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Staff profile: Judith Marecek

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Judith manages our Velocity programme

How did you end up in New Zealand?
It all happened quite quickly – I met my husband in September, fell in love and were engaged by November. We knew we wanted to travel, so we moved around; we moved from London to Canberra, then to Ireland and finally Estonia, where my husband opened a hotel, before ending up in New Zealand.

We came to New Zealand for a holiday, my sister had lived here, and I had a friend in Auckland. We were kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park when we said to each other: ‘This is beautiful, we’re going to move here.’ Our companions on that trip all said, ‘Yes, everyone says that, but they don’t actually do it.’ But we did. It took a year and a half to get through the paperwork but we did it – we moved here in 2009.

You’re far away from both of your home countries, is that hard?
Yes but we didn’t want to live in either the Netherlands or Germany because we’d seen couples who came from different countries try to live in either one or the other person’s country and have problems.

How did you come to work at the University?
When I first came to New Zealand I wanted any job, just to get established, but later I worked for Penguin publishing and Pearson educational publishers. But I really wanted to use my organisational skills, and I had the chance to cover for someone on maternity leave who worked here on the entrepreneurial programme Spark, that later became Velocity, based at the Business School.

Tell us about Velocity and your role
Velocity has been going for 14 years now. It’s funded entirely by sponsorship and run by students from all over the University, from first years to PhDs.

My job is to manage the organising committee; to organise events and workshops with them and to provide support; to make sure they have what they need to get their great new ideas out to the world. Velocity isn’t just for business students.

The programme offers a learning opportunity for staff and students from all faculties. We want to give people an innovative mind set, a new way of thinking that can be applied to any situation or job. Those who take part learn how to solve problems in a creative way, interact with the world, develop life skills and work with other people. We also connect them with support networks and mentors; Uni Services, for example, is a great supporter of Velocity.

Do you think what you do changes lives?
Yes it really does. You see such incredible personal growth. You see students making budgets, setting targets, developing creative ideas and solving problems that could have an impact not just for New Zealanders, but people all over the world. New start up Cat-Trax, for example, is all about improving access to (and the costs and outcomes of) cataract surgery, via a digital software application programme.

The initiative came out of Velocity and it’s about to be piloted in the Waikato region. If the trial is successful, it will go nationally, and maybe internationally. When I hear these stories, it’s very clear what the point of my job is and it feels like Velocity is making a real difference. The things that come out of it might be immediate or they might take ten years. It takes time to build an eco-system and now our alumni are coming back and we’re building this history of success. It’s very heart warming. I’ve never had that feeling about a job before.

When you’re not working, what would we find you doing?
We live in Browns Bay and we love taking our two dogs, our “babies”, (a retriever poodle and Labrador poodle) for walks in the bush or on the beach.

By Julianne Evans. Reproduced with permission from UniNews, the University of Auckland’s staff newsletter.

 

Judith Marecek
Judith Marecek

social media

Judith manages our Velocity programme

How did you end up in New Zealand?
It all happened quite quickly – I met my husband in September, fell in love and were engaged by November. We knew we wanted to travel, so we moved around; we moved from London to Canberra, then to Ireland and finally Estonia, where my husband opened a hotel, before ending up in New Zealand.

We came to New Zealand for a holiday, my sister had lived here, and I had a friend in Auckland. We were kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park when we said to each other: ‘This is beautiful, we’re going to move here.’ Our companions on that trip all said, ‘Yes, everyone says that, but they don’t actually do it.’ But we did. It took a year and a half to get through the paperwork but we did it – we moved here in 2009.

You’re far away from both of your home countries, is that hard?
Yes but we didn’t want to live in either the Netherlands or Germany because we’d seen couples who came from different countries try to live in either one or the other person’s country and have problems.

How did you come to work at the University?
When I first came to New Zealand I wanted any job, just to get established, but later I worked for Penguin publishing and Pearson educational publishers. But I really wanted to use my organisational skills, and I had the chance to cover for someone on maternity leave who worked here on the entrepreneurial programme Spark, that later became Velocity, based at the Business School.

Tell us about Velocity and your role
Velocity has been going for 14 years now. It’s funded entirely by sponsorship and run by students from all over the University, from first years to PhDs.

My job is to manage the organising committee; to organise events and workshops with them and to provide support; to make sure they have what they need to get their great new ideas out to the world. Velocity isn’t just for business students.

The programme offers a learning opportunity for staff and students from all faculties. We want to give people an innovative mind set, a new way of thinking that can be applied to any situation or job. Those who take part learn how to solve problems in a creative way, interact with the world, develop life skills and work with other people. We also connect them with support networks and mentors; Uni Services, for example, is a great supporter of Velocity.

Do you think what you do changes lives?
Yes it really does. You see such incredible personal growth. You see students making budgets, setting targets, developing creative ideas and solving problems that could have an impact not just for New Zealanders, but people all over the world. New start up Cat-Trax, for example, is all about improving access to (and the costs and outcomes of) cataract surgery, via a digital software application programme.

The initiative came out of Velocity and it’s about to be piloted in the Waikato region. If the trial is successful, it will go nationally, and maybe internationally. When I hear these stories, it’s very clear what the point of my job is and it feels like Velocity is making a real difference. The things that come out of it might be immediate or they might take ten years. It takes time to build an eco-system and now our alumni are coming back and we’re building this history of success. It’s very heart warming. I’ve never had that feeling about a job before.

When you’re not working, what would we find you doing?
We live in Browns Bay and we love taking our two dogs, our “babies”, (a retriever poodle and Labrador poodle) for walks in the bush or on the beach.

By Julianne Evans. Reproduced with permission from UniNews, the University of Auckland’s staff newsletter.

 


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