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Staff Profile: Peter Rachor, Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow

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25 January 2022

The Hynds Entrepreneurial Fellows Programme run by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) aims to embed innovation and entrepreneurship into curricula across the university. Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow Peter Rachor is dedicated to working with and supporting academics from all faculties to make this happen.

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

I’ve been involved and interested in entrepreneurship my entire life. Originally from Michigan in the USA, I started several small ventures in high school and university and then began my career in roles related to technology innovation. I was very fortunate to work for several telecoms and technology firms all over the world including stints living in London and Hong Kong. I also learned a lot co-founding three technology ventures that ranged in outcomes from complete failures to acquisitions by large listed companies. 

After about 20 years of doing entrepreneurship and innovation, I made a pivot in 2002 to begin teaching these important skills and mindsets to others. In 2008, I was recruited to the University of Portland (Oregon, USA) to direct their well regarded Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. There, I became a strong believer in the combination of curricular (for marks) innovation and entrepreneurship education combined with the many resources and events a Centre can offer. So, when a friend told me about the Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow opportunity and its focus on scaling curricular initiatives across many majors, based in beautiful New Zealand where I had visited several times, I went for it!

What does being the Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow involve?

Essentially, it is about working with great colleagues across the University to empower students from virtually any major or background to understand how they can use innovation and entrepreneurship tools and approaches to make ideas happen. I’m able to leverage many of the things I used and developed in the US to scale for greater impact at the University of Auckland, a top tier research institution with a large student base. It’s pretty much the job I’ve been training for my whole life!

What do you believe is the value of integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into curricula? 

Putting innovation and entrepreneurship into courses exposes students who may not have thought they were entrepreneurial (or just didn’t have the opportunity or means to get involved through extracurriculars) to understand what it really is and how it works inside and outside of existing organisations. It helps develop problem-solving and solution-seeking skills in everyone and demystifies things that sound daunting. It shows students in everything from music to philosophy, pharmacy to biochemistry, how to be part of developing new things and how they can use their skills, knowledge, and passion to get good things done and navigate the uncertainty of developing something new. 

The last few years have demonstrated to us that change is inevitable and we’ll always be looking for new ways to do things. We hear every day in New Zealand about climate change, productivity challenges, social challenges, and technological shifts. Let’s be sure we give all students the tools to be part of that, no matter what their background or what they are studying.

What has been your favourite experience at CIE so far? 

Semester 1 2020 was my first semester collaborating with colleagues to integrate the Hynds innovation and entrepreneurship competencies into courses. In one of these, a required course for all engineering students called Managing Projects and Innovation, I was working with a team of eight colleagues who didn’t know me at all to deliver a course to more than 800 students. Then, a few weeks into the semester we went into our very first Covid-19 lockdown. 

The teaching team was so open and collaborative to integrating much of the content and project approaches I offered – and doing it pretty much on the fly to meet the demands required of going online. Equally, the student teams doubled down and worked tirelessly on their innovations. Despite the lockdown, it is some of the best work I’ve seen from students, leading to a record number of engineering entries into the Velocity programme and several finalist teams! Basically, it rocked, and helped to emphasise the great choice I made in joining CIE.

What advice would you give budding innovators and entrepreneurs? 

It’s a journey, not an event. Students often feel pressure to start a venture of their own soon after graduating to be an entrepreneur. Instead, think about how you can be entrepreneurial in all that you do. Lead an effort for the community garden, organise an outing for the youth group at your church, take on a new project in your graduate role or join a start-up firm in any position you think you can do. A few students start things straight away, and we need to have a channel for them to do that, but it is much more common to innovate, lead, take risks, create, make, invent, and collaborate within organisations and situations of all kinds. Use your entrepreneurial mindset at every turn, take sensible risks, commit, work together, solve problems, and create value for others. If and when an opportunity opens up for you to do it on your own as a new venture down the road, you’re trained and ready to give it a go!

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

Exploring New Zealand’s awesome treasures indoors and out! I love beach walks and tramping, visits to small towns and cities, chats with humble, earnest and kind Kiwis of all ages and perspectives in cafes and parks, and “roadies” with “chilly bins” to “baches” and barbecues.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? 

To really know what someone wants from their life and then be able to do what I can to help them get there. You really can do whatever you want with your life if you just work at it over time.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022? 

Hopefully the chance to have borders open so family and friends from around the world can come to visit and share part of the life I have built here.

