Five out of five

12 June 2013
From left: Graeme Fielder (CEO of LabPlus), Mark Finch (SIE 2010), Jenny Xu (IGNITE 2013), Alexei Dunayev (CEO TranscribeMe), Logan Wait (CEO ecoPortal), Chris Christian Hirsch (founder of Mohio Ltd) and Geoff Whitcher (Director, CIE)

Five out of five…that’s the record that the Business School-based entrepreneurial challenge Spark is celebrating, as the fifth of its graduates is accepted onto a specialised international Stanford University programme in as many years.

Student Jenny Xu will wing her way to San Francisco in the United States for a month later this year on an MBIE Scholarship to the Ignite programme, which is specially designed to teach top postgraduate students how to formulate, develop and commercialise ideas. Jenny will follow in the footsteps of colleagues Christian Hirsch, Mark Finch, Logan Wait and Graeme Fielder.

Co-director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning Geoff Whitcher says five out of five is a triumph for the Business School, and adds clout to the school’s standing, especially when it’s taken into account that several other graduates are also studying for other qualifications at the prestigious school. These include Graeme Fielder who, in late August, will again be heading back to Stanford to start his MBA.

“We are building quite a clique of Sparkies up in San Francisco and Silicon Valley,” Geoff says. “All have or are performing with credit, and I am hopeful our record of sending only very high quality people will provide opportunities for future Sparkies to go as well.”

In a special message to the five, former Sparkie Bowen Pan – who last year won a place in the MBA programme at Stanford alongside NASA space scientists, high street fashion entrepreneurs, Navy Special Forces, senior movie executives and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – said SPARK was having an out-sized impact on the future of New Zealand.

“Spark was the most personally transformative experience during my time at Auckland.”

Bowen was one of only 17 students in the Stanford MBA class who was featured in a Business Insider Australia article last month. Bowen caught the entrepreneurial bug while doing a conjoint BE/BCom degree and got heavily involved in Spark. There is no doubt he is showing that our Kiwis can compete in some of the toughest environments in the world.

Read the article on Business Insider Australia's website.