Michael James Kirkwood

Michael James Kirkwood

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Business with First Class Honours
Bachelor of Business (Honours) with First Class Honours
Bachelor of Business in Design and Marketing

Ngā Tai, Tainui, Cook Island Māori

He has come a long way since his early days at university, says Michael James Kirkwood who is currently completing a PhD in marketing.

“When I started at university, I honestly had no clue which pathway I should choose and was quite anxious. I had applied for business, communications and arts, and business was the first to accept my application. At AUT, I learned to open myself up to new people, and discovered talents I never knew I had.

“Throughout my studies, I received the award for the top student in both my Bachelor of Business majors, received the postgraduate academic excellence award twice, was the top Māori graduate in the Master of Business in 2016 and received a Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship to support my doctoral studies.”

Exploring the digital social world
For his PhD research, Michael is investigating the impact of social media.

“I’m interested in the digital social world and the impact it has, not only on business but on society in general. My research to date has been within this context and applied to social causes like alcohol and drug addiction, sports and spectator fan-ship in mixed martial arts.

“Currently I’m exploring the influence of social media influencers – YouTubers, Instagrammers and vloggers. I see the digital space as the new media channel that mediates the lives of modern day consumers. I find this interesting, especially given the distance between what is real and what is seemingly real in digital space.”

Michael’s PhD thesis is supervised by Dr Crystal Yap and Associate Professor Mark Glynn.

Advice for other students
Studying gives you the skills needed for today’s competitive job market, Michael says.

“I hear many people say they would like to study but the financial struggle stops them. Yes, it’s hard, but living a life of regret is much harder in my opinion. University study opens up options for higher paying jobs, and it sets an example for your children, community members and others.

“I would definitely recommend university study to others who seek to better their current situation, especially Māori and Pacific students, and adult learners.”

Approach study like you would a job or a hobby, Michael advises other students.

“Don’t get caught up in the mentality of ‘Cs get degrees’. The university experience isn’t about the qualification you’ll end up with; it’s more about the knowledge and expertise you gain. Give your study the respect it deserves, and it will repay you a lifetime over.”