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Staff Profile: Jessica Schneider, Programme Coordinator

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8 September 2021

The Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) runs a wide range of free programmes and workshops designed to help students and staff of all faculties at the University of Auckland develop entrepreneurial mindsets and innovative capabilities. Helping students and staff make the most of the opportunities available to them is Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider. 

Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in New Zealand.

A friend of mine was living in New Zealand for a couple of years and I visited her in January 2015 for a road trip, constantly challenging her time schedule by wanting to go on longer hikes, longer walks on the beach – I just could not get enough of this beautiful country! The day I returned to Germany I called my mom, and told her that I wanted to go back to New Zealand and not just for a holiday. In January 2016 I returned for what was planned to be four to six months. I overstayed a smidgen.

What drew you to this role at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

I love the programmes that CIE offers and the different components of the role. When I arrived in New Zealand, I was working in banking and felt that I was missing a purpose. I could see that by working at CIE, I could have a real impact on people’s lives.

Tell us a bit about the support, opportunities and experiences that CIE’s programmes offer students and staff.

Firstly, I want to make the point that everyone is welcome to participate in our programmes! You don’t have to be from a certain faculty. If you’ve never thought of innovation or entrepreneurship, even better – we can teach you more! And we are not just for students. All staff members are also welcome to participate in our programmes and join the maker space. 

Our range of programmes start from helping you come up with an idea to bringing it to the next level. We have a wide range of mentors and experts who can support you, and all kinds of workshops, events and challenges. I’m convinced we have something interesting for everyone.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Seeing people grow and step out of their comfort zone. Our participants do that all the time – it’s inspiring! For example, Summer Lab, our 4 week entrepreneurship programme, had participants who were really shy and struggling to talk to other participants when we started. By the end of the programme they were part of a team, had pitched in front of judges, and could approach strangers with much more confidence. I can see their development in such a short time and I know it will help them in all areas of life.   

What advice would you give budding innovators and entrepreneurs?

Do your market validation! Is there really a problem? Are you really solving the problem? Do your users think solving the problem is valuable? And come and ask for help! We don’t have a stash of coders, app developers or co-founders laying around but other than that, we try our best to help you, support you, and connect you with other people who can help.

When you’re not working, what would we find you doing?

You would see me either running or hiking and taking the 4000th picture of my favourite thing in New Zealand – ferns! If it’s raining you’ll find me snuggled up reading or (if I’m convinced that I’m alone) jump-dance-headbanging through my apartment with my headphones on, listening to my favourite music. 

What is something you’ve never done, but would really like to try?

I’ve wanted to try pottery ever since seeing the movie ‘Ghost’, but I think it’s only fun with a young Patrick Swayze. Swimming with dolphins is also on my list!

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

8 September 2021

The Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) runs a wide range of free programmes and workshops designed to help students and staff of all faculties at the University of Auckland develop entrepreneurial mindsets and innovative capabilities. Helping students and staff make the most of the opportunities available to them is Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider. 

Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in New Zealand.

A friend of mine was living in New Zealand for a couple of years and I visited her in January 2015 for a road trip, constantly challenging her time schedule by wanting to go on longer hikes, longer walks on the beach – I just could not get enough of this beautiful country! The day I returned to Germany I called my mom, and told her that I wanted to go back to New Zealand and not just for a holiday. In January 2016 I returned for what was planned to be four to six months. I overstayed a smidgen.

What drew you to this role at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

I love the programmes that CIE offers and the different components of the role. When I arrived in New Zealand, I was working in banking and felt that I was missing a purpose. I could see that by working at CIE, I could have a real impact on people’s lives.

Tell us a bit about the support, opportunities and experiences that CIE’s programmes offer students and staff.

Firstly, I want to make the point that everyone is welcome to participate in our programmes! You don’t have to be from a certain faculty. If you’ve never thought of innovation or entrepreneurship, even better – we can teach you more! And we are not just for students. All staff members are also welcome to participate in our programmes and join the maker space. 

Our range of programmes start from helping you come up with an idea to bringing it to the next level. We have a wide range of mentors and experts who can support you, and all kinds of workshops, events and challenges. I’m convinced we have something interesting for everyone.

What is your favourite part of your job?

Seeing people grow and step out of their comfort zone. Our participants do that all the time – it’s inspiring! For example, Summer Lab, our 4 week entrepreneurship programme, had participants who were really shy and struggling to talk to other participants when we started. By the end of the programme they were part of a team, had pitched in front of judges, and could approach strangers with much more confidence. I can see their development in such a short time and I know it will help them in all areas of life.   

What advice would you give budding innovators and entrepreneurs?

Do your market validation! Is there really a problem? Are you really solving the problem? Do your users think solving the problem is valuable? And come and ask for help! We don’t have a stash of coders, app developers or co-founders laying around but other than that, we try our best to help you, support you, and connect you with other people who can help.

When you’re not working, what would we find you doing?

You would see me either running or hiking and taking the 4000th picture of my favourite thing in New Zealand – ferns! If it’s raining you’ll find me snuggled up reading or (if I’m convinced that I’m alone) jump-dance-headbanging through my apartment with my headphones on, listening to my favourite music. 

What is something you’ve never done, but would really like to try?

I’ve wanted to try pottery ever since seeing the movie ‘Ghost’, but I think it’s only fun with a young Patrick Swayze. Swimming with dolphins is also on my list!


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