Rob Pidgeon. Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrakei.

Bachelor of Business (Sport Business Management)

Rob Pidgeon has proven his English teacher wrong.

Eight years ago she told him he would never amount to anything. Now he’s a successful businessman who is determined to make his mark on the organisation he’s been part of since he was 14 – Surf Life Saving New Zealand.

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do once he left school so, when the time came, he opted to work at Piha as a full-time lifeguard for the summer.

“I couldn’t see myself just being a lifeguard for the rest of my life and I’d been one since I was 14, so I started thinking what it was I wanted to do ,” he says. “Over that summer, I was picked to be the director of lifeguarding at the United North Piha Lifeguard Club and that got me interested in how the club ran. It was a volunteer position but I wanted to move into management and impact change in the organisation.”

Every week his mum shoved university pamphlets under his door and one day he stumbled across a Massey brochure. “Massey ticked all the boxes for me and was a really appealing degree.” In 2006 he enrolled for the Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in Sport Business Management and finished the degree as a Massey scholar (aka a top student).

“I had a seventh form English teacher who said ‘Oh you’re not going to be anything and you’re probably just going to muck around in your life’ and in my first university assignment I got an A – I proved her wrong!”

In the last year of the degree he interned with Bowls New Zealand and was offered a full time position once he graduated. During his four years with the organisation he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing to give him more job opportunities in the future.

With his eyes still set on working for Surf life Saving New Zealand, Rob landed himself a job at the organisation’s Northern Region Office in September last year as the club development officer.

Despite working full-time, Rob has retained his volunteer directorship position at the Piha club and still spends his weekends patrolling the beach. He says studying at Massey gave him the confidence he needed to succeed.

“Working in surf life saving isn’t an area you’re likely to find Māori and Pasifika people. I’m definitely a minority in the organisation but I think that’s a cool thing.”

“I haven’t given up on who I am and at Massey you can be whoever you want to be. Irrespective of the road blocks in the way, if it’s what you want to do, don’t let it stop you from what you want to be.”

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