CIE » Programmes » Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership Programme

Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership Programme

The Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership programme is a free year-long programme for University of Auckland doctoral candidates from all disciplines. It is designed to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and skills.

Entrepreneurial careers occur within and beyond the world of startups and entrepreneurial skills are relevant in numerous contexts, including academia, social enterprises, community and government organisations, and corporate settings. This programme will equip you with the tools and frameworks to develop ideas, opportunities and solutions, and realise impact and value from them, in a myriad of contexts.

The programme has relevance to doctoral candidates from all disciplines.

Applications for 2023 will open later this year.


Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme, we aim to support participants to:

  • Understand different entrepreneurial career pathways and contexts and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking with their research pursuits
  • Develop awareness and understanding of what an entrepreneurial career might look like for them including how they might apply entrepreneurial thinking in their future career decisions and possible steps to get there
  • Examine their entrepreneurial mindset and how this might be further enhanced
  • Understand relevant innovation and entrepreneurial frameworks
  • Build their network within the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem
    • Be able to better identify and act upon opportunities for creating value from research
    • Engage better in research collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, both within academia and externally


Who is this designed for?

If you are a current doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland curious about expanding your entrepreneurial leadership skills, creating tangible solutions and impact both within and outside of academia, this Entrepreneurial Leadership programme is for you.

No past experience or study of entrepreneurship, start-ups or venture creation is required.


Programme structure

The Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership programme is designed for in-person attendance, and will involve:

  • Kick-off event (3 March)
  • Residential retreat (2.5 days in March)
  • Monthly workshops throughout the year (1-4 pm in the Unleash Space, 20 Symonds Street)
  • Self-directed learning and reflections, and active participation


  • Free programme valued at $5k
  • A network of innovative and entrepreneurial peers
  • Exposure to a network of innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in numerous contexts
  • Knowledge of the organisations in the entrepreneurial ecosystem including professional service firms, impact, social and commercial investors, incubators and accelerators, government organisations, social and commercial startups, community and social organisations and corporates

Participation in the Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership programme is designed to support students to freely share and explore ideas. To enable this, all participants will sign a non-disclosure agreement.


Timing and commitment

Participation in the Doctoral Entrepreneurial Leadership programme involves a year-long commitment with mandatory participation in workshops and additional work and reflection required in participants’ own time.

March 3 – Kickoff event, Unleash Space, 4-5pm
March 29 – Workshop at Unleash Space (time TBA)
April 14 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
May 19 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
June 30 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
July 21 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
August 11 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
September 15 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
October 13 – Workshop at Unleash Space, 1-4 pm
November 9-11 – Residential overnight workshop at Waitakere Resort 

Facilitation team

Dr Deb Shepherd – Programme design and Lead Facilitator

Deb combines a variety of roles all of which have entrepreneurial SMEs and social enterprises at the centre.  She is a part-time Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland’s Business School where her research and teaching focus on social entrepreneurship and innovation, the entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial SMEs, and family businesses. She has been involved as a faculty member in the student-led entrepreneurship programme Velocity (previously Spark) since 2004.

Deb is a co-author of the book “Changing gears: How to take your kiwi business from the kitchen table to the board table” and “Gearing Up: Leading your Kiwi business into the future” (2020).

Deb is a founding faculty member of The ICEHOUSE Growth programmes and has been involved in the development, design and delivery of the Owner Manager business growth programmes for SMEs from all sectors and industries since 2001.

Deb is a part owner and on the board of her family business Biocell Corporation and sits on a number of Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards including Resero Group, Onguard, and Forrest Wines.

Deb is an investor and board member of Soul Capital (New Zealand’s first impact investment fund) and an investor in ICE Angels. In 2018 Deb was asked to be deputy chair of the government-appointed Small Business Council (SBC) which morphed into an advisory role to the Minister of Small Business as part of the Small Business Advisory group. She is an industry representative on the government-appointed Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board (ANZEIB).


Judith Marecek – Programme Manager
Judith is an international award-winning educator who has worked at the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) for the past seven years. Judith has led the evolution of the Velocity entrepreneurship development programme and Summer Lab, both of which have won international awards. She has in-depth knowledge of entrepreneurial education and is passionate about supporting students on their entrepreneurial journeys.



Jessica SchneiderJessica Schneider – Programme Coordinator
Jessica is a well-respected member of the University of Auckland’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) who leads operations for numerous CIE programmes including the VentureLab incubator, Start-up Studio and Summer Lab. One of her superpowers is the ability to create deep and lasting connections with the entrepreneurial ecosystem and CIE participants. Jessica combines this with German efficiency, attention to detail and a can-do attitude.



Applicants are subject to a competitive selection process. To be eligible to apply:

  • You must be actively enrolled in a doctoral programme at the University of Auckland.
  • Your candidature must be confirmed by the commencement of the Entrepreneurial Leadership programme. If you are not confirmed into your programme at the time of application, any offer of a place in the programme will be conditional on you having gained confirmation of candidature prior to the commencement of the programme.
  • You must be within 24 months of full-time equivalent enrolment from the commencement of your doctoral candidature by the commencement of the Entrepreneurial Leadership programme.
  • Full time and part-time candidates are welcome to apply.
  • Candidates must be based on-shore, and able to commit to full attendance of the programme in person.

Please note: your supervisor will need to endorse your application. Your application will not be considered without this endorsement.

Due date for submission is Sunday 12 December, and successful applicants will be advised of acceptance into the programme by Monday 20th December.



Completing the application form will take some time. Complete it as thoroughly as possible, as it will inform the next step of the process—a conversation with CIE—before being invited into the programme. 

The application form asks you to upload:

  1. A supporting document from your Main Supervisor
  2. A short video sharing what you would like to achieve by participating in this programme, and how this programme will support your future career goals 


09 923 4526