Sharyn McLeod realised her lifetime dream to become qualified when she graduated with her New Zealand Diploma in Business in March 2021.
Sharyn left school at fifteen with no qualifications, but the offer of a job in the office at George Court and Sons in Auckland. From that point on, Sharyn admits that every career move she has ever made was to learn and 'better herself'.
"In every job I learned hands on and through my colleagues," she says. Later, working at an Accountant's firm, she realised she wanted an accountancy qualification. "I was in awe of them."
In 2012, Sharyn and her husband decided to move from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty to retire, where Sharyn began developing an interest in social services. "I had a hankering to help my people," she says. Never one to hold back on her goals, Sharyn gained a NZ Certificate Te Pou Tautoko i te ora Biculturalism (Level 4) from Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
In 2016 the couple relocated to Taumarunui, finding an affordable home and a welcoming community.
It was in Taumarunui that all of Sharyn's skills came together. She became a Whanau Ora Navigator at a local Community Services Trust, while still doing contract work for a Chartered Accountant's office in town.
"I soon identified a need in the community to help local Māori Trusts become compliant and advise in financial matters," she says. So, Sharyn's business venture, Atui Consulting Ltd was born. Sharyn's client list soon reached double figures when word of her financial skills got around.
It was during a job interview that she met a past UCOL staff member, who suggested she should investigate UCOL's Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) service. Through this, her knowledge and skills could be assessed to potentially award her credit towards a qualification.
Sharyn soon learned that her fifty-plus years of working, and her vast experience and knowledge, could finally earn her that elusive qualification, a New Zealand Diploma in Business.
Throughout the APL process Sharyn proved that her knowledge and skills met the qualification requirements and therefore could be credited towards her Diploma.
Sharyn acknowledges UCOL's APL Manager Shane Tawharu for his positive encouragement during the year. "He was amazing. He gave me so much support and direction, and made me feel I was really achieving something," says Sharyn.
Atui Consulting Limited is in expansion mode, having worked with Te Puni Kokiri and Maori Women's Development Inc. Sharyn's son Justin is now the Managing Director, while Sharyn remains a Director.
Sharyn has also trained to be a Restorative Justice Facilitator, and is now facilitating such hui in Taumaranui, King Country, and Hamilton.
"I'm traveling a fair bit but I enjoy the mahi. I still care for my few accounting clients in Taumarunui and will continue doing this. Justin will be the Business/Marketing Consultant and comes with a wealth of experience overseas, working with Korean Chamber of Commerce and contracting to Samsung and other large groups. Life is busy, but good."
Sharyn has one more life-long dream, to become fluent in Te Reo Māori. "I've always been too busy, but I feel it would endorse what I do and enhance my mana."
You can be assured that Sharyn will keep making her dreams reality.