Avikash (Avi) Chandra

Avikash (Avi) Chandra

National Operations Manager, Downer New Zealand
Master of Business Administration

Making the decision to embark on the MBA journey was one of the best decisions of his life, says Avikash (Avi) Chandra who is now the national operations manager at Downer New Zealand.

“Coming from an engineering background, I was undecided whether I should pursue a postgraduate degree in engineering or business. After discussing this with my mentors and becoming clear on my personal growth and career aspirations, it became an easy decision that the MBA was the right mechanism to embrace.

“AUT provides an MBA framework that is best suited for busy people. I did my MBA part-time, managing my work, family and social commitments, and AUT’s course structure made it easy for me to manage all these effectively. I did consider other universities but AUT’s offering was more aligned with my goals and offered well-balanced leadership skills, business principles and networking through applied learning. I couldn’t have done my MBA at a better university.”

With a background in engineering and facilities operations management, Avi says he started the MBA with an operational focus but soon discovered a passion for leadership and high-performance teams.

“It was the course on high-performance teams that really connected with me. This course shifted me immensely and helped me understand what my core values were, while truly understanding the foundations of good leadership. It provided me the knowledge and tools to create high-performing teams.”

A rewarding career
Now working at Downer New Zealand, Avi leads the facilities operations arm of one of the largest asset management/facilities management contracts in Aotearoa.

“I have the privilege to work with the best in the industry as I oversee a large team of facilities management professionals across the country. I focus on people development and operational efficiencies through streamlining of processes and improved synergy across the business. While I am accountable for the financial performance of the contract, generating value for clients remains my focus and underpins my strategy. Managing stakeholder relationships in a multi-stakeholder environment at a national level and growing the Downer culture makes my job so interesting.”

He is proud of what he has achieved in his career so far, says Avi who moved to New Zealand from Fiji in 2001.

“I enjoy all aspects about my career, and I’m extremely proud to have been able to work with some of the best in the industry. Starting as an electrical apprentice in Fiji, I never dreamed that one day I would have the privilege to work on the largest asset management/facilities management contract in Aotearoa for an amazing organisation like Downer New Zealand. My career has provided me with the challenges I needed, the learning opportunities, networking opportunities, the highs, and the lows to strengthen me as a leader. I’m passionate about teams and I strongly believe that people make organisations.”

Advice for other students
Avi wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT to other students.

“AUT is a university of choice, and it provides a culture and environment that will bring the best out of you all the time. The lecturers are amazing, and the university has a good support structure for students across all faculties. My experience at AUT as a student has been rewarding and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained are invaluable.”

He was particularly impressed by AUT’s inclusive and supportive environment.

“The whānau culture makes everyone feel welcomed and part of one big family, regardless of your ethnicity, cultural background or gender.”