USP Alumni Network

Name: Tarita Hutchinson
Country: Cook Islands

Programme: MBA (2008) PGD International Affairs (2011)

Why did you choose your field of study?
The USP MBA was a natural progression from my undergraduate degree, which was a bachelor of business in accounting and finance from an Australian university.  After graduation I worked for a big 4 accounting firm.  Then I advanced to a few management roles before doing my USP MBA, and later I rounded it out with a PG Diploma in International Relations because understanding the international environment is critical when you are working in a global economy.   

Briefly reflect on your student life at USP?
The best thing about studying at USP was networking with my cohorts in both the MBA and PG Dip.  Today, many of my closest friends and associates are from those cohorts, and they have been a source of great inspiration and encouragement to me.  

Greatest achievement[s] as a student
There were so many highs during my USP student career, especially during the MBA.  The graduation ceremony was a highlight and was very emotional.  In fact, the 2008 graduation ceremony was the first to be held in the Cook Islands and was an amazing achievement for the USP Cook Islands campus team who work tirelessly and fearlessly to deliver education services to our people.  I was most proud, as I had not one, but two healthy babies during the time I was studying for my MBA, and I got pipped at the post for the gold medal by one of my closest friends, but I was amazed with my own ability to balance my work, study & life to accommodate my professional goals to complete my USP MBA.

Career Highlights since Graduation
I am loving the opportunities in my current role at Southpac Trust.  I began here as the Finance Manager and now I run our global operations from right here in Rarotonga.  We have continued to modernize and re-engineer processes to make things easier and more efficient for our clients and team members globally.

Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you?
I really believe in the ďit takes a village concept to raise a child.Ē  My life has been very ordinary but any small successes I have must be accredited to my family and community.  I always strive to pay some of that forward to others in my community.

How do you think USP helped you in your career?
My USP MBA gave me confidence and self belief.  Growing up in a tiny Pacific village the big wide world can seem overwhelming.  I had this gradual understanding that after you strip away race, gender, age or power we all have a common universal truth and that is respect.  Each one of us deserve to give and receive it.

Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges?
I am not one to dwell on success or failure.  I, like most of us, have done things I am very proud of and other things I wish I could do over.  I like to get to the root of any conflict and focus on solutions to resolve it.  I appreciate that people need to collaborate for success, and failure usually comes from poor communication and timing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)?
Hehe, I pray that I will have my USP DBA in the bag before the next ten years is up, and Iím expecting that Southpac Trust will be operating in more jurisdictions with a bigger team of professionals, and perhaps a call to public office may be in my future.

What advice would you give to current and future students of USP?
You have top notch educators with vast knowledge and experience to learn from.  Use the opportunity at USP to frame your future.  Develop life long skills to think independently.  

Please share top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
Remember that post graduation life is a marathon rather than a sprint.  Focus on one day at a time, set small goals and donít be afraid to deviate from the plan.  Life is for living and your career needs to support your personal goals.

What has your involvement been with the University since you graduated?
The USP Cook Islands campus team has transformed the Rarotonga campus into a genuine hub of activity for academics and those who love to learn.  No matter if you are not presently enrolled one always feels welcome to pop in and chat with staff, attend community presentations, see whatís going on and catch up with visiting lecturers.

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