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Source: University of Waikato

An all-expenses paid trip to Southeast Asia, which involved interning at Fonterra’s Malaysia branch and rubbing shoulders with key business leaders, has given University of Waikato student Garth Tunnicliffe invaluable insights to the region’s business landscape, and a potential foot in the door.

Tunnicliffe, who is studying a Master of Management Studies in Leadership Communication, travelled to the region as part of a fully-funded programme by Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (SEACAPE) – an initiative that is committed to enhancing New Zealand’s economic engagement and cultural understanding in Southeast Asia.

As part of the experience, Tunnicliffe travelled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to learn about business and trade operations in each country.

“There’s a strong desire for agritech technology and services in Singapore,” he says.

“Singapore produces 10% of their own food, and they’re looking to increase that to 30% by 2030, so the demand for agricultural technologies, especially from a New Zealand point of view, is something they’re very interested in.

“There’s also a demand for alternative energy solutions, and with New Zealand being a leader in geothermal energy, they’re looking at what we can offer in that domain.”

During the trip, Tunnicliffe visited the Ministry of State Secretariat in Indonesia, interned at the Fonterra Global Business Services Centre in Malaysia, and heard from key businesses leaders including the New Zealand Post’s Singapore General Manager, and Head of Asia and Europe.

He says one of the key highlights of the trip was working with other students to formulate a business pitch, which they then presented at the New Zealand High Commission in Singapore.

Tunnicliffe says, as a student, it was the most valuable trip he could go on.

“Overall the trip gave me a chance to see what options there are in those countries when I graduate.

“Having come back from this experience, I’ve had to reconsider my career path and look at the opportunities that have presented themselves.”

As well as studying a masters degree, Tunnicliffe tutors the paper ‘Introduction to Leadership Communication’, and is currently the President for Community for Change – a student-led social enterprise that creates opportunities for participation in social projects.

When he finishes university, he hopes to take what he’s learned into the business world.

“I’m very interested in management consulting. I’d like to work for an internationally recognised firm, but in saying that, there are so many opportunities in Southeast Asia I’m keeping my options open.”

SEACAPE is one of three Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs), alongside North Asia and Latin America. The CAPEs offer events, programmes, scholarships, internships, and other initiatives to support New Zealand’s businesses, schools, communities and students to better understand the key countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The University of Waikato leads the education and Māori business strands of work for the CAPEs.