Operations Manager, Weta Workshop Unleashed
Bachelor of International Tourism Management
He is constantly blown away by all of the creative projects that Weta is famous for and involved in, says tourism alumnus Sam Holdich who is now the operations manager for Weta Workshop Unleashed.
“Weta Workshop Unleashed, which opened in Auckland in December 2020, is a true reflection of all of Weta’s fantastical ideas put into what is a world-class attraction. I’ve loved transitioning into a different sector of the tourism industry. It’s so great to be able to learn new skills, and work with what is a very impressive and professional team.”
Before joining Weta in mid-2021, Sam held a number of positions in the theme park industry, including working for Bungy Japan, the Melbourne Star observation wheel, wildlife park Gumbuya World and, most recently, as the general manager of operations at Funfields Theme Park in Melbourne.
“One of the main drivers for me to get into the tourism industry was my love for being outdoors. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to develop and execute exciting projects that include world record-breaking waterslides, themed wave pools, new bungy jump sites and various other attractions. No two days have been the same, and the people make the tourism industry a great place to work without a doubt.”
A passion for tourism
For Sam, the first step towards his career in adventure tourism was enrolling in AUT’s Bachelor of International Tourism Management; a qualification he completed in 2010.
“I had a passion for travel and tourism since a young age. I knew that I wanted to learn more about the industry and have the ability to travel and work at the same time. I had also studied tourism and geography at school, which provided an excellent foundation for studying tourism at university and starting a career within the tourism industry. I started studying at AUT in 2007, and the tourism degree had just been redeveloped and it was inspiring to be part of one of the first groups in this new programme.”
He still fondly remembers his time at university.
“The environment, the facilities and, most importantly, the professionalism and experience of the lecturers was the highlight for me. I was lucky to have some great lecturers who were always willing to chat about the future and potential career opportunities. Each lecturer had their own unique background, from accomplished tourism authors and research scholars to real-life tourism operators who could articulate what to expect when we step out ‘on our own’ after our studies.”
Advice for other students
Having now worked in the tourism industry for more than a decade, Sam has some great advice for other students.
“One of the most significant pieces of advice I can give future students is to work within the tourism industry while you’re studying. It helps to provide you with perspective and relate directly to the concepts and theories you’re learning during your studies. For me, I was passionate about adventure tourism, and worked at AJ Hackett Bungy and Bridge Climb in Auckland throughout my studies.”
Absorb as much as you possibly can while you’re at AUT, he adds.
“Your studies set the foundation for your future career, and I’ve used many of the skills I gained throughout my time at university.”