Staff Spotlight: Ben McNally-Burn

International Relationship Manager


Ben grew up in the United Kingdom, studied in Poland, lives in New Zealand, but spends about a third of the year in South East Asia, recruiting International Students. As you may be able to tell, Ben loves all things international! Ben's been working for Unitec for over 2 years, looking after the student recruitment for many different regions, but has recently taken over the management of the study abroad and exchange portfolio and is loving every minute!

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory to date is quite a recent one! Over this past summer in New Zealand, a few friends and I set off in a van to surf all the way down the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Stopping at small beach towns in our 'surf wagon', we'd catch waves until the sun went down. Afterward, we'd have a few cold ones and plan the next day, often with new surfers, we'd met along the way. We did this for 2 weeks and finished off taking the ferry to Golden Bay in the South Island to spend New Year’s Eve on the beach with friends.

Bring back the golden days of the summer!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Ever since studying abroad in Poland in 2014, I've just loved being involved and immersed in an international environment. However, since working for Unitec, I've been exposed to working with people from all over the world, with all different cultures, backgrounds and languages. This has been an amazing opportunity for me and I've even been able to take up overseas postings in Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia and The Philippines. Overall, this has made me a much more confident and well-rounded individual.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

At Unitec, we send students all over the world. Often this may be the only opportunity some students get to live and work outside of New Zealand. It’s particularly incredible to hear stories from students who have not only excelled academically overseas but have created a vast social network of friends all over the world. Further, from this, I love to hear about students who use their weekends wisely! – By this I mean travel!

Students from New Zealand long for the ability to ‘nip over to France’ for the weekend, so many of the students we send to Europe will spend their weekends traveling, learning and developing as individuals. It’s hearing stories like these is what makes my job meaningful and fulfilling.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I had the opportunity to study one of Unitec's programmes, I'd probably choose our Bachelor of Applied Technology (Automotive Engineering). Not only are we the only institution in New Zealand to offer a programme like this in Automotive engineering, but automotive engineering incorporates many different forms of engineering such as mechanical and electrical. I've never been that great with cars, especially fixing them, but with Unitec's hands-on, practical approach, I'm sure that I would be 'up to speed' in no time!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Unitec Institute of Technology has been a leader in applied tertiary education for over 30 years. From small beginnings, we have evolved into a dynamic and innovative institution that is redefining what an Institute of technology should be. Therefore, it’s difficult to pick only 1 time when I’ve been especially proud of my team. However, I believe that a stand out is the work that our International Relationship Management team put in during 2018 with a New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) Review looming at the end of the year. As a team, we were able to pull together, get our heads down, and achieve a fantastic result which leads to a special mention from NZQA referring to the great support we give to our international students to ensure their success here at Unitec.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe that the biggest reasons for Unitec's success as a company is our commitment to Te Noho Kotahitanga (TNK), the formalised partnership between Māori and non-Māori. In 2001, Unitec honoured its commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) through the adoption of the partnership agreement TNK. TNK invites us collectively to work together as a whanau and community of staff and students using the five principles to guide our behaviour:

  • Rangatiratanga (Authority and Responsibility).
  • Wakaritenga (Legitimacy).
  • Kaitiakitanga (Guardianship).
  • Nohotahi (Cooperation).
  • Ngākau Māhaki (Respect).

These principles also guide the way in which Unitec staff engage with its students – respecting who they are, what they bring to the learning experience, and how they engage in studies with fellow students.