NZIEC 2017: Some reflections on a whirlwind trip to Auckland.

On the flight back to Australia, I got the opportunity to reflect a little on the New Zealand International Education Conference I had just attended in Auckland. Overall, a fun, though slightly tiring, slog across the Tasman. I got to meet a heap of new people in and around the conference and was lucky enough to be involved in two sessions.

On Tuesday, I spent 30 minutes talking to delegates about how to build the analytical mindset during my session called Getting started in the Data Game. Mostly, I was emphasising the base skills needed in analytics and how to apply a problem solving methodology to approaching strategic problems in international education.

As I was saying in the session, the Big Data age isn’t necessarily about hording large amounts of information, it’s more about using the large amount of information out there to generate valuable insight. It’s about turning the intuitive into the analytical. Thanks to those who stayed around at the end and asked questions and also those who took the time to come up and say after how much the enjoyed the talk.

If you want to know about my take on big data, analytics and international education, my article that I published in IEAA’s Vista magazine early in 2017 is still highly relevant. You can read the full document by clicking on the link before.

On the Wednesday I was roped into participating in The Great Debate, pitching Australians versus New Zealanders against each other and discussing the topic whether New Zealand should look to Australia in terms of international education. I was fortunate enough to be teamed up with two excellent and knowledgeable Victorians, Stephen Connelly from Global Ed Services and Amanda Pickrell from the Department of Economic Development in Victoria.Note to self, I think the timing of the conference dinner was tactical to prevent me being at my best (though, not that it would have really mattered).

Comparing NZ to AUS inventions for the Great Debate!
The Royal Family kept us entertained at the NZIEC conference dinner.
Team NZ during the Great Debate.

Our opposition, Roger McElwain, Tony O’Brien and Katy Mandeno from New Zealand took us on, and debated in great spirits, despite some not so gentle ribbing of our respective nations on each side of the pitch. Generally a undercurrent of mutual respect was evident, and I think those who were there to witness it would have got something out of it. Cheers also to the superb moderation skills of Mariama Kamo.

Overall, I have to say it seemed an excellently run event and would not hesitate to recommend future iterations (New Zealanders have mastered the art of producing edible conference food!).

I really wish I’d had the opportunity to see a bit more of Auckland, but with the amount of pressing work to be completed for both my sessions, it limited me to working alone in my hotel suite for most of the days I attended.

Thanks go out to Sam Mackey at the New Zealand Government and also Bridget Harris of Verve Consulting for helping me get over there.