Getting more New Zealanders into important rooms around the world
6 September 2019
Business leader and advocate Phil O'Reilly has funded a $5,000 annual scholarship to grow global public policy knowledge in young New Zealanders.
The Jean O'Reilly Memorial Masters Scholarship was offered for the first time this year to masters students studying public policy, global relationships, and organisations such as the OECD, the UN or the World Bank – particularly when New Zealand influences, and is influenced, by global public policy.
Phil says that "in the things that I do globally – at the OECD, the International Labour Organization, the B20 and elsewhere – I'm often the only New Zealander in the room, and I thought we must be able to build capabilities so that more people can understand these big geopolitical issues and engage in them to New Zealand’s benefit."
He is impressed by the cross-faculty work that the University of Auckland is doing in public policy and wants to incentivise and encourage more of a conversation amongst promising students about the opportunities of understanding public policy and focusing on good public policy outcomes for New Zealand.
I couldn't do what I do now globally without some of that validation and confidence building.
Phil describes the inaugural recipient of the scholarship, Kieran Tahir Wilding, as "an extraordinary young guy".
"I was so pleased that the Faculty of Arts had taken it so seriously and that the quality of the person that came forward was so strong."
Kieran has been using the scholarship to investigate how recent political, economic and technological changes have altered the dynamics of global capital and international tax policy.
"I have been outlining the impact such changes will have on New Zealand’s economy in the future and am working towards the development of viable policy recommendations in this area."
He says that receiving this scholarship made him feel like a valued member of the University of Auckland community, and gave him greater confidence in his position at the University. After he graduates, he plans to apply for jobs in the Treasury and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in think-tanks engaged in international political and economic research.
Small business people who want to contribute back can actually do this, and I think it's a great way of contributing. It was $5,000 to start, and it worked really well for me. It doesn’t need to break the bank.
The scholarship is named after Phil's mother. He was the first person in his immediate family to go to university and she was one of the big influences on him making that choice. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and History and Master of Arts in History at the University of Auckland.
"She didn't go to university, but she instilled in me a love of reading – particularly a love of history. I asked her what I should study at university, and she said 'why don't you do what you love?' I loved English and History (and I still do) so that's what I studied. I've carried that with me through my life. So now when young people say to me 'I’m wanting to go to university, what should I study?' I give them the same advice she gave me."
Phil says that he wouldn't be where he is without receiving awards and opportunities at a young age.
"Receiving an award or recognition at a young age builds confidence in taking the next step. There are not many more scary things from a public policy perspective than getting on a plane, flying long-haul, turning up in a room where you represent a tiny little country that's not particularly relevant to anybody, and attempting to make a difference. And I've done it. There's no question that the confidence that I got from studying at the University of Auckland – including recognition and formal validation – was critical for me. I couldn't do what I do now globally without some of that validation and confidence building."
Phil was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it was to establish a scholarship and encourages other business people to consider it.
"Lots and lots of people can do this, it doesn't have to be big foundations or multinational companies or charities. Small business people who want to contribute back can actually do this, and I think it's a great way of contributing. It was $5,000 to start, and it worked really well for me. It doesn’t need to break the bank."
Anne Liddle | Development Manager
Phone: +64 9 923 2309