Rather than sitting on the couch clocking up Netflix hours, Levi Chand has used the COVID-19 pandemic to refocus his career path.
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Management majoring in Human Resource Management from Toi Ohomai, Levi has been contracting to a business solutions firm helping indigenous organisations reach their goals.
But Levi says the pandemic and lockdown has given him time to clarify priorities, and he wants to shift his focus to secure a management role in the public sector.
“People will say I’m crazy, but I’m hungry for it. I’m guided by the wise words of Professor Te Wharehuia Milroy, who said: ‘Tūwhitia te hopo’. It means to feel the fear, just do it anyway! This is the quote that I live by now.”
Levi believes the move will be challenging because “it isn’t always easy being Māori and walking the corporate corridors”.
“I know with this type of power comes great responsibility but I want this to be my success as a change leader. I also need to be sitting at the table with the big guns if I’m going to achieve my goal. A wise man once said: ‘Do you want to sit at the table or be the server?’ It’s a little harsh but it resonates with me as a young Māori.
“And it helps to know that I’m not alone in this journey – my whānau, iwi, hapu are all with me. That makes me more determined to break barriers.”
Levi’s pride in being Māori fuels his desire to help his people.
He says being raised among his whānau has provided him with strong foundations and experiences, like being able to perform for Te Kapa Haka o Ngāti Whakaue. Taking part in the event gave him confidence to tackle the business world.
“My whakapapa, my heritage, plays a significant role in my life. Let’s be real, without them, we wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful that my ancestors were with me through the highs and lows, peaks and troughs.
“Knowing they had my back through the tears and triumphs made it a little easier. Whakapapa is all about identity. A line of descent, connecting us to all living things. It’s this understanding that drives me to succeed in my own goals, because I know I’m helping to make a better place for my people, my whenua and those generations to come, just like my ancestors did.”
He says studying at Toi Ohomai has helped him work towards this target by giving him necessary skills and experience.
Before enrolling at the Institute, Levi worked in the national accounts team at an international food service provider. He says he knew if he wanted to grow and help people, he needed a qualification.
While attending Toi Ohomai he worked three days a week the first two years. In his final year, he was selected to be part of an internship programme at Rotorua Lakes Council in the Organisational Development team.
When he finished the internship, Levi concentrated on his course work, which helped hone his skill set.
“It was the best decision I made. I wasn’t getting A+’s all the way through, but it was close and it meant I could really focus. It also inspired me to look at further study and one day I would like to return to do my master’s.”