Toi Ohomai Graduate’s Strong Foundations
Rather than sitting on the couch clocking up Netflix hours, Levi Chand has used the COVID-19 pandemic to focus the vision for his ideal career path.
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Management from Toi Ohomai, Levi has been contracting to a business solutions firm that helps indigenous organisations reach their goals.
He says he helps to build and develop current business trends that will make a difference to his clients’ future.
But with the pandemic and lockdown, Levi says his focus has shifted and he wants to move into a management role in the public sector.
“People will say I’m crazy, but I’m hungry for it. I am guided by the wise words of Professor Te Wharehuia Milroy, who said: ‘Tūwhitia te hopo’. It means to feel the fear, just do it anyway! This is the quote that I live by now.”
He says he knows the move will have its challenges because “it isn’t always easy being Māori and walking the corporate corridors”.
“I know with this type of power comes great responsibility but I want this to be my success as a change leader. I also need to be sitting at the table with the big guns if I’m going to achieve my goal. A wise man once said: ‘Do you want to sit at the table or be the server?’ It’s a little harsh but it resonates with me as a young Māori.
“And it helps to know that I’m not alone in this journey – my whānau, iwi, hapu are all with me. That makes me more determined to break barriers.”
Levi is fiercely proud of being Māori and it’s his desire to help his people that drives him.
He says being raised in Te Aō Māori has provided him with strong foundations and experiences like being able to perform for Te Kapa Haka o Ngāti Whakaue gave him the confidence he needed to foot it in the business world.
“My whakapapa, my heritage, plays a significant role in my life. Let’s be real, without them, we wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful that my ancestors were with me through the highs and lows, peaks and troughs.
“Knowing they had my back through the tears and triumphs made it a little easier. Whakapapa is all about identity. A line of descent, connecting us to all living things. It’s this understanding that drives me to succeed in my own goals, because I know I’m helping to make a better place for my people, my whenua and those generations to come, just like my ancestors did.”
He says studying at Toi Ohomai has helped him work towards this goal by giving him the skills and experience that he needed.
Before studying at Toi Ohomai, Levi worked in the national accounts team at an international food service provider. But he says he knew if he wanted to grow and actually help people, he needed a qualification.
While studying at Toi Ohomai he also worked three days a week for the first two years, then in his final year he was selected to be part of an internship programme at Rotorua Lakes Council in the Organisational Development team.
Levi says when he finished the internship, he focused on studying, which helped him tighten up his already impressive skillset.
“It was the best decision I made. I wasn’t getting A+’s all the way through, but it was close and it meant I could really focus. It also inspired me to look at further study and one day I would like to return to do my master’s degree.”