Once a high school drop-out and mother at 17, Courtenay Hurt-Suwan now owns her own business and is considering pursuing a PhD in 2021.
Credit for part of that journey has been the support she received from SIT2LRN and facilitator Martin Mahler while studying towards her Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management.
Martin supervised Courtenay’s MGT310 dissertation – ‘’Social procurement to reduce precarious employment for Māori and Pasifika workers in the construction industry” – and the two worked together to get it published.
“It doesn’t happen often that an undergraduate’s research is of sufficient quality to make it worthwhile to spend the time to get it to a publishable standard,” Martin said.
In turn, Courtenay credits Martin with opening up her eyes to believing in her talents.
Born and bred in Mt Albert, Auckland, 32-year-old Courtenay’s whānau hail from Ngaiterangi in Tauranga Moana.
Mother to four children, aged 15, 13, 11 and five, her background has been in HR management in the construction labour hire industry, working predominantly with Māori and Pasifika who live very precarious lives.
Courtenay studied a Bachelor of Business (Management and Information Systems) with another polytechnic, beginning with a Diploma in Business (Level 6).
She found SIT2LRN options online after leaving a role she’d held for almost seven years and starting a business – Social Labour Supply (SLS) – in 2018 to support Māori and Pasifika into long-term, sustainable employment.
“As the business was starting out, I had time to upskill myself for the future requirements of the business, so I started the Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management.”
A self-confessed introvert, Courtenay said she loved the online learning offered by SIT2LRN, and urges anyone contemplating online study to just give it a go.
“Never look back and wonder what if!
“ A highlight was meeting Martin. He opened my eyes up to believing in my talents and pursuing research, which is something I’ve never considered until I met him.”
The health and safety qualification has proved very relevant to her business.
“The industry we work in is very dangerous. I use the learnings from the qualification to innovate and identify new ways to engage our most vulnerable workers in health and safety.”
Courtenay is now halfway through an MBA with Massey University, where she is the class representative for her cohort.
Future plans are to grow the business to have three main functions of employment, social and education to support sustainable pathways for Māori and Pasifika in the construction and infrastructure industry.
“I am considering a PhD in 2021 but for now I am enjoying working with Martin to produce more research in the area of social procurement and reducing precarious employment for Māori and Pasifika in the construction industry.”