Joel Smith

Joel Smith

Project and Business Development Manager / Director, ultro Audio
Master of Professional Accounting

For Joel Smith, studying the Master of Professional Accounting was eye-opening and his studies gave him the confidence to start his own company.

“I view the Master of Professional Accounting as a financially-focused MBA, especially when combined with my undergraduate degree in marketing and management. Throughout my studies, I came to the realisation that I have the tools and support from AUT to start my own company. This programme gave me the skills and encouragement to create a start-up.

“At the end of 2019, I started ultro Audio, which offers performance earbuds, designed for workouts and developed in collaboration with some of the world’s best audio manufacturers and athletes. We hit our annual sales target in the first four months of last year and have worked with a number of big companies such as ANZ and Deloitte. We’re now looking to introduce some new products this year. My education has given me such a practical understanding of the business world that it will not only help ultro succeed but will continue to provide me with many opportunities.”

While starting a new business is certainly life-changing, that wasn’t the only lightbulb moment for Joel; he also discovered a new passion.

“As part of the Master of Professional Accounting we also touched on aspects of law that I previously wouldn’t have even considered. Because of this I’ve found a real passion for law; in particular law as it relates to business. I would very much like to continue pursuing the legal side of business.”

An outstanding learning environment
The culture sets AUT apart from other universities, Joel says.

“AUT has been an amazing place to meet like-minded people from all areas of the world. The culture at AUT is very diverse and inclusive. This ethos tends to be ingrained throughout the entire university, from librarians to faculty management and lecturers. I also appreciate that AUT accommodates students who are studying and working full-time much better than other universities.”

He has also been impressed by the calibre of the academic staff he has met throughout his studies.

“The knowledge and experience of the AUT staff and lecturers has really impressed me. They’re brilliant in their respective fields and are very well renowned intellectuals globally. This is really evident from a student’s perspective. The staff will go out of their way to help where they can.”

Balancing study and work
Fitting study around his work commitments wasn’t always easy for Joel, especially during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“One of the bigger challenges for me was navigating my way through COVID-19 while holding a full-time job and launching my start-up company. COVID-19 was very unexpected and there was a period where I was really feeling stressed. Fortunately, the staff at the AUT Business School were so amazing to deal with and helped me alter my course load so that I could manage it.”

His advice for other students is simple – enjoy the moment.

“While the programme can be very demanding at times, the education and the people you meet are worth every minute of it. I would also recommend being open minded about all opportunities that come your way especially if it means meeting new people. The contacts you make at AUT are priceless!”

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