following?'

"Do not worry if you don't have any agricultural background and still want to study agriculture here. I am sure the professors here will help you get through, just like they did with me."

After becoming a staff member of a Japanese University, he realised that many Japanese students were eager to study in English, but they needed a lot of assistance to make their dream come true. Based on his experience, he thought Lincoln University could provide a perfect opportunity for them.

“Two years ago, I came here with the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Hokkaido University and we signed an MOU and formed a student exchange agreement. It was one of my lifetime moments, but it is just a start, and I am hoping to see more and more student exchanges and collaborations among us.”

He says his students “love every bit of the exchange”.

“They are home-staying and come to Lincoln every morning on the bus. I have been making sure they arrive on time at the bus stop, and every morning, I see happy faces. They are not stressed, and they are learning so much every day.”

Janine Roux

“Lincoln graduates leave with knowledge, experience and a foot in the door. Really, that is all you need and more from a tertiary institution."

Aoraki Regional Sports Coordinator and Community Sport Advisor, Sport Canterbury

Asked to describe Lincoln University in three words, Community Sport Advisor Janine Roux says: “Empowering, fun, and gratifying.”

She credits Lincoln with introducing her to valuable industry contacts that kick-started her career.

Now also an Aoraki Regional Sports Coordinator for Sport Canterbury, she holds a Bachelor in Sport and Recreation Management.

She says the networking opportunities she received were key to her success after graduating.

“In most industries, it is often about who you know. By attending Lincoln, I was able to meet people in the industry, which has led to where I am today.

“Lincoln also gives you a broad knowledge of your chosen field and up-to-date, industry-relevant information."

She says the University offers “a great balance of practical experience and theory, along with staff who guide students in the right direction”.

Janine also praises Lincoln’s commitment to fostering skills in areas such as communication, leadership and team work.

“After graduating, you have a proven record of hard work and determination to achieve,” she says.

“I had a fantastic experience and would definitely recommend becoming a student at Lincoln."

Natalie Stocker

“Lincoln University is a leading agricultural tertiary institution, with a number of experts in their field, who are extremely passionate about what they do and keen to create change in the agricultural industry."

New Zealand Research Coordinator, Seed Force

Natalie Stocker says the relationships she formed at Lincoln University helped her to build a solid network of contacts that now play a major role in her career.

“Small classes allowed for easy communication with peers and lecturers,” says Natalie, who completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours in 2011.

Her job as a New Zealand research coordinator for an agricultural seed company involves working closely with several of Lincoln’s research departments.

She says Lincoln students receive hands-on experience due to the field trips that are incorporated into their studies.

“As graduates enter the workforce, they have an understanding of some of the complexities that rural businesses face on a day-to-day basis.”

Describing Lincoln as welcoming, innovative, and practical, she says the University “adds value to our economy by producing graduates who think outside the box”.

“Conducting research is one thing, but getting people to adapt to it is another. This is where Lincoln is great at ensuring its research can be used by the wider agricultural community.”

Brad Parkes

“The passionate lecturers and culture at Lincoln University have a big influence on the quality of graduates. Any employer would be seeking a graduate who has exceptional qualities and a passion for the industry they want to work in.”

Landscape Architect, Design Squared Landscape Architects

Landscape architect Brad Parkes feels that Lincoln’s sense of community and culture is key to the high-quality education offered at the University.

“You are made to feel extremely welcome,” he says.

A First Class Honours graduate of the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture programme, Brad describes Lincoln alumni as “down-to-earth, clued-up, and passionate about what they do”.

Asked to describe Lincoln in three words, he says: “Community, high-quality, and passionate.”

Brad believes New Zealand needs diversity and quality specialist education to encourage Kiwis to stay at home.

“The qualification I pursued is a prime example of this," he says. 

"It’s a specialist field within New Zealand that is only offered in a few places across the country, and Lincoln University provides this.” 

Now at Design Squared Landscape Architects, Brad loves working in the landscape design industry.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to be in a job where I will never stop learning,” he says.

Andrew Taylor

“My Lincoln qualification and experiences have supported my career within New Zealand and globally, and I would highly recommend it as a tertiary institution to any prospective student.”

Chief Financial Officer, Deutsche Bank - Australia/New Zealand

It’s been nearly 30 years since Andrew Taylor graduated from Lincoln, but he still loves catching up with many of the lifelong friends he made at the University.

“I have a large group of Lincoln mates scattered all over New Zealand and around the globe in a broad range of careers. Many of us congregate each year, where we share some of our great Lincoln memories.” 

Andrew, who gained a Bachelor of Commerce (Valuation & Farm Management) in 1988, says his studies stood him in excellent stead for success.

He is enthusiastic about Lincoln’s small classes, which offer a close-knit community of lecturers and students.

“Lincoln also attracts a diverse range of students from both rural and urban backgrounds. This broadens the learning experience and helps you to build lifelong networks.

“A Lincoln graduate is more employable, as not only will they have a well-rounded technical capability, but they can also bring broader practical and interpersonal skills.

“This is evidenced by the wide range of roles and industries that many Lincoln graduates now work in.”

Erin Diao

“Employers recognise the significant value of Lincoln University's School of Landscape Architecture, which is the first and oldest landscape architecture programme in New Zealand.”

Landscape Architect, Chris Glasson Landscape Architects

Erin Diao says her studies at Lincoln University made her feel confident about entering the landscape architecture industry.
 
Her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) degree encompassed a wide range of subjects including ecology, environmental planning, landscape assessment, project management and horticulture.
 
“I think this is the biggest difference from other universities offering landscape architecture degrees,” she says.
 
“Employers are always looking for open-minded graduates with a broad understanding of the industry.”
 
She loves working at Chris Glasson Landscape Architects, which she describes as “a great New Zealand company”.
 
“I work on exciting projects, from 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium master planning to stormwater basin revegetation schemes.”
 
Before coming to Lincoln, Erin was fascinated with the technical side of landscape architecture.
 
“I learnt a lot from the university I attended in China,” she says. “But after I arrived in New Zealand, the unique environment became the motivation for me to be a landscape architect.   
 
“Being able to understand nature is a quality that every landscape architect should possess.”
 
Erin says Lincoln allowed her to sharpen up her design skills and prepare her to enter the industry.
 
“Graduating from Lincoln University was one of the most important turning points in my life.”

Employer: BDO Christchurch

“Lincoln is well recognised for providing the agricultural sector with suitably-qualified employees, due to the practical nature of Lincoln degrees and the robust base of academic skills offered.”

Rod Hansen

Rod Hansen works as a consultant at BDO Christchurch Ltd and says Lincoln University has a history of introducing his company to some of their best employees.
 
“We enjoy a mutually-beneficial relationship with Lincoln, as it offers us candidates who have a solid base from an academic perspective and are generally well-rounded people, ready to fit into a business environment.
 
“When recruiting new team members, we look for personable, suitably-informed individuals who are motivated to extend themselves and our clients as our business continues to evolve.”
 
Rod knows first-hand the value of a Lincoln education, having graduated from the University’s Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) programme, with a specialisation in rural valuation.
 
He says Lincoln has created “a unique and special environment conducive to quality, market-relevant learning in the agricultural sector”.
 
“Lincoln forms an important part of the New Zealand agricultural industry historically, and is contributing to extending knowledge within the sector.”
 
Asked to describe the University in a few words, he says: “Personable, market-relevant and practical”.
 
“Lincoln provides a conduit between research and progressive thinking and also assists in backfilling the void of suitable people entering the workforce to ensure the industry is suitably resourced into the future.”

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