Sector group advisor

Gayathiri Ganeshan completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and now works as an advisor in Sector Group at the Ministry of Justice.

Key facts

Career: Sector Group advisor
Programme: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Subjects: Criminology, Politics and International Relations

"I work as an advisor in Sector Group at the Ministry of Justice. We work across the justice sector, which comprises the Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections, NZ Police, Crown Law and the Serious Fraud Office. In my role within the Sector Strategy team, we advise justice sector leadership to help the sector work together and achieve its common goals.

"Part of my job involves running the justice sector’s 'governance mechanisms' — a fancy term describing meetings of justice sector agency heads and ministers. This includes being privy to their discussions, which provide an excellent view of how justice sector agencies work together. The inner workings of government used to seem opaque from outside the public sector, but my job has given me tremendous insight into how the justice sector operates.

"I chose to study Criminology due to an interest in the way society creates groups of 'outsiders' such as criminals, refugees and asylum seekers, and those generally in trouble with authorities. Applying to work at the Ministry of Justice was a natural next step after finishing my honours study, due to its central role in our criminal justice system.

"Criminology provided an excellent complement to my legal study and experience: while knowing how the law operates on an instrumental level was useful, studying Criminology helped me understand the socio-political constructs evident in and created by our criminal justice system.

"On one level, studying Criminology meant I was very familiar with the nature and operation of justice systems. But it's the other skills I picked up along the way that help me in my work. An example is the ability to digest large amounts of information to synthesise a coherent opinion. Another is the ability to communicate clearly, which I gained through writing essays, tutoring and delivering presentations. But the most relevant skill I gained from studying Criminology is definitely the ability to think critically about the world around me.

"It’s not easy being a student — let alone a postgraduate student. At one point during my honours year, I was working three part-time jobs and studying for admission to the bar on top of my regular coursework. Criminology classes were my respite during the year. Each was a three-hour block of time in which we had fascinating conversations. Going to class never felt like a burden.

"Studying Arts is one of the kindest decisions you can make for yourself. It opens your eyes to new layers of meaning and nuance in the world. You won't regret any of the things you learn while studying Arts because it gives you a toolbox for understanding human experience."