Q&A with Brendon Hickey, EIT Auckland’s Industry Partnerships Manager

September 27, 2022

EIT Auckland’s Industry Partnerships Manager, Brendon Hickey supports international students to gain exposure to real world, business-focused experiences and insights in preparation for their future careers. EIT International Centre reached out to Brendon to find out more.

Tell us about yourself, your background and current role at EIT?

I am employed as Industry Partnerships Manager, based at EIT’s Auckland campus and I have been in the role for over 3 years. My key focus areas are providing employment support for international students and developing mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses, employers and industry representatives, with the objective of promoting our unique talent pool of international students and helping them gain exposure to real world, business-focused experiences and insights.

Having in-depth professional experience in employment relations, industry research, advocacy and settlement support for newcomers in the Auckland region, I am equipped to provide practical and meaningful input to our highly motivated and capable students who, it must be said, are a pleasure to collaborate with as they embark on their career and professional journey.

Tell us about the range of workshops, seminars and events that EIT organises for postgraduate students and how this helps them to prepare for their future careers?

At EIT we pride ourselves on providing an enriched learning experience for students, one that takes people beyond PowerPoint and right to the heart of industry. Our broad range of high profile and distinguished guest presenters enables students to hear directly from industry leaders and experts, such as a Chief Digital Officer from a globally recognised corporation and Microsoft MVPs to a successful start-up IT entrepreneur.

We facilitate student membership of key industry associations to enable critical networking in support of professional development and we host special events to showcase student success to business community partners, prospective employers and supporters.

Being able to “share the room” is invaluable for students and we collaborate closely with major players such as TechTALK, hosting events with industry leaders that are livestreamed so offshore international students can also participate.

Involving successful EIT alumni as guests to share their insights in our ongoing Kineticus employment panel series has added credibility and relevance for current students.

How does EIT align their online Postgraduate offerings to incorporate the needs of industry?

A key theme is mutual exchange. For example, by consulting with leaders and decision makers and engaging subject matter experts, we can more carefully shape our new programmes to specific industry requirements. EIT recognises the current and emerging trends in numerous sectors. For example, the challenges facing the logistics and supply chain sector such as attrition due to an ageing managerial workforce, rapid growth and the infusion of data-driven technology and automated processes. Through EIT’s responsiveness and future-focused strategic thinking, we now have contemporary and robust logistics and supply chain management programmes at Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s degree level.

What skills do you think graduating students need in order to excel in the workplace?

For international students, being able to demonstrate to New Zealand employers an ability to quickly learn new systems, processes and operations to complement their valuable, transferable international experience and expertise. The ability to communicate effectively and manage relationships is critical and we focus strongly on these areas with our specialised Employment in New Zealand programmes.

Those employees who excel are often the ones who apply high-level and up to date industry knowledge in their own workplace settings. Developing this intelligence capability is also a feature of our career preparation.

What are the roles most in demand at the moment?

New Zealand’s tech and digital sector is experiencing a critical skills shortage in many areas. Cyber security, digital healthcare, cloud management systems, fintech (involving digital compliance services), technology accelerated payment systems and mobile engagement are some of the key growth areas where there is the most demand for skills from employers. Software developers and business analysts will always feature in the Top 10 for the foreseeable future.

Management-level procurement and specialist supply chain roles are also heavily in demand. Businesses are having to rethink their approaches to attract and retain talent in a highly competitive labour market.

What are the top three qualities / attributes employers are looking for in potential candidates?

I try to ask this question whenever I meet someone in business: “If you’re looking for a new team member what is the most important consideration for you?”

In addition to obvious technical and job-related competency factors, employers are placing an increasing premium on compatibility and adaptability. They want someone who shares the values of the enterprise and this could be based on innovation and disruption but also sustainable business practices, ethical behaviours and social responsibility – these days profitability is strongly aligned with customer expectations related to a company’s behaviour beyond the bottom line.

The ability to think laterally, show initiative and collaborate effectively are also highly valued attributes.

Tell us about some of the roles EIT alumni have secured over the last 12 months?

We aim to support our students in securing meaningful roles at a suitable professional level in their chosen professional sphere. The employment outcome achievements have been impressive and this is due to the students’ own desire to succeed as well as the preparation they receive to compete effectively in the labour market. The diversity of high-level employment roles held by EIT alumni speaks volumes about their adaptability and versatility combining effectively with their proven credentials.

The positions attained range from Senior Data Warehouse Developer with a large central government agency through to Export Procurement Specialist in pharmacology product manufacturing, and a myriad of roles in between. This includes Cloud Engineer, Commercial Analyst, Application Developer, Cyber Security Analyst and Logistics Operations Manager to name just a few.

New Zealand’s tech sector is a hive of innovation from agritech to biomedicine with new roles emerging all of the time. EIT graduates can be confident that they can compete effectively as employment candidates and offer attractive value adding propositions to prospective employers.