Ella Agnew

Ella Agnew

Team Operations Coordinator, New Zealand Olympic Committee
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Management

For Ella Agnew, attending AUT’s open day confirmed that studying sport and recreation was the right choice, and inspired her to enrol in a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Management.

“I thought a lot about what I would study at university. I ended up choosing this degree because sport and recreation has always been something I’ve actively participated in, and I knew I would find it interesting and enjoy it. However, it really sealed the deal for me when I attended AUT’s open day and met with a bunch of really passionate lecturers. I was inspired by their passion, and they showed me the exciting opportunities available in the sport and recreation sector.

“I looked back on all my sport and recreation experiences and thought ‘Why did I enjoy that?’. For some other people it could have been the competition or working towards a personal best – but I quickly realised that it was the sense of community that motivates me. I loved the shared experiences of playing a team sport and all the little moments you’d laugh about together after the match. This discovery led me to major in management and formulate some career goals, particularly the goal of working in major sports events to create a sense of community for others.”

While she had many highlights throughout her three years of study, her final-year workplace experience is one of her favourite memories of her time at AUT.

“My placement was with Netball Northern and I spent the year running the Northern Mystics social media accounts. This was during 2020 – the COVID year – where people from all over the world were turning to social media to stay connected. It was an immense privilege to be part of this connection for fans all over the world. It also created an awesome opportunity to research whether social media is an effective partnership leveraging tool. This was a highlight of my studies as I was able to grow my skills and connections in the ‘real world’, which filled me with a greater sense of confidence to begin my career journey.”

Supporting New Zealand athletes
After graduating from AUT at the end of 2020, Ella now enjoys sharing her passion for sport with others through her role at the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

“I initially came here for a year-long internship with the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and now work as the team operations coordinator. I’m part of Team Services; the team responsible for all the operations and logistics of getting the New Zealand team to compete at the different games on the Commonwealth and Olympic Sport calendar. This involves working with the different games organising committees and New Zealand sports organisations to manage things like travel, freight, accreditation, sport entry, the New Zealand team athlete village operations and the performance support team.

“What I most enjoy about this role is the sense of fulfilment I get as it aligns so heavily with my personal ‘why’ of using sport to build a sense of community. The New Zealand Olympic Committee is such a unique organisation as it has to bring together a range of different organisations and sporting codes to be united under the New Zealand team banner while aiming to bring pride to the New Zealand community back home.”

One of her standout moments during her internship was being asked to join the team in travelling to Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“I spent a month based in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Village as one of the New Zealand team operations leads. This was such an awesome experience to be fully immersed in the Commonwealth Games environment and play my part to contribute to the team’s manaaki and success. I feel incredibly grateful for the trust New Zealand Olympic Committee had in me to undertake this role and work closely with athletes and sport leads to ensure that their games experiences went as smoothly as possible.”

Advice for other students
Ella’s advice for other students is simple: start discovering your personal ‘why’ as soon as possible.

“Begin looking at the things you enjoy and ask yourself why you enjoy them. I believe it’s a super helpful exercise when beginning your career journey as it provides a sense of direction and clarity about what possibilities the future could hold for you.”

She knows what she is talking about, and still remembers feeling overwhelmed by the many pathways the sport and recreation sector offered – until she started to think about why she loved sport so much.

“I enjoyed so many aspects of it, but didn’t know how to narrow my focus and start to develop my career journey. It wasn’t until I could articulate why I enjoyed sport that I was able to see a career path forming. I had a lightbulb moment in class when we learned about Simon Sinek’s principle of ‘Start With Why’ – starting by discovering what the purpose or belief is behind what you do before you move onto the how and what.”