Optometry research – help needed

Are you an Optometry student in their last year at university or have recently graduated? In collaboration with Jocelyn Handy, Dianne Gardner and Michelle Hunt, I am looking at some exciting new research into how optometrists manage retail optometry and being a healthcare professional, including how you see the future of optometry and your career. There is very little research in this area, particularly in a New Zealand context. If you are interested and in the final year of your Optometry degree or you have graduated in the last 3 years we would love to hear from you. Please contact michellehunt1@gmail.com. We only need around 30 minutes of your time. Interviews are confidential and are conducted at your convenience in person, over Skype, on the phone- it is up to you. $20 gift voucher for participating.

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The bones of the earth….

My destination this weekend was the limestone caves of Waitomo, beautiful formations that always put me in mind of ossuaries, hence the title

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Young Enterprise Scheme: Creating futures

It was great to see so many keen and able students being rewarded for their work on New Zealand’s Young Enterprise Scheme on Thursday evening last week.  The Award ceremony for Palmerston North and the surrounding region took place in Downtown Cinemas (just one of many sponsors for the event), and all’s set now for the national finals in Wellington in December.  The atmosphere was fun and informal, with many people dressed in Halloween outfits.

There’s an old saying that it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part, and that’s the case with YE events.  I’ve seen over the years many students in New Zealand and elsewhere, create great businesses, develop great ideas and sometimes go on to be very effective and successful entrepreneurs.  But it’s not just the ideas and the businesses, thought that’s an important of it.  It’s the learning and skills development that goes along with that: leadership, creativity, team development, proactivity, problem solving – to name just a few.

Yes, these skills are needed by entrepreneurs and new ventures, and also by employers generally.  But there’s more to it than that.  The world is changing fast – globalisation and digitisation are presenting huge opportunity and challenge to New Zealand, changing the nature of work and how we live our lives.   The  skillsets obtained on YE will enable students to meet that challenge face on and create not just new ideas and new ventures, but positive and sustainable futures for themselves and for New Zealand.

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Tongariro dreams….

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It’s long been my dream to walk around the volcanic Central Plateau.   Love this last one of Taranaki out to the west, rare for it to be clear at this distance. No words needed on what a fabulous day today was

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Employability, or creating futures?

Employability is an important concept for aspirant students, as they face a challenging job market and have to manage student loans. Too often, discussions around employability become rather reductive, focussing on quantitative measures at the expense of the bigger picture.  The future of work is changing rapidly, digital disruption will continue to reshape the landscape.  If we are looking at a time when we’re:

  • preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet
  • preparing  them for a life where that contain 6-8 ‘careers’ that span interdisciplinary  boundaries,

then what do we need to do?   It’s more than encouraging and developing entrepreneurial behaviours (in a new venture, or larger business).  That’s a given.  They need to be:

  • flexible, agile, creative and resilient
  • digitally aware
  • able to create value in a  range of societal contexts,

so that future change is positive and sustainable for all.  As part of that, they need to pro-actively engage with life long learning. That’s not just about

  • keeping up with your existing or next job
  • retraining post redundancy
  • realising a new interest in a range of contexts

It’s most importantly nowadays about creating futures. We need to enable students to create futures for themselves and others.  That’s what employability  is all about.

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Future (Inc): Walking the walk!

Will technology  disrupt our existing and future infrastructure? was the question asked at the launch of the Chartered Accountants and Australia and New Zealand‘s latest thought leadership paper, Disruptive Technologies: Risks, Opportunities – can New Zealand make the most of them?  at the Auckland Events Centre yesterday evening.   The answer, is yes it will!  And as Grant Robertson, leader of Labour’s Future of Work group stressed,  the task is to make the changes both positive and sustainable for the economy and the community. Technology needs to work for people, not the other way round. Universities have a key role to play in this, collaborating to get that message across and engaging students about leading edge debates in futures – all of our futures, in a world where it might be the norm to have 7 or 8 careers cross different disciplines, supported by lifelong learning.  The task is to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet; skills of digital awareness, value creation, flexibility and agility are just the start.

