Tuan Derwyn Hamidon

Tuan Derwyn Hamidon

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

He has always been fascinated by numbers and the economics of everything happening around him, says Tuan Derwyn Hamidon (Derwyn) who came to AUT as an international student from Sri Lanka to study a PhD in finance, supported by an AUT Doctoral Scholarship.

“My bachelor’s degree specialised in finance as I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in finance. In my master’s degree, I also chose finance specialisation courses to further my knowledge, so it was almost a no-brainer to select a finance pathway for my doctoral degree.”

For his PhD research, he is investigating how financial innovation (FinTech) can supplement financial inclusion to attain sustainable economic development. His research is being supervised by Professor Aaron Gilbert and Dr Ayesha Scott from the AUT Business School.

“As someone interested in finance and economics, I wanted to research how digital technologies in finance improve the availability, access, usage and affordability of finance and, in turn, help the citizens of a country enjoy a better socioeconomic life. I’m investigating how financial technologies can help nations – especially New Zealand, a developed country, and Sri Lanka, a developing country – sustain their economies with a strong emphasis on socio-economic development.”

Supported to thrive
Derwyn says he has enjoyed being in the company of other PhD students, his supervisors and other AUT staff.

“I was privileged to have been supported by Professor Aaron Gilbert and Dr Ayesha Scott even before I started my studies at AUT. After I joined AUT, Tracy, Yvonne and many other professional staff members helped me more than I could ever explain. Since starting my doctoral studies, I’ve also enjoyed learning from other PhD students, being around them and sharing what I know with them.

“The PhD programme offered by the AUT Business School is of the highest standard and recognition. There are ongoing workshops and seminars to help you with your studies. The library, the Student Hub and your faculty are all gems for resources and there’s always support when you need it, be it related to your study, finances, physical or mental wellbeing, or employment-related. The staff here at AUT are so friendly and accommodating. I understood from the start that I was in good hands.”

Relocating to Auckland for his PhD wasn’t always without obstacles, he admits.

“I came to New Zealand with my wife about a month before I started my PhD, and it was tough at the very beginning as neither of us had a job. It took some time to adjust to the Kiwi culture and new routines. So, initially, I couldn’t entirely focus on my studies. My supervisors were always there for me; guiding and supporting me, and helping me find a role as a teaching assistant in the Department of Finance. Some staff at AUT also helped my wife find a good job by restructuring her CV to suit New Zealand standards. This is an excellent example of how AUT goes beyond its responsibilities to support its students.”

Advice for other students
Expecting to complete his doctorate in 2026, Derwyn has some great advice for other students.

“I’m sure you enjoyed your school days, and I’m confident that you will enjoy university life even more. The university is not another school, so please be prepared to do self-directed study and work more independently. Don’t forget that at university you also need to proactively engage in the classroom and other activities and, most importantly, interact with your classmates, lecturers, tutors, professional staff or others.”

Never give up, no matter what, he adds.

“Even if you have hit rock bottom, think about your future, your parents and everyone who has played an essential role in your life. You pay back those debts by standing strong during any failure and by delivering your absolute best. Remember that university study is a marathon, not a sprint. That is especially true for a PhD, although almost the same could be said about bachelor’s and master’s degrees as university-level studies require a lot of patience and persistence.”