Scholarship helps with continuous career learning

Massey University Master of Business Administration student Michael Weston has been awarded an inaugural New Zealand Institute of Management Foundation scholarship, worth $15,000. The swim school manager at Northern Arena, in Silverdale, says the scholarship will help with the cost of his MBA study tour to South America and further study materials.

“My goal is to move forward into a PhD,” Michael Weston says, “so I plan to keep some of the money back so I can audit further MBA papers, which are made available to alumni in the future.

“Continuing to learn is really important to me. Wherever I work I try to facilitate a learning environment because I think that’s crucial to the organisation, and New Zealand, moving forward.”

Gaining a PhD is only one of the goals he has set for himself. As a former competitive swimmer who has also been a swim teacher for 15 years, he has his eye on the top job at Swimming New Zealand. His long-term ambition is to be chief executive officer of High Performance Sport New Zealand. 

An MBA is just the first step

Undertaking his MBA is a key step on this journey and Weston says he appreciates the “pracademic” nature of the programme. 

“For a traditional postgraduate degree you study a lot by yourself and it’s very academic. Through the MBA programme I’ve met 50 great people from all around the country. We have a lot of fun learning together. The collaboration, co-learning and reverse mentoring is so important. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses and being able to leverage off each person’s strengths is really good.”

Weston has a sports science degree, also from Massey University, and says he enrolled in the MBA programme because he realised there were skills he needed to develop.

“The sports science degree is obviously useful for my job, but the job is also about business. I figured out pretty quickly, once I was in a management role, that I had some gaps in my knowledge. The first year of the MBA has given me a broad knowledge base and has strengthened my focus on developing our brand, creating value for the organisation and developing our people.” 

Don’t fear failure

Northern Arena has certainly won its fair share of awards, receiving Westpac Business Awards for marketing, innovation and sustainability. Weston says the company has always focused on being innovative with the management team creating an environment where failure is not feared. 

“We are seven years old now and we are still trying new things all the time. That’s because we are allowed to take a sandbox approach to ideas – there have been failures along the way, but that is okay.”

Weston will soon begin work on his master’s research report, an analysis of high performance organisations globally with the aim of developing a best practice framework for New Zealand. If all goes well, he will expand on the topic for his PhD.

In the meantime, he will complete his MBA this year, maintain full-time hours at Northern Arena and remain on the board of the New Zealand Swim Coaches and Teachers Association, all while raising a two-year-old toddler.

“Yes, I’m balancing a lot in life,” he says, “but I think that’s what the scholarship selection panel liked about my application. I would like to thank the NZ Institute of Management Foundation for helping me continue to move forward and I am honoured to receive this scholarship.”

Applications for the 2019 NZ Institute of Management Foundation scholarships close on September 30 2018. The scholarships are open to postgraduate students studying at Massey University. For more information visit

-Supplied by Massey University.

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