Thomas James | Stage 2 Pinnacle Programme Student

Thomas' story

My name is Thomas James, I am an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Canterbury.

I like a challenge; I enjoy taking an idea and turning it into something workable.

In my spare time I like to design and build solutions to the everyday problems I see in the world around me.

I hope one day my solutions will be able to be used to help others.

I also enjoy spending time in the outdoors. I like to organise hikes to inspire and encourage people to try new challenges, to move outside of their comfort zones and experience nature.

I am inspired by what other people have been able to achieve through thinking creatively and persisting in finding new ways of doing things.

Get to know Thomas

What made you apply for the Hyundai Pinnacle Programme originally? How did you come across it?
I was told about the Hyundai Pinnacle Programme when I became interested in completing a 10-day voyage with the Spirit of Adventure Trust. The Hyundai Pinnacle Programme was an opportunity that could help me to make that dream a reality, an opportunity that could help me to grow my skills as a leader, that would help me to develop my interpersonal skills, and would help me to equip myself to be able to tackle challenges and uncertainties head on.
How has the Hyundai Pinnacle Programme helped you?
The Hyundai Pinnacle programme has provided me with lots of opportunities that I simply would not have otherwise had. Being able to go on amazing courses such as Outward Bound, being able to meet and get to know inspiring New Zealanders who are my own age. It is through these invaluable experiences, that I have been able to learn more about myself and grow as a leader and as a person.
How has being a New Zealander helped you in the world?
As a New Zealander I have been immersed in the ‘do it yourself’ idea, it has given me the confidence to believe that you can create a solution with limited resources, if you apply ingenuity. Being a New Zealander has helped me to appreciate the natural environment, which we are never far from. It has given me the ability to relate first hand to the impact that our actions have and the associated need to take responsibility for them. Being a civil engineer focused on sustainability and carbon reduction, having a deep knowledge and understanding of the Māori values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and mauri (lifeforce) is extremely helpful. I believe that humans have become disconnected from nature, and to live in the world sustainably in the future, we must rekindle our connection and think of ourselves as a part of nature, not separated from it. These are values I have learnt through school, and part of the reason being a New Zealander has helped me in the professional space.
What drives you?
The desire to make a difference and to help people in the world around me.
What do you do for fun?
I like to tinker with electronics in the garage, seeing what I can make, always with the hope that something will be able to be used to help others.

I also enjoy going for a good tramp as it allows me to get away and enjoy the New Zealand bush.
How do you define Future Positive?
It is positive thinking, having the mindset that doesn’t see issues as problems but rather as opportunities to create solutions that can help people in the future.
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
In 5 years time, I hope to be working as an Electrical Engineer designing and creating solutions that will benefit others.
Do you feel positive about the future? Why?
The future is what we decide to make of it and because of that I believe the future holds a lot of potential; it just requires a positive attitude and a willingness to tackle the challenges that come our way.

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