Success Stories 14 Feb 2020
For as long as she can remember, Leyla Niowenmal's father taught her the importance of hard work and believed that greater things awaited her outside of Vanuatu.
"My dad really sacrificed himself to allow my siblings and I to attend the best schools," Leyla says
"He didn't want me to settle with less, so he always pushed me to study abroad because he knew that it would bring me so much more benefits."
"Now that I am about to complete my bachelors degree I finally believe in myself and I know I can further my education and go on to do my masters. I credit my father for believing in me, he really is the one that motivates me to put 100% effort in everything I do."
Born and raised on the island of Efate in Vanuatu, Leyla attended primary and secondary school in the capital city, Port Vila with her four younger siblings.
However, after finishing from secondary school Leyla encountered some minor setbacks.
"When I finished high school I had no idea which career path to choose," she said
"I wanted to continue with my studies, however my family could not afford the fees so I started working in an accounting firm."
"In my second year of working at the firm, I realised that I really enjoyed it so I decided it was better for me to continue my studies in this particular area."
As soon as Leyla became clear with her career path, her father's wish for her to pursue something overseas became a reality when she was awarded the NZ Aid scholarship.
"I have had a lot of great opportunities through this scholarship."
"First of all this scholarship has motivated me to put 100% into my studies and it has paid off. I was able to attend the Pacific Futures conference and hear from many great Pacific leaders about the issues affecting the Pacific region."
"The scholarship has also enabled me to meet so many people of other backgrounds and gain opportunities such as this internship."
Through the PCF Summer Internship programme, Leyla interned at Deloitte in Auckland, working in the Assurance and Advisory Team. She explains that during her internship, she learned about the different stages of auditing, and worked on a Pasifika-oriented project with her supervisor Lisa Tai.
"The Pasifika project with Lisa has been an eye-opener for me. I found out that there are a lot of challenges and barriers Pacific-owned businesses face but I thought about how Deloitte would be able to help those businesses grow."
"The project allowed me to fly to Wellington for the first time, and present in front of partners and employees in the Wellington branch which I was quite nervous about."
"However, this internship has helped me grow personally and professionally. I have gained a new perspective on leadership style, working environment and culture."
Lisa Tai who is the Associate Director at Deloitte says that corporate companies learn a lot from interns, particularly those who identify as Pacific.
"Many interns speak of their gratitude to their host agencies," Lisa says
"But we all know that our young people enrich and contribute greatly to the workplace with their culture, passion, intelligence, dedication and humility. Our organisations are better off for it!"
With her sights set on further studies, Leyla also hopes to give back to the youth when she returns to Vanuatu by setting up workshops on financial literacy, budgeting and addressing high-unemployment rates.
"Something I'm taking away from my internship is the purpose of Deloitte which is 'making an impact that matters', it's something I want to be remembered for because I feel that making a great impact on someone's life or a community is rewarding."
Image: Leyla standing in front of Deloitte's organisational values