Geoffrey Mather, EIT’s new assistant Head of the Schools of Business and Computing, brings a wealth of international experience, and he believes whakawhanaungatanga (forming and maintaining connections between people) will be an important part of his role.
Geoffrey, who marks a milestone birthday this month, says that it was a visit to Napier over Christmas last year that sparked his interest in moving to Hawke’s Bay from Hamilton where he was teaching at Wintec.
“I was with my parents, and it was my first visit to Napier in more than 40 years. There was something about the vibe, so when I returned to Hamilton, I decided that I would do what I could to try and relocate to Napier.”
Geoffrey’s career as an educator has taken him abroad, mainly to Asia, where he has gained valuable experience in his profession. He went to high school in Hamilton, did a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Waikato and followed it up with a Masters of Management Studies, majoring in Economics.
“I went to the USA for six months, hoping to be a stockbroker in New York, but that did not work out, so I returned home, and my first full-time role was teaching business at AUT in Auckland. I lived there for over five years during which AUT offered me a teaching exchange in Bangkok, Thailand.”
“I had never been to Asia before so thought: ‘Yes, why not’. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and when I returned I was offered another teaching exchange in Nanjing, China.”
Geoffrey says he enjoyed China so much that he decided to stay in Shanghai, where he worked for more than twelve years.
It was here that he met his partner, Kenny, who has a background in hospitality management and is originally from Malaysia.
Their relationship soon became long-distance, which it still is now, as Kenny moved to Taipai in Taiwan. After a stint in Malaysia together where Geoffrey could not secure work, he returned home to Hamilton where he worked in Wintec’s School of Business before he decided to come to EIT.
The two have not seen each other since the outbreak of COVID-19 but are able to keep connected online. They hope to meet up when COVID-19 allows.
Geoffrey says he has a strong sense that he is exactly where he should be.
“As I get older, I’m even more convinced that I’m exactly where I need to be. Not just education, but EIT and in the schools that I’m associated with.”
While his new role will not see him doing any lecturing, his passion is economics and business in general.
“I didn’t find economics, economics found me. It started in high school when I took economics for the first time and my teacher had an ability to break economics down and make it fun, and it just instantly resonated with me.”
“Later, when I joined AUT, I had the opportunity to teach economics. I love helping others and I’m very passionate about economics and business in general. I like when the dots get connected, there’s those light bulb moments that happen, in the classroom, or even with colleagues, just helping them do whatever they need support with. Education seems to be my lane – an area where I can excel.”
Connecting with people ( whakawhanaungatanga) is what he enjoys most about his job.
“I enjoy finding out what makes people tick. I’ve been fortunate to come across a diverse range of individuals over the years , and I have been able to connect with most of them and have really deep conversations, and that fascinates me.”
As for his new job, Geoffrey sees it as assisting John West, who is Head of the Schools of Business and Computing, with management duties.
“We are still working through everything, but I will be looking at moderation and seeing if there is any way we can streamline things. I will also look at course evaluations and staff reviewing systems and processes . However, I am open to helping in whatever way I can.”
Apart from getting stuck into his new role, Geoffrey is also looking at getting out and about in the Hawke’s Bay sun.
“I enjoy being with nature and I’m actually thinking about getting a bike too, because there’s lots of bike paths, that I’ve noticed.”
The School of Business and the School of Computing are excited to welcome Geoffrey to the team.
“Geoffrey’s significant experience in the delivery of New Zealand qualifications both in a domestic and international context make him a valuable addition to the team,” says Head of Schools John West.