Changing course: How BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship recipient Connor found his way to accounting

Accounting was never on Connor Mitchell’s radar until he was well into his university studies. As one of three recipients of this year’s BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship and soon taking up a graduate position at BDO Christchurch, he’s proof that it’s never too late to try new things.

Below, Connor explains why accounting appeals to him, what it means to receive the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship and what he hopes for in the future.

“I was a late starter to accounting but I’m making up for it now.”
Growing up I always wanted to be a rugby player, which is quite different to accounting! In fact, I didn’t study any accounting at all until the end of my second year at university. I hadn’t done accounting at school so it was quite a leap to pick it up at uni, but I’ve loved it.

To me, accounting offers a diverse career path – it lets you move between industries, companies and roles. I love problem-solving, asking questions and looking for the truth, and accounting gives me that.
“An internship at BDO Christchurch made me want to apply for the scholarship.”
I didn’t know anything about the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship until a staff member at BDO Christchurch suggested it to me. After researching more I was keen to apply. I find Sir Henare Ngata’s life really inspiring – not just his achievements, but how he reorientated his life after WWII and focused on serving his community.
"It’s important to strengthen Māori communities.”
It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship. I hope to play my part in carrying on Sir Henare Ngata’s legacy and continue his advocacy work for Māori communities. The mentorship offered through the scholarship will be instrumental in helping with my long-term career planning and decision-making.
“I’m aiming to become a chartered accountant.”
Over the next few years, I want to work towards getting my CA and then see what opportunities are available to me. For now, I’m looking forward to my grad role in the Audit and Assurance team at BDO Christchurch and learning more about the practical aspects of audit engagement, building on the theory I’m learning at uni.
“You have nothing to lose by applying for the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship.”
To anyone considering applying for this scholarship in future, I say you should go for it – you have absolutely nothing to lose and lots to gain.

About the BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship

The BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship aims to help address the underrepresentation of Māori within the accounting profession. It offers financial assistance, an internship or graduate opportunity with a BDO firm, registration to the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa hui, and mentorship with BDO. To find out more, click here.

Connor is one of three recipients of the 2024 BDO Sir Henare Ngata Scholarship. Click here to read Rosie’s story and here to learn about Chris.