Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

Bachelor of Business in Marketing
Diploma in Advertising

Now the Chief Executive Officer of, AUT business alumna Sarah Wood has long been fascinated by business and strategy.

“As a child, I very much enjoyed the strategy and thrill of board games, which is what I love about the business world today.”

As someone who loves learning, throughout her career Sarah has taken on numerous roles of interest, including high-profile marketing and brand management roles for Goodman Fielder, APN News and Media, and Bailey Brand Consulting in the US. Before the successful appointment as CEO for in early 2019, she applied her expertise in digital as a General Manager in digital ventures at NZME.

“I’ve worked my way through marketing, operations and into my current CEO role. One of my favourite roles was working as a brand director in the US. We reworked a well-known US brand and then drove the adoption of it globally. We had an elite team working together and time for strategy and creative thinking was built into our day. The results were impressive.”

Inspiring experiences
When Sarah first started university in the late 1990s, she dreamt of working in the media industry and enrolled in AUT’s Diploma in Advertising, soon followed by a Bachelor of Business.

“I wanted to work in the media industry as I was interested in the process from creative idea through to execution. AUT was the only place at the time offering a specialised course. I loved the classroom style, the great conversations and working in collaborative groups. The guest lecturers with their real-life examples were also very inspiring.”

Her advertising lecturer made a particular impression on Sarah.

“There was a brilliant lecturer who taught the International Advertising course. He wanted us to understand different cultures from their perspective. I still remember him taking the class on a field trip to a local synagogue, introducing us to the rabbi and getting a lesson from a Jewish person’s perspective. I was in awe of the experience, and the new understanding of history and the downstream impact on culture. I’ve never forgotten that lesson and it has come into use throughout my career when I’m thinking about the receiving audience of a marketing campaign.”

Creating great graduates
Getting workplace experience as part of their degree sets AUT graduates apart from those of other universities, Sarah says.

“For me, it’s definitely the practical workplace experience that stands out. When I was a business student, my employment place for my final-year workplace experience was the New Zealand Herald, and I went on to have a full-time role and a strong career with that organisation.”

While it has been 20 years since she graduated from AUT, Sarah says she still frequently draws on the skills she developed throughout her studies.

“The group I went through AUT with at the time were great thinkers, networkers, collaborators and problem solvers. The skills we learned around finding opportunities is still a skillset I use to this day.”