As well as the very serious messages put across by Grant, Louise Webster (Founder and CEO of New Zealand’s Innovation Council emphasising the collaboration message, and Shamabeel Eaqub (Economist and commentator), it was great fun watching the show, with CEO Lee White working the panel as himself and his own hologram. With holograms, drones, driverless cars, 3D printing and robots, Future(inc) really walked the walk, as well as talking the talk   Some great emerging technologies in the room and a real sense of occasion – bodes well for New Zealand’s future leadership role!

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Building Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Waterloo Innovation Summit

The University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, created the Waterloo Innovation Summit “to foster global innovation conversations with the power to influence change and drive prosperity. Bringing together leading innovators, global thought leaders, policy makers and academics, the annual summit aims to facilitate the expansion of an innovation culture through the continued development of technologies, approaches, and industries.”

Attending the summit this week with a delegation from University certainly proved a case study in how universities can help build regional innovation systems by contributing to the pipeline that goes from ideation to regional impact, via business model development, new venture creation, scaling and growth.

The highlight for me, apart from keynotes by Mariana Mazzacuto and Steve Blank was the use of ‘garage’ style space for collaborative student projects in Waterloo’s Engineering 5 building and other fabulous spaces in the Comunitech.  The garage metaphor is a classic one in start-up discourse, which is a great connection – but it’s not just about start-up, it’s about learning, skills, interdisciplinary connection, employabiity and just about every other kind of innovation win you can name.  Did I mention the interactive games display and the Quantum Orchestra? Memorable.

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5 to 5 bootcamp

The most enjoyable landmarks in my teaching year are connected to experiences where students go through a team-based idea development process.  Last year, the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship paper ran through the Start-Up Weekend, which coincided with our dates.  This year, we did our own thing as a 5 to 5 Bootcamp experience, where students developed new ideas from scratch, using the Business Model Canvas, working on ideas to transform the Higher Education experience.  The guys from the BCC ran the show in the awesome Factory workspace and the sun shone brightly on us too.  As usual, the students were the stars of the show, coming together in teams for the first time to take new ideas forward into potential business models.  It always amazes me just how far people travel during these weekends.  Looking forward to next year!



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Great to see the  Innovate finals at the NZ Sport and Rugby Institute  last week, where the winner, Kevin Halsall’s Ogo, was announced to a full house.  Ogo is a is a revolutionary wheel chair that blends cutting edge electronics and battery technology with an innovative intuitive hands free control system, allowing users to move with ease.  11 finalists demonstrated their ventures, with the top 5 pitching to the judges, a 10K prize to the winner.  The People’s Choice, a Massey University prize was won by Corey Regnerus for Milk E-Z a teat straightening device.  More details of the event here.


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A matter of trust: new research – help needed

New Research on trust in early stage ventures – in collaboration with Dr Melanie Ashleigh from University of Southampton, UK.

The concept of trust is a vital ingredient that contributes to new venture success and yet little or no empirical research exists of how trust is developed across new networks and relationships in the early stages of new ventures. Yet trust is especially important early on due to the anxiety, inherent risk and uncertainty within the start-up process. We also know very little about the ‘dark side’ of trust within this domain, which can impede progress. For example when trust is too high, resulting in a lack of monitoring one’s own and others needs and expectations. Or, when trust breaks down between actors and has to be repaired.

WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE??? We are very excited about this research and would like to interview anyone who is an early stage entrepreneur – so anyone in the first stages of their new ventures! We would love to hear from you to learn about your perceptions and experiences of trust. Please contact us separately via email l.warren@massey.ac.nz or leave a comment to find out more! We only need an hour of your time, for a confidential interview in person, skype, phone – your choice and time. Good experiences and bad!

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