Managing Partner, Southern Cross Partners
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Radio
His fondest memories of studying at AUT are about the people he met, says Cameron Harper who completed a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Radio in 2003.
“One of the reasons I came to AUT was that everyone I had met at AUT was very approachable and committed to helping their students. During my time at university, I met some wonderful and inspirational people who have gone on to do some impressive things, both professionally and personally. Many of our lecturers also recognised what true leadership was, and realised that a few of us had a slightly different approach and helped us harness that.”
He says his communication studies degree helped him build his confidence.
“Doing the Bachelor of Communication Studies helped me realise what I wanted to achieve and gave me the confidence to shoot higher in my career aspirations.
“12 weeks into my first year at uni I landed my first role, which was working Saturday nights at Newstalk ZB and starting the ad breaks. From there one shift became more and at the end of my second year TRN (now NZME) gave me a guaranteed job for when I graduated in 12 months’ time. I also landed a role at TVNZ in my first year. I wouldn’t have had the gumption to do this without the Bachelor of Communication Studies behind me.”
From radio to finance
Since graduating from AUT in 2003, Cameron has had a rewarding and interesting career that has taken him from working as a journalist and producer to successful stints in sales, marketing and account management. Since 2019 he has been working for specialist lending company Southern Cross Partners where he is now a managing partner.
“I look at my career quite differently to many. I’ve always followed my instinct as opposed to being focused on a singular goal. I get it if someone wants to work in a specialist industry and get the applicable skills to do so; that’s amazing. However, that’s not me and that’s why I chose a broad degree like communication studies. It has taught me a skillset that has helped me immensely in having the confidence to move through different roles in vastly different sectors.
“What I’m most proud of is going into different roles and leaving the business in a better place than when I arrived. I love helping my team get the best out of themselves. That to me is the biggest achievement when I can help my colleagues do their best work and grow their careers.”
Moving into the finance industry has been fascinating for Cameron.
“When a bank says no to a borrower a specialist lender like us will step in to help. I’m one of two managing partners at Southern Cross Partners, and my team and I are responsible for loan generation and investment opportunities worth over $230 million. We have an outstanding team of diligent and committed people who are genuinely excited about coming to work and doing their best every day. It’s up to me to make sure the team is motivated to do their best for our borrowers and investors.”
Advice for other students
Cameron, who won the John Foy Memorial Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Radio Broadcasters Association Award for Radio Research while he was at AUT, has some great advice for other students.
“While you’re at AUT, push yourself to do your best work, get involved and ask relevant questions to lecturers and tutors. Don’t be afraid to go on a few tangents; they’ll usually take you to a better destination.
“Be prepared to work hard; you need to make an impression. It’s easy enough to send your CV or a cover letter to a prospective employer but what makes you stand out from everyone else?”
Give yourself options, he adds.
“Your take on life at the age of 18 is very different to your take on life at 30, 40 and 50! Reach out to people who can help you and mentor you, and don’t be afraid to have proper conversations.”
*The Radio major is now known as the Radio and Audio Media major.