Sophie Parker

Sophie Parker

Advisor, Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation
Master of Business in Sport Leadership and Management
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Management & Physical Activity and Nutrition

She has always had an interest in sport management, says sport and recreation alumna Sophie Parker who completed Sport New Zealand’s sought-after graduate programme at the end of 2020 and now works for Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation.

“The Sport New Zealand graduate programme is a paid two-year programme that helps develop future leaders within the play, active recreation and sport sector. Each year, Sport New Zealand takes on a couple of graduates who work across the organisation. I applied for this programme because it provided me with a unique opportunity to experience the New Zealand play, active recreation and sport sector with the support and guidance of sector leaders.”

Sophie had the chance to be involved in a number of key projects, including the implementation of the Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy, and working as part of Wellington City Council’s community partnerships team to design and deliver projects that encourage more Wellingtonians to get active.

She also experienced working in one of New Zealand’s most reputable national sport organisations, New Zealand Cricket. Here she worked with cricket associations across the country to deliver quality experiences.

“One of many highlights was working on the Cricket’s Back national campaign to celebrate the return of community cricket post COVID-19 and working alongside cricket legend Martin Snedden on New Zealand Cricket’s Women in Cricket Governance Project.”

At the moment, Sophie is based at Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation where she leads the HERA – Everyday Goddess® initiative, focusing on young women aged 10 to 18 years. In her role as advisor, Sophie works with individuals and organisations across the play, active recreation and sport sector to better engage and empower young women to be active for life, however they choose.

Advice for other students
Try and establish industry relationships while you’re studying, Sophie advises other students dreaming of a career in sport and recreation.

“AUT’s Bachelor of Sport and Recreation includes a year of workplace experience, giving you the opportunity to complete valuable experience in an industry organisation as part of your study. It’s important to create connections and network when you come to enter the workforce.

“As part of my Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, I completed workplace experience with Netball New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s leading national sport organisations. This gave me invaluable industry insights and was a great way to figure out future career options and make those all-important connections.”

The focus on student success is what she enjoyed most about her time at AUT, says Sophie.

“AUT feels like a community. You’re well-supported and feel part of something important. I believe AUT really wants the best for students. That’s what I liked the most about my studies – this sense of support and encouragement from both my peers and staff at AUT.”

Taking it further with postgraduate study
Don’t rule out postgraduate study, Sophie says.

“I would highly recommend AUT’s postgraduate sport and recreation programmes to other students. If you’re passionate about a topic, you’ll have everything you need to complete your degree. I learned and grew more than I could have ever imagined when completing my postgraduate studies.”

Sophie knows what she is talking about; after completing her Bachelor of Sport and Recreation she returned to AUT to complete a Master of Business in Sport Leadership and Management.

“After completing my Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, I wanted to further my critical and applied research skills and learn more about the business side of sport. I have a passion for governance, specifically looking at how organisations can have more diverse and inclusive boards.

“I completed my master’s research on women in sport governance, under the supervision of Gaye Bryham and Professor Lesley Ferkins. I focused on how national sport organisations can challenge institutional practices to create opportunities for women in sport governance and leadership and was fortunate to work with New Zealand Cricket to complete this research.”

Being involved in AUT’s Sport Governance Club during her postgraduate study also proved to be a valuable networking opportunity, and Sophie was recently offered a mentee position on the AUT Millennium Board.

*The Physical Activity and Nutrition major is now called Exercise Science and Nutrition.

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