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4 Jul, 2021 - 3 min read

Hancine Samvelyan:
our own education leader

Hancine's story is the epitome of lifelong learning, leadership and constantly overcoming adversity.

Hancine grew up in Rotorua, and her relationship with learning didn’t get off to an A+ start. She struggled at school from an early age. With a lot of expectations placed on her by her parents and constant comparison to her brother, a straight A student, Hancine continuously failed to achieve and ultimately really disliked school. She was happy to see her time in the school system at an end.

After leaving school, fearful and lost Hancine knew she had to do something so she enrolled in the local polytechnic. She passed her Certificate in Environmental Science and Resource Management with Distinction. Unknown to her at the time gained her entrance to University through two mathematics with statistics papers.  

Starting her working career, Hancine got a job as a computer technician at the school where her dad supplied equipment. This is where her relationship with learning started to change, as she taught herself everything she needed to know on the job. She achieved her Microsoft credentials and learned about servers, networks and a bunch of other technical skills as she went.

“I really enjoyed working practically with the computers and servers. It sparked my interest and on reflection, was the first time I actually enjoyed learning and felt successful for the first time in my life.” 

When she decided to go to University her relationship with learning pivoted once again, after finding out she was dyslexic. Not only did this give more clarity to her school experience, but it also meant she could now create strategies to utilise the way her brain functioned. It also came with the realisation that nothing would be conventional or easy for her. She completed a Bachelors, choosing Screen & Media with a goal of improving her writing and continuing her passion for technology. She achieved her Bachelor of Arts & Computer Science from Waikato University.

Hancine wasn’t finished with learning (spoiler alert, she never will be) and after a recommendation from a mentor she took on teacher training, knowing she could help others who loved to learn but needed to be shown what other ways of learning could look like. She achieved her Master of Educational Leadership from Waikato University. She also found out she was pregnant during her teacher training, so took on the ultimate learning of motherhood alongside the time-intensive study.

Fast forward to today, and Hancine’s learning achievements include The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital & Collaborative Learning, a Diploma in Teaching and Learning from Canterbury, a paper on Leadership and Social Justice and Tech Futures Lab’s Organisational Agility Micro-credential. An incredible list for someone who’s faced the ongoing challenge of a learning disorder!

“One thing that I have found out through my learning journey is that I thought my ability to think (creatively, divergently and critically) was detrimental to my success due to failing, thinking differently from the crowd and generally struggling through formal education. However, the more I apply myself to different contexts, the way I think is actually really sought after in organisations. I have a way of communicating and sense-making that helps people to understand complex problems. Something I love to bring to my mahi.”

Hancine’s experience comes from a combination of this diverse pool of learning, as well as the other projects and roles she’s taken on along the way. She’s worked with Next Foundation and Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru, a project that delivered future-focused learning to 40 schools in Rotorua, and for the last few years helped to deliver the Master of Teaching and Education Leadership (previously offered at The Mind Lab). She is also continuing to discover her own whakapapa, something she believes is important to share with her two children; Nikita and Jivan.

Hancine is passionate about enabling schools and leadership teams to move to a more technology-integrated approach, particularly the changes to behaviour and strategy that come with this move. She has brought her experience in change, and her knowledge of the vital position leadership has in change, into her new role as Programme Lead for the Leading Change for Good Postgraduate Certificate.

“Right from the outset I could see that leaders either enable or disable people and ideas. I knew through my experiences working with a number of Principals and community leaders – leadership was a critical piece to the success of real transformative practice. If we truly want change then we have to be challenged and be comfortable being uncomfortable. We need leaders who are prepared to listen, prepared to be inclusive, prepared to take risks as well as being open to new ways of thinking and doing.” 

Hancine strongly believes in ongoing learning, and harnessing what you learn for good. This means being incredibly self-aware, and utilising your personal strengths (or recognising where development might be needed) for your management or leadership style. The key being to work out the difference between leading people and managing people, when each role is needed, and the skills required for both.