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

social media

25 January 2022

The Hynds Entrepreneurial Fellows Programme run by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) aims to embed innovation and entrepreneurship into curricula across the university. Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow Peter Rachor is dedicated to working with and supporting academics from all faculties to make this happen.

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

I’ve been involved and interested in entrepreneurship my entire life. Originally from Michigan in the USA, I started several small ventures in high school and university and then began my career in roles related to technology innovation. I was very fortunate to work for several telecoms and technology firms all over the world including stints living in London and Hong Kong. I also learned a lot co-founding three technology ventures that ranged in outcomes from complete failures to acquisitions by large listed companies. 

After about 20 years of doing entrepreneurship and innovation, I made a pivot in 2002 to begin teaching these important skills and mindsets to others. In 2008, I was recruited to the University of Portland (Oregon, USA) to direct their well regarded Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. There, I became a strong believer in the combination of curricular (for marks) innovation and entrepreneurship education combined with the many resources and events a Centre can offer. So, when a friend told me about the Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow opportunity and its focus on scaling curricular initiatives across many majors, based in beautiful New Zealand where I had visited several times, I went for it!

What does being the Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow involve?

Essentially, it is about working with great colleagues across the University to empower students from virtually any major or background to understand how they can use innovation and entrepreneurship tools and approaches to make ideas happen. I’m able to leverage many of the things I used and developed in the US to scale for greater impact at the University of Auckland, a top tier research institution with a large student base. It’s pretty much the job I’ve been training for my whole life!

What do you believe is the value of integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into curricula? 

Putting innovation and entrepreneurship into courses exposes students who may not have thought they were entrepreneurial (or just didn’t have the opportunity or means to get involved through extracurriculars) to understand what it really is and how it works inside and outside of existing organisations. It helps develop problem-solving and solution-seeking skills in everyone and demystifies things that sound daunting. It shows students in everything from music to philosophy, pharmacy to biochemistry, how to be part of developing new things and how they can use their skills, knowledge, and passion to get good things done and navigate the uncertainty of developing something new. 

The last few years have demonstrated to us that change is inevitable and we’ll always be looking for new ways to do things. We hear every day in New Zealand about climate change, productivity challenges, social challenges, and technological shifts. Let’s be sure we give all students the tools to be part of that, no matter what their background or what they are studying.

What has been your favourite experience at CIE so far? 

Semester 1 2020 was my first semester collaborating with colleagues to integrate the Hynds innovation and entrepreneurship competencies into courses. In one of these, a required course for all engineering students called Managing Projects and Innovation, I was working with a team of eight colleagues who didn’t know me at all to deliver a course to more than 800 students. Then, a few weeks into the semester we went into our very first Covid-19 lockdown. 

The teaching team was so open and collaborative to integrating much of the content and project approaches I offered – and doing it pretty much on the fly to meet the demands required of going online. Equally, the student teams doubled down and worked tirelessly on their innovations. Despite the lockdown, it is some of the best work I’ve seen from students, leading to a record number of engineering entries into the Velocity programme and several finalist teams! Basically, it rocked, and helped to emphasise the great choice I made in joining CIE.

What advice would you give budding innovators and entrepreneurs? 

It’s a journey, not an event. Students often feel pressure to start a venture of their own soon after graduating to be an entrepreneur. Instead, think about how you can be entrepreneurial in all that you do. Lead an effort for the community garden, organise an outing for the youth group at your church, take on a new project in your graduate role or join a start-up firm in any position you think you can do. A few students start things straight away, and we need to have a channel for them to do that, but it is much more common to innovate, lead, take risks, create, make, invent, and collaborate within organisations and situations of all kinds. Use your entrepreneurial mindset at every turn, take sensible risks, commit, work together, solve problems, and create value for others. If and when an opportunity opens up for you to do it on your own as a new venture down the road, you’re trained and ready to give it a go!

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

Exploring New Zealand’s awesome treasures indoors and out! I love beach walks and tramping, visits to small towns and cities, chats with humble, earnest and kind Kiwis of all ages and perspectives in cafes and parks, and “roadies” with “chilly bins” to “baches” and barbecues.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? 

To really know what someone wants from their life and then be able to do what I can to help them get there. You really can do whatever you want with your life if you just work at it over time.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022? 

Hopefully the chance to have borders open so family and friends from around the world can come to visit and share part of the life I have built here.


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