Deborah Ward

Deborah Ward

Co-Owner/Strategic Director, A-Ward Ltd & Output Envy
Master of Business in International Business with Honours (First Class)
Graduate Diploma in Business

As the strategic director of two companies, business alumna Deborah Ward enjoys the challenges a career as an entrepreneur offers.

“I enjoy change and solving problems – it’s motivating when you’re consistently moving forward and achieving set goals. I co-own and am strategic director of an international company with my husband, called A-Ward Ltd, and of my new venture, Output Envy, a New Zealand based company offering off-grid and recyclable products for home and commercial use.

“Daily decision making and thinking outside of the box in this challenging international environment is a large part of mitigating our risk, including regularly examining the health and safety around manufacturing large machinery, costs in freight, region access, profitability, and legal aspects. Analysing and researching across a wide range of industries we supply technology to and creating digital sales and marketing strategies have also featured more prominently over the past two years with many countries locked down.”

Deborah is proud of what she has achieved in her career so far.

“I’m proud of reaching a level of business success and understanding where I can help the community either through mentoring SMEs or by supporting local clubs and foundations. I was honoured with a Beta Gamma Sigma recognition and have a great relationship with this organisation. A-Ward has been recognised for multiple business and technology awards in New Zealand and internationally, including the Swedish Steel Award and Westpac Business Awards. This year, we’re a finalist in the NZTE Business awards for the most innovative business response to COVID-19.”

A life-changing experience
She still has fond memories of studying at AUT, says Deborah who completed a Graduate Diploma in Business in 2016, followed by a Master of Business in 2020.

“Completing my master’s degree dissertation was life changing. My research was conducted through interviews with small and medium sized New Zealand businesses that had recently entered the United States to understand if they had experienced any effects from increasing protectionism and nationalism. At the time, this was under Donald Trump’s presidency, and it was an extremely interesting time to conduct research.

“A-Ward manufactures in New Zealand and Mexico and sells container loading and unloading products around the globe, with distributors and agents in over 50 countries. We spent time living and setting up the business in the US, so this region has been important to us from a personal and business perspective. This research helped me enormously to understand the changes in hegemony that were affecting the US, and how this could potentially benefit or hold risk for business in the future.”

She was particularly impressed by the academic staff she met throughout her studies.

“AUT's business lecturers are incredibly knowledgeable and encouraging. Dr Fiona Hurd and Dr Swati Nagar were inspirational through my AUT journey and my biggest cheerleaders. I can’t speak highly enough of the support and incredible knowledge these two academics have provided. I was encouraged to do my master’s degree after Dr Fiona Hurd asked me to speak on my business processes to a class, and I realised this would be beneficial in providing knowledge to move towards professionalising the business and in our transactions with multi-national corporations.”

Advice for other students
Deborah has some great advice for other students who are only at the start of their university journey.

“Recognise that not every day will be easy, but these are the days that you will learn the most about yourself, and the importance of dedication and resilience. Remember that learning is a lifelong journey.”

Her other piece of advice is to make the most of university life.

“Make the most of your time at university and get involved with everything AUT has to offer.”