Studying at UCOL allowed Aaron (Aarona) McGregor to rediscover his passion for accounting and now he’s running his own practice.
Aaron (Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, and many other affiliations) came to UCOL Whanganui after years of working in middle management roles. He had loved accounting as a youngster and wanted to add those skills to his repertoire, so he enrolled in the New Zealand Diploma in Business (Management and Accounting pathways).
“I needed to update my skills. I had come to a stage in my career where I needed to get a qualification to back up my experience. Living in Whanganui, my options were to study extramurally or study at UCOL. So after 23 years in the industry I decided to go back to school fulltime.”
Aaron says the strong rapport he built with his lecturers and the Student Success team helped him achieve his goals.
“I had strong support from the Business team. They understood the career path I was on and worked closely with me to plan how I could achieve it. I also built a great relationship with the Student Success services. I have the utmost respect for all of the crew at UCOL. They work really hard and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Aaron excelled in his studies, maintaining an A+ average. In 2018 he was awarded several scholarships including the Ngā Raumanako Māori Scholarship from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa (National Māori Accountants Network). This scholarship is awarded nationally to Māori accounting students to help reach their career aspirations and contribute to Māori economic and financial well-being.
After completing his diploma, Aaron studied a Bachelor of Business Studies through Open Polytechnic, double majoring in Accounting and Business Management. Now he’s operating his own accounting practice in Whanganui and is busier than he’s ever been.
“The name of my business, Awhi Nuku Awhi Rangi is an old reference to knowing how each person plays a part in looking after one another especially the environment; Papatuanuku, the earth and Ranginui, the sky – and that’s really important to me.”
Aaron says UCOL not only gave him technical skills but also taught him how to build strong connections with people.
“The relationship-building skills I learnt at UCOL have meant that that I can relate to a lot of different people in different jobs and help them achieve their goals.”
“Working with people is definitely the best part of my job. Accounting is not just numbers. It’s getting out there and seeing what businesses do, and helping them find solutions and putting smiles on people’s faces. Trying to get clients to a place where they want to be has always been my focus.”
Going forward, Aaron wants to help elevate the Māori accounting community.
“When I received my scholarship, I gave a speech where I talked about the Big Four accounting firms - Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers – and said, ‘Why can’t there be a Big Five?’, being a bit naïve about the global reach of these international firms. Being a Māori accountant, maybe we could be a part of a Big Five. Let’s think bigger than what we’re doing now, influence that space, and always be striving to be better.”