Interview with Katie Bhreatnach on AMP's New Māori Law Graduate Role
Interview with Katie Bhreatnach, General Manager - Legal and Governance, AMP.
AMP are seeking a passionate and driven Māori law graduate to join them for a 2-year fixed-term opportunity to support the wider Legal & Governance team with the implementation of initiatives which drive business strategy. View job ad.
Katie (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Mahuta) is an experienced Director, General Counsel and Executive leader with over a decade of broad-based executive experience including in an ASX100, Fortune 500, start-up and an SOE, in sectors as diverse as financial services, food, FMCG, aviation and telecommunications. Katie is a graduate of the Advanced Management Programme at Global Business School INSEAD, a Chartered member of the Institute of Directors and member of Global Women and Te Hunga Roia. Her current directorships include AMP Wealth, AMP Services, Te Wananga `o Aotearoa, the College of Law, Global Women, the Trusts Arena and Chair of St Marys College in Ponsonby.
What are the key drivers behind you and the AMP team coming up with this idea?
As one of New Zealand’s oldest companies, AMP has a rich history, and recently they have embraced a more intentional focus on attracting Māori in greater numbers to its work force. When I came into the organisation, in late November 2022, I had the opportunity to reshape my team and I floated the idea of bringing in a Māori graduate lawyer – and there was a really positive reaction!
On a personal note, creating pathways for Māori law graduates, in particular for in-house commercial roles, is an idea that I’m passionate about. There are more pathways for graduates compared to when I graduated, but in my opinion, there is still an underrepresentation of Māori in in-house commercial roles. As in-house commercial teams we tend to rely primarily on the big law firms for our pipeline of talent; with a view that it’s hard to bring in a graduate to an in-house team without the grounding of working for a big firm first. But I’m interested in challenging that! So we are creating a new pathway, in a very deliberate way.
Some of the exciting things we’re offering with this role is paying for their Professional Legal Studies Course (Profs) with the College of Law, a free membership to Te Hunga Rōia, and Russell McVeagh are supporting us by including our graduate in their training programmes.
How did this idea begin?
The kakano (seed) developed when I was down in Otago for the 30th anniversary of Te Roopū Whai Pūtake (Māori Law Students Association). It was incredibly energising being around all the rangatahi and seeing how many more Māori are now studying law since when I was at law school. I left the hui feeling uplifted by their ideas, the work they’ve been doing, and their views on the world. And I wanted that energy in my in-house team!
In-house lawyers are not just lawyers; we also need to understand our business deeply, help problem solve and work collaboratively to create success. Bringing in in house lawyers at a graduate level, and for them to learn and be nurtured in this context is something I am excited to support.
In Māori we talk about the concept of ako, which is the idea that teachers are also learners and can learn from their students. There is a reciprocity and it’s about learning and growing together. I believe a graduate’s fresh perspectives and ideas will be a benefit to all.
So far, what has been your highlight during this process?
The highlight for me is how supportive people across the in-house community have been. I think there’s a recognition among many people in the community that we can do better in this space, and many people have reached out offering their support – whether it be words of encouragement, sharing the role across their network or offering mentorship to our graduate.
What would your advice be to other in-house teams considering taking a similar approach?
I’m more than happy to have a coffee and korero with anyone who is interested in doing the same, so please reach out! We’re giving it a go, and if there’s something we do or don’t get right – we’ll share our learnings and have an open conversation. If it’s successful we can’t wait to show others the great opportunity. So please spread the word! If you know anyone about to graduate, we’d love to hear from them.
Finally, what is your hot tip for applicants?
When I read a CV, I like to get a sense of who the person is. I always start with whanaungatanga – getting to know the person. I’m more interested in this than your grades to be honest… So, my hot tip is to make sure who you are jumps off the page!
Interested? View and apply online.