Shadow a Leader

The Shadow a Leader programme invites New Zealand’s organisation leaders to provide an opportunity for an AUT business and law student and an Auckland secondary school student to ‘shadow’ them.

It's an innovative, industry-focused and educational initiative to support the development of future leaders of New Zealand.

Benefits of the Shadow a Leader programme

  • For organisation leaders: an opportunity to share stories and insights into their organisations
  • For students: an invaluable experience to spend a day in the professional world, exposing them to the skills and attributes to navigate a successful career in their chosen field

How it works

Teams of three

Each team consists of:

  • An organisation leader
  • An AUT Faculty of Business, Economics and Law student
  • A secondary school student

Organisation leaders are invited at the end of February to register their interest and select the day in the Shadow a Leader week that best suits their schedule. New organisations wanting to register are welcome to email the partnerships manager on

AUT students studying business and law are invited to apply for a placement, taking into consideration their GPA, their final year of study in either undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, participation or being in leadership roles in student clubs, and recommendations by academics.

For the secondary school students, each student is nominated by their teachers or career advisor for showcasing leadership capability in conjunction with academic ability. These may include those students managing successful Young Enterprise Scheme initiatives.

What happens on the day

Shadow a Leader is offered for one week only with organisations locking in only one day in this week that suits their flexible working environment and availability. The agenda for the day is arranged by the organisation leader and may include strategy meetings, sales meetings, site visits, factory tours, HR consultation, product manufacturing, board meetings and senior staff meetings.

The student teams are given full independence to navigate their way to the location, present themselves to the leader and connect with their ‘buddy’. All participating students will be advised of which day they're attending their ‘Shadow a Leader’ day, details of the location (building floor and address), meet up time, contact information and any special requirements.


Feedback from participants

Between 26 June and 30 June 2023, student teams joined various organisations across Auckland for a one-day experience. See feedback from some of the participants below.

AUT students

Viswanathan Kathiresan,
Masters in Business Management

What an incredible and enriching day it was! I had the privilege of spending time with various leaders, gaining invaluable insights into leadership and its essential skills. The standout moment was an awe-inspiring experience where we dismantled a massive printer machine, delving into its scientific intricacies. Thanks to AUT, this day was filled with excitement and learning

Joshua Mulligan,
Bachelor of Business

The sheer variety of business aspects i was given the opportunity to be involved in. Talking to the economists, data analysists, architectures, software engineers, strategy personnel, engineers and leaders really gave a great insight into what it is they do and how they go about it. An exciting opportunity for sure

Elsie Winiata,
Bachelor of Business

The highlight of my SAL experience with Microsoft was everything, but if I had to talk about a key takeaway from this experience, it would be the amazing staff, they went above and beyond for us and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. They all had great things to say which I found interesting as some didn't see themselves in tech, and some even found that they weren't the smartest in the company; but at Microsoft, you have the ability to always learn. Also, loved the incorporation of Te Ao Māori within the organisation; they had a whakatauki placed upon entrance, a Māori carving from the local iwi that oversees those that have passed on, and a Māori storytelling illustration that is connected to an Xbox

Leah Robinson,
Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

I am in my third year of a law degree and spending the day with a group of legal professional people who are dedicated to providing alternative procedures to resolve legal and civil disputes was a fantastic and rewarding experience.  During the day, Maxwell (High school future star leader) and I were introduced to management, who each shared their individual employment history giving a background of their careers showing many possible paths of a legal career.  A tour of the Centre and introduction to all staff who explained their roles and how they interacted with the public and government agencies.  I highly recommend this experience to all students, it has given me direction into how I can go forward once I have completed my degree, demonstrating the variety of career pathways as a lawyer and legal professional

Secondary school students

Ridwan Usman,
Pakuranga College

My highlight was to meet and conversate with many new people with different experiences.  I really loved the open-armed welcome to their organisation; it made me feel like I was a part of their company for a day learning the ropes

Jamie Hilliam,
Saint Kentigern College

I thoroughly enjoyed my whole 'Shadow a Leader' experience because of the significant learnings that I made throughout the day. My experiences at the Instillery provided me with an excellent taste of the business world, something that couldn't be taught in the classroom. In particular, my highlight was when I learnt about the marketing side of the Instillery from Marc and Spencer. I found the horizontal growth strategy and business to business marketing. This was particularly valuable since I had initially conceived marketing to involve spreading a message to a large audience via social media or print media

Krisha Bali,
Lynfield College

Meeting other students on a similar career path, engaging with them, and learning from the head of financial systems, data, and analytics was the highlight of my day during the "Shadow a Leader" programme. Connecting with like-minded people provided me with excellent networking and professional development opportunities, while learning from an experienced leader provided insights and enhance my understanding of the area. This networking and learning experience was enriching, allowing me to broaden my professional network and knowledge base

Yalda Hosseini,
Auckland Girls Grammar School

I really enjoyed having a better insight on what the day in the life of a commercial lawyer looks like as it is an area i am interested in studying at university. it was great to learn so much and gain new knowledge as a year 13 student considering this area as a career because it allowed me to have a better understanding of the career itself. Meeting the commercial lawyer at Auckland council really opened my eyes to amazing role they have in keeping Auckland running smooth and now i am much more confident to know what things i could be doing in the future in this career field

Emma Ah-Hing,
Kelston Girls’ College

My highlight was the leaders I had met, they were so friendly and really made me feel comfortable. They displayed their work ethic through their achievements and was always willing to be supportive even after the day. I have learnt may new skills in the workforce not just academically but also as a individual

Organisation leaders

Ian Hankins,
Forsyth Barr

Listening to them about their personal experiences and the questions they had too. It was great to provide a bit of advice as well and hopefully help in some way

Kriezl Grecia,
Chapman Tripp

It was a very rewarding experience to see how much knowledge our students gained on what like could be like working for a large corporate law firm. Many of them have said it has cemented their interest in pursuing law

Katrina Glenday,
Fisher & Paykel Appliances

Engaging with the students, hearing what they are studying and what they want to do for future careers. Also seeing my day and our business through their eyes, a different perspective on things!

Peter Lensink,
Transdev New Zealand

Seeing the students grow in confidence during the day and receiving feedback that it has added value to their development journey

Contact us

For more information on how to get involved, contact:

Nirisha Niranjan
Partnerships Manager
Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 5809
Mobile: +64 21 07 00 901

Melanie Barr
Director Student, Business and Community Partnerships
Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 9336

Download our brochure

Shadow a leader brochure cover

Our brochure has more great information about Shadow a Leader and what to expect from the programme.


Alisa Innes
Tessa Williams
Nina Pinkerton-Bennett
William Austin
James Tapp