Pursuit Of Corporate Career Brings Purpose

Published: Fri 5 Apr 2024 07:03 AM
Pacific academic and lecturer Sione Taufa left his homeland of Tonga, traditionally from a long line of fishermen, farmers, weavers, and teachers, with dreams to enter the corporate world.
From the outset, Taufa (Nomuka, Ha’apai and Fua’amotu, Tongatapu) had already answered a ‘calling’ to support his community.
“My father said, hold on stay. Stay and help us out. Help us with our farming, grow yams, cassava and help the family. Two years later, I was still there.”
He eventually left to undertake his studies, graduating from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Commerce and later a Master’s degree; a job offer from a multinational corporation quickly followed.
“Someone's always chasing paper somewhere,” he told an audience recently at Using Business for Good; insights from Māori & Pacific business leaders, held at the University’s Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga (South Auckland) campus in Manukau.
“Because all of us are chasing paper. Whether it's degrees, whether it's money, whether it's a visa, someone's chasing paper somewhere.”
The corporate job offer was put on hold, a temporary move he thought at the time, as Taufa’s postgrad studies segued into a teaching position at the University. This marked the start of his journey toward becoming Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University’s Business School.
Teaching awards followed while supporting and influencing a generation of Māori and Pacific students through university and into lucrative corporate careers.“This place gives you a platform that you can influence the lives of at least 2000 students at least daily, right? I said, this is where I want to be,” he says reflecting on the different paths that were open to him.
“But it's all about a purpose. Something is much bigger than us. I remember growing up in Tonga, where success isn’t measured by the person who actually got to the top but how many people you actually pulled up? It's not about you. It's about others. It's about the collective. That's our purpose.”
Taufa was the Vice Chair of the New Zealand Small Business Council, and is a former Chairman of the New Zealand Tonga Business Council where he remains a board member. He has led business missions to Tonga, advising the Tongan government on numerous issues, as well as advising previous New Zealand governments.
A chartered accountant Taufa continues to support a number of small businesses, church and community groups while maintaining significant networks amongst the Pacific community in Aotearoa and around the Pacific region. He’s also a frequent commentator and contributor on Pacific Media Network regarding Pacific economic and political issues.
“And I just find that fascinating, it was all by chasing purpose.”
Last year proved to be a highlight when he was appointed Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University’s Business School, the first time the role has been held independently.
“And I always had to pinch myself sitting at the table. How a kid from Tonga was planting yams and ends up being at that table, helping to run the number one business school in the country – that was my purpose, and that's probably my advice for all of us.”Associate Dean (Pacific) Sione Taufa

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