Ten years of service marked by Ignite

Preparing to celebrate Ignite Consultants' 10th anniversary are (from left) chief operating...
Preparing to celebrate Ignite Consultants' 10th anniversary are (from left) chief operating officer Hannah Brown (23), project manager Holly Armstrong (20), chief executive Alexander Rasmussen (23) and chief financial officer Tom Darry (21). PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
"I think Ignite is one to watch. It's going places. Watch this space."

So says Ignite Consultants chief executive Alexander Rasmussen, who is preparing for the voluntary not-for-profit organisation's 10th anniversary celebration in Dunedin next week.

Ignite was started after Polish exchange student Agnieszka Nazaruk recognised a "disconnect" between students in the city and what was a very large not-for-profit charitable sector.

That prompted the offering of free consulting services, involving students, to not-for-profit organisations.

Mr Rasmussen, who is studying law, economics and accounting, said he was "incredibly proud" of the work Ignite did.

Clients had an opportunity to engage external help without having to pay "ludicrous" fees that they might have to with some "big name consultants", he said.

Those clients were very diverse, ranging this semester from Anglican Family Care and the Cancer Society to Orokonui Ecosanctuary and the Wildlife Hospital.

The students were also diverse and Ignite had done a lot of work trying to engage students from different backgrounds, outside law and commerce who were its typical consultants.

One client this semester was based on Stewart Island and an opportunity to expand into the wider Central Otago region was also exciting, he said.

It was about working with clients and ensuring the recommendations and options put forward were easily implemented and beneficial to clients.

"There's no point saying, `just go hire a top New Zealand athlete to promote your organisation'," Mr Rasmussen said.

Students were often portrayed "in a pretty poor light" yet Ignite was an opportunity to give back to a community which gave so much to them.

It was also a fantastic opportunity for students to practise the skills that they were likely to use "in the real world".

They were engaging with real problems, not sitting in a lecture theatre with a case study in front of them, he said.

For chief financial officer Tom Darry, who will take over as chief executive next year, his Ignite involvement had been the best university experience he had. He also cited the practical element and "real world" side to it.

In 2014, Ignite, with assistance from the university, Dunedin City Council and Otago Community Trust, won the Trustpower Dunedin Community Awards' Supreme Award, for its services to not-for-profits. The Dunedin Night Shelter was one of the initiatives that had been an Ignite idea.

Ignite alumni were now all over the world and it was interesting to see how many had gone down the not-for-profit path, having had that passion generated while at university, Mr Rasmussen said.

Ignite was looking at offering a longer service period which was potentially exciting and it was also expanding to offer governance internships to its alumni.

The 10th anniversary celebration at Toitu next Thursday would be an opportunity to reflect on the past decade and celebrate the hard work that had gone in, he said.

There was a backlog of clients wanting to work with Ignite while it was "incredibly competitive" to join as a consultant.

"It's been an incredibly successful year this year. I'm just really excited about where we can go," he said.

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