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Student profile: Janna Tay

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Janna Tay is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts and Laws at the University of Auckland. Though she has not yet graduated, Janna has already built an impressive array of experience. She is a published poet and playwrite who has performed in noted theatres and has also immersed herself in the more revolutionary corners of the worlds of law and business, inspired by her experiences with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I had a free summer in my second year of uni and I wanted to learn skills beyond my Law and Arts degree – Summer Lab was a great introduction to entrepreneurship and business generally. It showed me that it is entirely possible to turn ideas into reality. I got to know people in the social innovation sphere and did The Social Experiment (a design thinking workshop), co-organised a Social Hackathon, joined the World Economic Forum Global Shapers, and was a team mentor at a recent NZTA Hackathon. All of that came from the interest sparked and knowledge gained in Summer Lab”.

Janna credits her output to her curiosity and restlessness. She says that the more she has put herself out there, the more the world has opened up to her. “I’ve had the privilege to be able to do all of these things, and that’s been a big driver in pushing me to make the most of what I can access and then use that to create opportunities for other people. The less it becomes about me, the more I feel compelled to do it”.

Janna’s play Homecoming dealt with societal and familial expectations as a woman of colour. She is a deep-thinker who is aware of how her life is shaped by her intersectionality.

“Entrepreneurship is less accepted in my family’s culture if only because it’s what we always had to do. And so professional careers like law, medicine and accounting are seen as more stable and lucrative. My great-grandfather ran a shop; my grandfather had his own business because he farmed and fished; my father has always had his own enterprises and investments. It was entrepreneurship as a way of life. My background definitely influenced my choice to do law but I hope to be able to carve innovation and entrepreneurship into that path, particularly through working in legal tech”.

Law may be seen as a safe-haven profession, but all industries are being disrupted. Janna has front-row access to see this. She works part-time at Zeren, Chapman Tripp’s technology and innovation business. “Zeren in essentially a legal tech ‘startup’ within a top-tier commercial law firm. We optimise legal processes from basic document automation through to bespoke industry solutions, particularly for regulation. If a business has a slow and repeatable legal process, we make it faster and more cost-efficient through automation and data.”

For students curious about innovation and entrepreneurship and wondering where to start, Janna suggests first finding mentors and building relationships. “That’s where you learn the most and can get the most support and access to opportunity. I would start in an environment like uni programmes where you can receive guidance and training in a way that makes it safe for you to take risks. Uni is the best time to do it – you are, believe it or not, the most free when you’re at uni. Plus, once you get out into the real world, similar programmes cost a lot of money”.

Janna is hungry to continue to learn and do. After graduation she aims to join a professional law firm to get a strong commercial grounding and at some point continue on to postgraduate study. “Ultimately I want to use everything I’ve learned to be useful to the world”.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

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Janna Tay is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts and Laws at the University of Auckland. Though she has not yet graduated, Janna has already built an impressive array of experience. She is a published poet and playwrite who has performed in noted theatres and has also immersed herself in the more revolutionary corners of the worlds of law and business, inspired by her experiences with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“I had a free summer in my second year of uni and I wanted to learn skills beyond my Law and Arts degree – Summer Lab was a great introduction to entrepreneurship and business generally. It showed me that it is entirely possible to turn ideas into reality. I got to know people in the social innovation sphere and did The Social Experiment (a design thinking workshop), co-organised a Social Hackathon, joined the World Economic Forum Global Shapers, and was a team mentor at a recent NZTA Hackathon. All of that came from the interest sparked and knowledge gained in Summer Lab”.

Janna credits her output to her curiosity and restlessness. She says that the more she has put herself out there, the more the world has opened up to her. “I’ve had the privilege to be able to do all of these things, and that’s been a big driver in pushing me to make the most of what I can access and then use that to create opportunities for other people. The less it becomes about me, the more I feel compelled to do it”.

Janna’s play Homecoming dealt with societal and familial expectations as a woman of colour. She is a deep-thinker who is aware of how her life is shaped by her intersectionality.

“Entrepreneurship is less accepted in my family’s culture if only because it’s what we always had to do. And so professional careers like law, medicine and accounting are seen as more stable and lucrative. My great-grandfather ran a shop; my grandfather had his own business because he farmed and fished; my father has always had his own enterprises and investments. It was entrepreneurship as a way of life. My background definitely influenced my choice to do law but I hope to be able to carve innovation and entrepreneurship into that path, particularly through working in legal tech”.

Law may be seen as a safe-haven profession, but all industries are being disrupted. Janna has front-row access to see this. She works part-time at Zeren, Chapman Tripp’s technology and innovation business. “Zeren in essentially a legal tech ‘startup’ within a top-tier commercial law firm. We optimise legal processes from basic document automation through to bespoke industry solutions, particularly for regulation. If a business has a slow and repeatable legal process, we make it faster and more cost-efficient through automation and data.”

For students curious about innovation and entrepreneurship and wondering where to start, Janna suggests first finding mentors and building relationships. “That’s where you learn the most and can get the most support and access to opportunity. I would start in an environment like uni programmes where you can receive guidance and training in a way that makes it safe for you to take risks. Uni is the best time to do it – you are, believe it or not, the most free when you’re at uni. Plus, once you get out into the real world, similar programmes cost a lot of money”.

Janna is hungry to continue to learn and do. After graduation she aims to join a professional law firm to get a strong commercial grounding and at some point continue on to postgraduate study. “Ultimately I want to use everything I’ve learned to be useful to the world”.


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