Māori scholar following in Mel Smith's footsteps

Reilly Polaschek is heading to Sydney in August to work for the same company at which mentor and sponsor Mel Smith worked for many years.

Reilly Polaschek.
Reilly Polaschek. Photo: Nigel King, White Door Event Photography

Reilly Polaschek says Melanie (Mel) Smith, who funds the Mokaraka Māori Women in Business Scholarship, is "an incredible lady". 

And in August, Reilly (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Rangiwewehi) will follow a similar path to Mel, who is now the CEO of Ocado Retail in the UK. Reilly will begin a new job with McKinsey & Company in Sydney, which is where Mel started out her career. 

Reilly completes her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws (honours) conjoint degree in Semester One 2022, and last year was assisted in her studies by being awarded the scholarship, which she says was a massive help. 

“It allowed me to cut down on hours at my part-time jobs over the past 12 months of my degree. That’s meant I’ve been able to pour more energy into my academic commitments and extra-curriculars. I’m so grateful for Melanie’s support.”

Mel Smith reminded me of the importance of leading by example, mentoring and bringing others up with you.

Reilly Polaschek, Mokaraka Māori Women in Business Scholar 2021 Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws (honours) student

She says Mel has given her useful guidance to ensure she makes a meaningful contribution to the Māori community.

“She reminded me of the importance of leading by example, mentoring and bringing others up with you.”

In the past year, Reilly has been working as a graduation teaching assistant and professional teaching fellow at the Law School. She has also worked for Genesis Energy’s social media team and for McKinsey & Company as a business analyst intern, and was co-president of Women in Law for 2021. The latter has led to her role across the Tasman.

"I’m really excited to be moving to Sydney."