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From carpenter to accountant the right move for EIT Graduate

July 26, 2021

EIT Business graduate Ian Russell hard at work at Tumu Group in Hastings.

EIT graduate Ian Russell spent 20 years as a carpenter and builder until he decided to change direction and study fulltime for a Bachelor of Business Studies in Accounting from EIT.

It is a decision the 40-year-old does not regret, and he is now employed as a graduate accountant at Tumu Merchants Limited in Hastings.

“Anyone who is a builder or carpenter will tell you that it is a very tough, hard job on the body, and one does get to the point where one says: ‘Right, let’s think smarter, not harder,”  says Ian, reflecting on life as a builder.

It is not lost on Ian that he has taken a big step from building to accounting.

“Back in high school, people would ask me what double degree I would be doing. I used to reply that I was studying carpentry and they would say: ‘Oh, is there a degree in carpentry?’ But, at that stage I didn’t want to be stuck in an office. I absolutely enjoyed the job for 20 years and still do, but now it is time for something new.”

Ian enrolled in the EIT School of Business’ Bachelor of Business Studies Programme, majoring in Accounting, in 2018 graduating in 2021.

As part of his degree, Ian did an Industry Based Learning (IBL) project at Bostock New Zealand in his final year – an experience he enjoyed.

“It confirmed to me that I did not want to work for a large accountancy firm, but would be happier in a commercial business, especially a family business.”

“That is what Bostock is and to an extent Tumu is as well, because the owners are part of the day-to-day management staff.”

As part of his IBL, Ian had to do a project at Bostock.

“It started out as transitioning an apple forecasting model from one operating platform to a more dynamic platform, but became a much larger project, which Bostock were happy with the results.”

Ian says he is enjoying his new role at Tumu because it allows him to do a wide range of different work.

“I am not just doing one aspect of accounting. There is management accounting, payroll and with the new financial year, many aspects of financial accounting.”

Sam Snee, who is Ian’s manager and the Financial Controller of Tumu Merchants Limited, says Ian has fitted into the role well.

“We are pleased to have Ian as part of the team. We have had positive experiences when hiring people who have graduated from the EIT School of Business and currently have five EIT graduates working for us.”

Ian says one of the strengths of EIT is the small class sizes in the Business Programmes.

“You’re not a number, you are a name and a person. The tutors know who you are, and they become very approachable because you are not one of 150, but rather one of about 30 or less.”

“You’re able to get the feedback much easier and you’re not swallowed up amongst everybody else, and you can do really well.”

Another aspect of EIT that appealed to Ian was the range in age of the students.

“In our classes we had anything from 17-year-olds all the way through 65.”

“These students bring their life skills to the Programme. Many have already worked in an industry, and they understand the practical applications of a lot of what you’re learning and therefore can pass on their real-world experiences,” says Ian.

“It’s always good to see our students getting good jobs at local businesses,” says Conrad Schumacher, Programme Co-ordinator of the New Zealand Diploma in Business Level 5 and one of Ian (and Sam’s) former lecturers.

“Ian came into our degree with a strong sense of where he wanted to go and worked towards that all the way through. Having students like that in class really lifts those around them as well, to work hard at their studies and really get to grips with what they’re learning.”

“So, when they leave here, they’re ready to apply it in the real world.”

Russell Booth, the Programme Coordinator of EIT’s Bachelor of Business Studies, says: “Ian was one of the most conscientious and dedicated students during all of his studies.

“As a result, he won the ‘Irene Rose Award for Top Student’ in a Level 5 accounting course in 2018 and the prestigious ‘Niki Hibberd Memorial Cup and BDO Award for Best All Round Bachelor of Business Studies Student’ in 2020.  I am pleased that all the hard work and effort has paid off for Ian!”