Staff Spotlight: Daniel Achonwa

International Relationship Coordinator
Daniel has done his fair share of travelling which has gained him invaluable knowledge and exposure to different cultures, languages and a global network of connections. He has visited and lived in several countries which cut across Africa, Asia, Europe & Oceania, which makes him no stranger to adapting to his ever-changing environment.

He came to New Zealand as a student and fell in love with this beautiful country, after which he decided to live here permanently. He has been with Unitec for 17 months and enjoys his current role - coordinating anything to do with the study abroad and exchange portfolio.

What is your favorite travel memory?

There are quite a few, but one of them would be when I went with some friends on a big boat to a small island on the Coromandel Peninsula. A couple of us in the group went snorkeling & fishing, while the rest stayed back to get things ready for a barbecue. The weather was perfect (summer) and the barbecue, even more, along with the company which made it an experience and a day to remember.

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

If my time with Unitec has taught me anything, it is that you can have a family away from your own family.

Unitec is largely multi-cultural and all-encompassing as it also embraces diversity, not only with students but also with the staff.

I've been involved in various roles since joining Unitec in April 2018, and currently with the International Regional Managers team, which means no two days are ever the same.

So far, I have gained invaluable experience and the knowledge that my input adds value and positively impacts the students' experience further motivates me to always give my best.

Furthermore, working at Unitec has made me much more confident working in a multicultural environment.

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

One of the best updates I've received from a returning student would be one in which the student told me that when he initially embarked on his journey, he had a strange feeling which he could not understand - owing to culture shock. Eventually, he was able to adapt to his surroundings and in the process, his self-learning abilities and independence grew over time along with becoming at ease with making new friends from the region. Essentially, his experience so far has aided in his personal growth and also widened his career prospects.

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

Of the numerous programs, Unitec has to offer, I would likely go for a Postgraduate Diploma in Computing, specializing in Cybersecurity, especially as Unitec happens to have the first Cybersecurity Research Centre in New Zealand.

My interest in this course of study stems from the need to prevent or keep safe from the various threats lurking around internet-connected systems and also help prevent cyberattacks, data breaches, identity theft while aiding risk management.

Consequently, the skills/knowledge gained from cybersecurity would inevitably put me in high demand both in the private and public sectors.

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

Apart from Unitec being not only the largest institute of studies in New Zealand but it is also New Zealand's leading institute in tertiary education, providing both theoretical and hands-on learning, which makes it an attractive choice for students and staff alike.

Furthermore, Unitec is a strong proponent of diversity as can be seen with the students and staff - everyone is welcome here at Unitec, regardless of race, gender identity, sexuality, religion - name it, all are welcome to be a part of the Unitec fanau. Suffice to say that there are numerous factors that contribute to the uniqueness of Unitec.

I'm currently proud of the fact that my current team operates as a family unit, as we are always there to support and help achieve not only team goals but individual goals as well.

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

I believe the success of Unitec lies in the value it places in its people - both student and staff alike, with students being at the heart of Unitec and staff (academic & non-academic) being there to help nurture the heart (students) in every way possible.

Furthermore, Unitec's commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi which is embodied in partnership document - Te Noho Kotahitanga, is another reason for its success. There are 5 principles in the partnership document;

  • Rangatiratanga - Authority and Responsibility
  • Wakaritenga - Legitimacy
  • Kaitiakitanga - Guardianship
  • Nohotahi - Co-operation
  • Ngākau Māhaki – Respect

These principles are reflected in our practice in very many ways and they help guide our everyday interaction (with staff and student). As a result, we all feel a strong connection to Unitec and we operate as one big fanau to achieve our individual and collective goals.