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Vanessa Hutchins

Although she had “all the experience in the world”, Vanessa Hutchins recognised that her lack of a tertiary academic qualification was holding her career back. “It was the only thing that I was missing to be formally accepted in a modern business world at a higher level,” she says.

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Not prepared to let it stand in her way, Vanessa approached the Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) at Ara, which helps individuals to translate their work experience into a formal qualification. “They could see my potential and recommended that I do a Bachelor of Applied Management. I wanted to live up to the potential they saw in me so I pursued the opportunity.”

Vanessa says doing her degree via CAPL suited her situation. She was able to continue working full time while studying, and because her experience could be translated into credits, the degree took far less time than the normal three years’ full time study.

Returning to study had its challenges, however. “I hadn’t been in an academic setting for many years so I had to realign my understanding of things with academic orientations. But I soon discovered that I had access to all the substantial resources available at Ara and I embraced the modern approach to learning. Having access to facilitators when I needed them made the learning process more productive.”

Vanessa is grateful for the support and guidance she received from the staff at CAPL. “Without it, the process would’ve been markedly more challenging,” she says. “They gave me flexibility, time, understanding, clarity and direction and their passion was amazing.”

The effort Vanessa put into her studies has been worth it; as a result she has greater opportunities for leadership and professional development. “It will open doors that previously weren’t easily accessible without a qualification of this level,” she says.

As manager of the Monza bar at Christchurch Casino, Vanessa is putting her degree to good use already. “It’s given me significant advantages in discussions and decision making of a business nature that I wouldn’t have had prior to the degree. On a personal level I feel that I’m more confident and secure in myself about my abilities. I feel more complete and empowered.”