An unexpected path

This article originally appeared on Victoria University of Wellington's website. To view the full article click here 

Victoria University of Wellington alumna Heather Phillips founded two digital media companies within five years of graduating—and says her biotechnology degree was an essential factor in her success.

Heather, who runs Phillips & Phillips and The Social Media Academy NZ, was introduced to digital media and communications in her final year of studying towards a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biotechnology.

As part of a programme run by Victoria’s commercialisation arm Viclink, she was partnered with a developing business and tasked with helping to take it one step further by building its digital profile.

“I built a new website, redesigned their e-newsletter, ran events and I got them up and running on social media. I discovered I really liked this type of work.

“It was what I needed on my CV to get my first job in public relations and communications, so it kind of kicked me off into the world outside university.

“To this day I think biotechnology has nothing to do with what I’m doing now, but it’s totally the reason why I’m here.”

She says current students should take advantage of all the opportunities on offer at university, because they could lead somewhere unexpected.

“For those thinking, that’s got nothing to do with my degree, or that’s not what I wanted to study, or that’s not what I want to do—just run with it.

“You’re developing essential skills for the workforce—working to a timeline and a brief, thinking outside the box and impressing the client.

Heather, who launched her first business in 2016, says the desire to work for herself has always been a motivating factor.

“It obviously comes with its challenges—instead of one boss I now have 13 or 14, or however many clients I have.

“Digital media management is a 24/7 job. You need to be ‘on’ all the time.”

Her aim now is to expand her businesses and grow her team. “I want to build a self-sustaining business and spend more time working on its growth and culture.

“An ultimate win for me is to have an office space where I can take my Labrador Jeff to work each day.”