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Staff Profile: Kirsten Beckman, Velocity Programme Coordinator

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14 October 2021

Velocity is the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurship development programme supported by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Each year, a committee of around 30 students lead the design and development of that year’s programme of talks, workshops, events and challenges. Guiding the student committee through that process is Velocity Programme Coordinator Kirsten Beckman.

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

I came to New Zealand in 2010 on a working holiday, and my visa was due to expire right before the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I decided it would be foolish to leave before that, so I thought I would give it one more year. After eleven years and a Kiwi husband, I think my mom has finally resigned herself to the fact that I might be staying… 

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

I thought it looked exciting! I had never worked with university students before, and although I have a background in training, I thought it would be a fun challenge to work with the Velocity student committee, helping and coaching them to put on the year-long programme. And it is fun – it’s hectic and hilarious, and slightly stressful (students plan things very differently than I do!), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

CIE is also a really interesting place to work. I’m surrounded by a group of people who are supportive, creative, and full of passion, so that was a big draw for me. Working in that environment is incredibly uplifting and their enthusiasm rubs off on you!

Tell us a bit about what Velocity has to offer students and staff. 

Velocity is a great way to get introduced to entrepreneurship. We have seminars where you can listen to founders talk about their journey in building a start-up, networking events where you can meet people from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we run competitions where you can win seed money, gain access to mentors, and potentially turn your dream start-up into a reality. It’s a really supportive environment – we want everyone to succeed! So even if you don’t win the competitions, you get personalised, one-on-one feedback from the judges, and we still encourage you to work on your idea.

What advice would you give people who may not be sure if entrepreneurship is for them?

The word entrepreneurship can be very intimidating. It makes people think of multi-billionaires, advanced complicated technology, and the added stress of having to design your own spaceship.

Instead, what entrepreneurship is really about is growing your critical thinking, creative problem solving, leadership skills, and resiliency. If that’s something you’re interested in, give it a go and don’t be afraid of failure. If nothing else, you’ll acquire invaluable skills that will transfer to any other job you’ll have in the future.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I have the coolest job (and I am totally bragging about it). I have a front-row seat to watch people’s lives change, which is pretty incredible. Whether it’s seeing the Velocity student committee members develop skills that will help them in their careers after they graduate, or people creating ventures with a global impact, I’m surrounded by inspiring people who are striving towards making the world a better place. I’m not sure it gets much better than that!

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

I’ll either be at an art gallery, hiking in the bush somewhere, or trying to find a new creative way to convince my husband that we should get a dog (it’s only a matter of time!)

If you could have lunch with any person in the world, who would it be and why?

I reckon it would be fantastic to have lunch with Billy Connolly. I love being around people who can tell a good story and have funny anecdotes, so he would definitely fit the bill!

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

social media

14 October 2021

Velocity is the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurship development programme supported by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Each year, a committee of around 30 students lead the design and development of that year’s programme of talks, workshops, events and challenges. Guiding the student committee through that process is Velocity Programme Coordinator Kirsten Beckman.

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

I came to New Zealand in 2010 on a working holiday, and my visa was due to expire right before the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I decided it would be foolish to leave before that, so I thought I would give it one more year. After eleven years and a Kiwi husband, I think my mom has finally resigned herself to the fact that I might be staying… 

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

I thought it looked exciting! I had never worked with university students before, and although I have a background in training, I thought it would be a fun challenge to work with the Velocity student committee, helping and coaching them to put on the year-long programme. And it is fun – it’s hectic and hilarious, and slightly stressful (students plan things very differently than I do!), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

CIE is also a really interesting place to work. I’m surrounded by a group of people who are supportive, creative, and full of passion, so that was a big draw for me. Working in that environment is incredibly uplifting and their enthusiasm rubs off on you!

Tell us a bit about what Velocity has to offer students and staff. 

Velocity is a great way to get introduced to entrepreneurship. We have seminars where you can listen to founders talk about their journey in building a start-up, networking events where you can meet people from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we run competitions where you can win seed money, gain access to mentors, and potentially turn your dream start-up into a reality. It’s a really supportive environment – we want everyone to succeed! So even if you don’t win the competitions, you get personalised, one-on-one feedback from the judges, and we still encourage you to work on your idea.

What advice would you give people who may not be sure if entrepreneurship is for them?

The word entrepreneurship can be very intimidating. It makes people think of multi-billionaires, advanced complicated technology, and the added stress of having to design your own spaceship.

Instead, what entrepreneurship is really about is growing your critical thinking, creative problem solving, leadership skills, and resiliency. If that’s something you’re interested in, give it a go and don’t be afraid of failure. If nothing else, you’ll acquire invaluable skills that will transfer to any other job you’ll have in the future.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I have the coolest job (and I am totally bragging about it). I have a front-row seat to watch people’s lives change, which is pretty incredible. Whether it’s seeing the Velocity student committee members develop skills that will help them in their careers after they graduate, or people creating ventures with a global impact, I’m surrounded by inspiring people who are striving towards making the world a better place. I’m not sure it gets much better than that!

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

I’ll either be at an art gallery, hiking in the bush somewhere, or trying to find a new creative way to convince my husband that we should get a dog (it’s only a matter of time!)

If you could have lunch with any person in the world, who would it be and why?

I reckon it would be fantastic to have lunch with Billy Connolly. I love being around people who can tell a good story and have funny anecdotes, so he would definitely fit the bill!


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