Embarking on journey of lifetime

Ashley King can’t wait to get stuck in and combine her personal and professional passions via a ground-breaking degree-level programme at Otago Polytechnic – the Bachelor of Leadership for Change.

The innovative, New Zealand-first qualification is aimed at those driven by a desire to create positive change for industry, community or the planet.

In short, the Bachelor of Leadership for Change is for “big thinkers” and “doers”.  

Launched recently, the qualification takes three years to complete but learners have the flexibility to progress at their own pace.

As part of the application process, learners identify a career goal they wish to achieve as part of the degree. This can be either an existing career or one they want to develop as they progress through the programme.

“Seeing a degree that has ‘Leadership’ and ‘Change’ – both very powerful words – in its title attracted me,” Ashley says.

“As I learnt more about the Bachelor of Leadership for Change, I felt it was perfect for me.

“As an already aspiring social entrepreneur who has passion for business and social services, I want to seize this opportunity to build a bridge between these two sectors.”

Inspired by a range of life experiences, Ashley wants to set up her own social enterprise in the next few years, to empower and inspire youth in a range of ways, including employment and education.

“I want to use this social enterprise opportunity to help youth embrace their unique individuality along with others. Because when we accept ourselves and listen to one another, we can truly accomplish great things.”

She even has a name sorted for her social enterprise – Ashley & the Riot.

“Young people have so much to say and to do for our country, so let’s inspire and empower them.”

The Bachelor of Leadership for Change is significantly self-directed and project-based, focusing on transferable skills. Although it is a new degree, it is based on Capable NZ's highly successful Independent Learning Pathway. To date, more than 1200 learners have graduated with degrees and postgraduate qualifications using this framework.

A highly experienced team of skilful and innovative facilitators support and nurture students throughout the process, which will include regular catch-ups as well as evaluations.

From the first year, students will be required to work alongside, and within, businesses or organisations in the field in which they wish to effect change.

Benchmarked against existing programmes in Australia, Canada, the United States and Denmark, the Bachelor of Leadership for Change is novel in that it maintains a vocational focus while not being tied to any one particular vocation.

“The purpose of the degree is to meet the needs of learners who want to develop a practice or career that is not well captured by current, available professions,” Bachelor of Leadership for Change Programme Leader Prof Sam Mann explains.

The degree’s independent and flexible structure are significant departures from traditional narrow, subject-based outcomes and predetermined set courses.

Ashley, who has also enrolled in a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4) at Otago Polytechnic this year, welcomes the flexibility of the programme.

“Since I was 13 years old, I have learnt to grow from my mistakes, try new things and believe and fight for my dreams. I need the opportunity to think up ideas and to bounce those ideas off people.

“As I progress through the degree I intend to focus more on the legal and financial aspects of having a social enterprise.

“But I also have other ideas and concepts I’d like to grow, so surrounding myself with lots of experienced, skilled mentors and facilitators will help me on my adventure,” Ashley explains, likening the cohort of Otago Polytechnic experts to markers on an unfolding map.

In other words, Ashley is embarking on the journey of a lifetime.