From Bachelor of Commerce alumna to representing New Zealand on the world stage, Shisla reflects on how her experiences – both virtual and physical – have changed her life.
Shisla Macleod completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Economics and International Business. As an alumna representing New Zealand globally on the APEC Voices of the Future 2021 Forum, Shisla looks back on how her global experiences through 360 International have contributed to her growth and role as a graduate analyst in Customs.
Shisla first learned about 360 International programmes by chance when her professor encouraged students in class to apply for a Summer School exchange in Mexico, for which successful applicants would also be awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America (PMSLA).
“This sounded like a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge on Latin America, meet people with similar passions and enhance my career prospects. As the application went through the 360 International website, I saw all these other wonderful programmes advertised – which basically opened up a whole new world for me. I’d go on the website at least once a week, and almost guaranteed a new and exciting opportunity would be advertised. They’re really good programmes that allowed me to explore different parts of the world, develop my hard and soft skills, enhance my CV, make valuable connections and have fun.”
The iWinter Global Business programme would be the first of many experiences Shisla would have with global learning and she says it exceeded her expectations.
“The programme was ideally designed, with a balance of academic learning, connecting with others and cultural immersion. One of the best things was the company visits. We visited a number of companies, from small to multinationals, and talked to key people in each about their businesses. Each visit was matched with a specific topic we were learning, so we could bridge our theory with reality.
"Another highlight was travelling around Mexico, staying on four different campuses during the four weeks. This was a great opportunity to learn about different parts of Mexico and how different they may be, which reflects an important lesson about different countries – that is not to generalise.”
Having moved to New Zealand at age 13, Shisla talks about how the programme in Mexico breathed new life into her.
“Spending a month with different people of different backgrounds who all got along so well, I realised that fitting in is not important at all. The beauty of the world is that everyone is different, and that should be embraced. The programme also made me realise how much I had to look forward to in both my academic and professional life, and just the number and quality of opportunities waiting to be seized. It motivated me to do all the other things I have done and paved the way for me to become who I am now.”
Having taken part in the iWinter programme in Mexico, followed by four more virtual programmes with 360 International in 2020, we asked Shisla to compare these experiences, each offered through different institutions from around the world.
“Through the Global Leadership Challenge (University of Oregon) I learned how to effectively collaborate with a team to solve a complex issue. I learned how to turn the challenge of having people with different backgrounds and perspectives (and even time zones!) into an opportunity to foster similarities and embrace differences to get the best outcome.
"Through the Universidade de Minas Gerais course, I learned a lot about Brazil, including foreign relations, geography and history. Though I grew up there, the programme was at a university level and times are different. Through this lens, I was able to compare New Zealand and Brazil, and understand how certain aspects affect society. For example, how Brazil’s colonisation history and early democracy affects its political progress. As well as making connection sin Brazil, I connected with many people around the world, whom I still keep in touch with today.
"Through the ISEP Service Learning programme, I learned about the Spanish way of doing business, as well as some of the social issues faced in Spain and Europe by migrants. These affect all parts of society, and I observed the ingenuity, motivation and compassion that goes into running a social enterprise.
"Through the U21 Global Citizenship programme, I discovered how the challenges the world faces, such as climate change, cannot be solved with a single solution. Due to the complexity of these issues and how they affect nations, societies and individuals differently, a range of solutions need to be implemented. For these solutions to be successful, we must get everyone on board.”
Shisla encourages students who are hesitant about taking up a virtual programme and says these opportunities are absolutely worth doing.
“None of us are travelling internationally right now, so virtual programmes are the perfect opportunity to develop your international engagement, experience something new and connect with people overseas who have similar passions and aspirations as yourself.”
Shisla acknowledges that virtual programmes are not a replacement for in-person experiences, and that many of opportunities that you get in person are not available virtually. However, she also emphasises there are many skills that you learn through virtual programmes that are not available in-person. Additionally, virtual programmes increase the accessibility of education for all.
My global learning experiences have made me more culturally competent and adaptable, and have deeply enhanced my critical thinking skills.
When considering how these experiences have had an impact on Shisla’s career, she shares:
“My global learning experiences have made me more culturally competent and adaptable, and have deeply enhanced my critical thinking skills. I find it easier to relate to and communicate with people in the community and in the office, and by getting an insight into so many different ways of thinking, I have been able to adapt these lenses into my work. That means I can solve challenges in ways I would not have been able to before.”
With the recent conclusion of the APEC Voices of the Future 2021 Forum, Shisla attributes the global opportunities in which she took part in as allowing her to develop many of the capabilities needed to represent New Zealand on the global stage.
“Simply put, without 360 International’s support I probably would not have been at APEC. These experiences have been key to developing my competence and confidence and vitalising my passion of creating positive change on a global scale.”
You can read more about Shisla as part of the youth delegates on APEC Voices of the Future 2021.