Staff Spotlight: Nadia Bulanova

International Student Advisor - International Student Support Services


Nadia has some understanding of an International Student journey as she used to be one of them. Originally from Russia, Nadia chose New Zealand to complete her postgraduate studies there. Once done, she decided to stay and contribute to other international students' success by supporting them on their way at Unitec.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory? This is very difficult to pick, I seem to have thousands :). One would be a beautiful winery spot in the north of South Island. While being on a self-guided tour of a winery, I suddenly drove to a high cliff and found myself in a place where vineyards meet the ocean. It was all sun-lit, and fresh wind from the ocean added to the smells of ripening grape and freshly cut grass. The view was breath-taking, and the feeling - a mix of happiness, freedom and overwhelming awe at the stunning beauty around. New Zealand is rich in natural beauty spots, but that one was simply iconic.

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

With each day like no other, I have definitely grown since I joined Unitec. I have become more pro-active, more comfortable and confident about other cultures and traditions, and more open-minded. Those students that come to see me bring their own perspectives, world views, and ideas - it's always exciting to hear them speak and to be able to support them. While helping them, I am learning from them as well - and this is a win-win partnership, a never-ending journey!

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

As I am working with the Inbound Exchange students, I can only share a story of a student who came to Unitec for a Semester Abroad. She was plainly a city girl and preferred to stay as close to civilized places as possible. However, one weekend she set off tramping with her friends. They thought it was a short track, but were caught by sunset still in the bushes in the middle of nowhere. The phone battery died, and they could not see anything in the dark. To make things even more extreme, it started to rain. Luckily, they came across a hut and spent the rest of the night there, trying to keep warm and waiting for the sunrise. The next morning they left the hut at dawn and safely returned home after their unexpected adventure.

I really loved the way that girl described their night stay in the hut, with rain pouring down and them sitting together and sharing scary stories. It must have been very special - and a good lesson too! Now I am using this story when instructing new students about tramping in New Zealand and necessary preparation.

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

If I were to return to studies and to choose a completely different path, I would most likely go for the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at Unitec. This programme fascinates me with its science, technology, art, and design ties, all brought into a tight knot to brighten our spaces. This occupation genuinely changes the face of cities, making them more comfortable and eco-friendly to live in, inspiring its citizens and finding complex solutions to existing challenges. Landscape architects can turn a dull town into an attractive and unique place, giving its citizens something to be proud of and associate themselves with. Isn't it magic?

Positive changes in environmental and urban design have great influence over local communities, society and even humanity in the long run, so I find Landscape Architecture both fascinating and very practical.

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

I am always saying that Unitec's greatest thing is its people. It's literally built up of wonderful teams, highly devoted staff that is happy to support students and each other. With each day like no other, they are doing amazing job, finding ways to further improve processes and procedures. Keeping eyes, ears and hearts open to students' feedback, we might be not the ideal institution (yet) but closing the distance each day.

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

I believe the most important thing is never to assume you are the best. Yet, to do everything you can each day to become a little better than you were yesterday. Continuous improvement is not just words, it's an organizational religion if you please.

Another factor of success is to stay true to oneself. With all challenges and tough times on the way, if one remembers their goals and motivation, the real sense of their work and what holds them together, they are on the right track.