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Alumni profile: Karla Mangos – An entrepreneurial mindset is a growth mindset

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9 February 2021

In the decade since University of Auckland alumna Karla Mangos graduated from university she has roamed the globe gaining experience, holding roles in Denmark, the Netherlands, London and New Zealand. When asked to summarise her wisdom for current students her advice is to take every opportunity to learn, but to also make room for fun.

At university Karla completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons), majoring in Management, Employment Relations, and Marketing. She participated in the Velocity entrepreneurship programme (then, Spark), taking part in the organising committee as Alumni Lead. “I made some really good friendships as well as networks. It was a great experience and an opportunity to meet all sorts of people you might not normally meet in your degree programme.” 

Participating in extracurricular activities also helped Karla to identify the sorts of roles she might gravitate towards in future. “The skills I developed at Spark and uni honed my strengths, and helped when I was applying for jobs”. She has since worked in project management, primarily in the construction industry.

Her continued connections with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) led to a more recent opportunity – an apprenticeship with the Future Directors programme run by the Institute of Directors New Zealand. CIE Associate Director Darsel Keane introduced her to Tony Falkenstein, CEO of the thriving Just Life Group, which encompasses Just Water and the growing group of companies they have acquired recently in the healthy homes space. Karla explains “Companies with a Board can bring in an intern to learn the inner workings of a Board of Directors. This Future Director sits on the board, attends all the meetings – learns, contributes and has an opportunity to test the waters of directorship. You get full access to the board and see first hand the decision-making process”.

Karla says that innovation and entrepreneurship is of value to all businesses, not just to entrepreneurs. “Intrapreneurship is the skills that you can apply to your work every day. Looking for opportunities, what to change, how to make things better – whether that’s a product, service or process in your business. We’ve seen this everywhere because of Covid; businesses pivoting to take up new opportunities. The local café that is now delivering meals, or the gym that now runs sessions over Zoom.” 

Karla is mindful of the uncertain workforce and that graduates in particular won’t know what the job market will be like in the near future and what opportunities will be available. Her advice to students looking for a competitive edge is to find work experience. “I’ve worked since I was a teenager and I think that experience is really invaluable. Working while studying, even if it isn’t directly related to your degree, will show you what it’s like in a real-world environment. It gives you the opportunity for practical application of what you’ve learned at uni… I’ve also loved hearing great stories about students being entrepreneurial with their side-hustles.”

Karla says, “Make the most of university. Be engaged and have fun.” She also says that balance is important and to not put too much pressure on yourself in a time where it’s hard to plan. “Uncertainty is ok. Covid has taught us it’s ok to slow down and appreciate life. Great ideas and creativity can flow during this time”.

Karla is taking her own advice and continuing to prepare for her own future on a flexible basis. “One of my long-term goals is to run my own business, and I’m figuring out what that is. I want to work for myself, it’s just finding the right time and the right opportunity.”

Nicholas Bing
Nicholas Bing

social media

9 February 2021

In the decade since University of Auckland alumna Karla Mangos graduated from university she has roamed the globe gaining experience, holding roles in Denmark, the Netherlands, London and New Zealand. When asked to summarise her wisdom for current students her advice is to take every opportunity to learn, but to also make room for fun.

At university Karla completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons), majoring in Management, Employment Relations, and Marketing. She participated in the Velocity entrepreneurship programme (then, Spark), taking part in the organising committee as Alumni Lead. “I made some really good friendships as well as networks. It was a great experience and an opportunity to meet all sorts of people you might not normally meet in your degree programme.” 

Participating in extracurricular activities also helped Karla to identify the sorts of roles she might gravitate towards in future. “The skills I developed at Spark and uni honed my strengths, and helped when I was applying for jobs”. She has since worked in project management, primarily in the construction industry.

Her continued connections with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) led to a more recent opportunity – an apprenticeship with the Future Directors programme run by the Institute of Directors New Zealand. CIE Associate Director Darsel Keane introduced her to Tony Falkenstein, CEO of the thriving Just Life Group, which encompasses Just Water and the growing group of companies they have acquired recently in the healthy homes space. Karla explains “Companies with a Board can bring in an intern to learn the inner workings of a Board of Directors. This Future Director sits on the board, attends all the meetings – learns, contributes and has an opportunity to test the waters of directorship. You get full access to the board and see first hand the decision-making process”.

Karla says that innovation and entrepreneurship is of value to all businesses, not just to entrepreneurs. “Intrapreneurship is the skills that you can apply to your work every day. Looking for opportunities, what to change, how to make things better – whether that’s a product, service or process in your business. We’ve seen this everywhere because of Covid; businesses pivoting to take up new opportunities. The local café that is now delivering meals, or the gym that now runs sessions over Zoom.” 

Karla is mindful of the uncertain workforce and that graduates in particular won’t know what the job market will be like in the near future and what opportunities will be available. Her advice to students looking for a competitive edge is to find work experience. “I’ve worked since I was a teenager and I think that experience is really invaluable. Working while studying, even if it isn’t directly related to your degree, will show you what it’s like in a real-world environment. It gives you the opportunity for practical application of what you’ve learned at uni… I’ve also loved hearing great stories about students being entrepreneurial with their side-hustles.”

Karla says, “Make the most of university. Be engaged and have fun.” She also says that balance is important and to not put too much pressure on yourself in a time where it’s hard to plan. “Uncertainty is ok. Covid has taught us it’s ok to slow down and appreciate life. Great ideas and creativity can flow during this time”.

Karla is taking her own advice and continuing to prepare for her own future on a flexible basis. “One of my long-term goals is to run my own business, and I’m figuring out what that is. I want to work for myself, it’s just finding the right time and the right opportunity.”


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