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Heartland is a New Zealand bank with roots stretching back to 1875 and a proud history of serving communities through respected names such as CBS Canterbury, Southern Cross Building Society, PGG Wrightson Finance and MARAC.
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Real-life learning on the job

Heartland Bank head office recently opened its doors to nine students from the InZone Education Foundation, which aims to improve educational outcomes for Māori students.

Organised through a partnership between the Foundation and Heartland Trust, the programme is based on the Māori concept of ako, which describes a relationship of reciprocal learning between teacher and student.

To reflect the traditional whanau support network that plays an important role in Māori education, each student was assigned a ‘buddy’ to mentor them during the placement. Adrianne Mendes-Underwood, who is studying maths and chemistry, had no idea how she would be able to contribute.

However, it didn’t take long for her ‘buddy’, Heartland Bank data scientist Sho Pogoni, to demonstrate how applicable her skills were. “It was obvious that Adrianne was a problem solver and naturally computational, so I got her involved in business intelligence, creating reports using analytic functions,” says Sho. “She really enjoyed it and was very capable. It was also a great learning experience for me in terms of management, as I needed to provide clear direction, feedback and manage her workflow.”

Communications student Payton Taplin says that a number of interns shared Adrianne’s apprehension over how their studies would translate in the workplace. “It was such a great opportunity to see how what we’re studying can be applied in a corporate environment,” says Payton. “We come from such a diverse range of studies and I think everyone was surprised and relieved to see how their study streams could be integrated into the working world – in more ways than they imagined.” For Payton, the link seemed more obvious than for some of the others and he settled well in his role with Heartland’s communications and marketing team.

What surprised him is how much he learned through the experience. “It was pretty cool to put some of the stuff I’d learned into practice, but my tasks quickly expanded beyond anything I’d been taught,” says Payton, who has stayed on as a part-time employee and enjoys working on Heartland’s internal newsletter. “I’ve been learning heaps – plus now I’m confident that my decision to study communications is a good one.”

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