From 4-25 January 2020, 16 students from 7 universities across New Zealand swapped the lecture theatre for the hustle and bustle of three major Southeast Asian cities. Travelling through Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the group spent three weeks interacting with New Zealand and local government agencies and businesses to develop a holistic perspective on how New Zealand can engage with these dynamic markets and with the wider ASEAN region.
Led by SEA CAPE staff and a team of academics, the students were divided into four groups and tasked with developing business reports around how New Zealand can engage with Southeast Asian markets in the following areas:
- Social enterprise models for sustainability in Indonesia and Malaysia
- Singapore as a hub for New Zealand’s engagement in Southeast Asia
- The allure of the Indonesian, Malaysian or Singaporean food and beverage market for New Zealand
- New Zealand’s services into the Indonesian, Malaysian, or Singaporean markets.
In Jakarta, students braved the chaotic traffic to visit businesses and NGOs, including: XSProject, Suwe Ora Jamu, Greenhouse and M Bloc. At BRI Microfinance Centre they heard first-hand about the opportunities and challenges facing SMEs in Indonesia, and how micro-finance is being used to empower small and micro businesses. Later in the week, the group visited the ASEAN Secretariat, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, and the Indonesian Ministry of State Secretariat to learn about the country's key role in ASEAN as well its relationship to New Zealand in light of challenges of global trade. Meeting with NZ Ambassador to Indonesia Jonathan Austin and NZ’s Deputy Head of Mission to ASEAN Charlie Gillard at the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta was a particular highlight for many of the participants.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Kuala Lumpur leg of the programme included a two-day internship with companies based in the Malaysian capital. The internship host companies, Accelerate Global, Storiiu Sdn Bhd, Fonterra, New Zealand Unlimited and Datacom, offered the students hands-on work experience and valuable insights into Malaysian workplace culture.
During the remaining time in Malaysia the group visited a mixture of entrepreneurial and tech-focused organisations such as MaGIC, HLX and Maxis. At Maxis, students were hosted by SEA CAPE ASEAN@50 fellow Senthil Balan who gave a presentation on how to win in Southeast Asia through the power of relationship building. An undoubted highlight of the Malaysian leg of TMIP was an evening reception at the residence of NZ High Commissioner to Malaysia, Hunter Nottage, where the students each had the opportunity network and to speak about their TMIP experience so far.
Singapore marked the final leg of the programme. Students spent a busy few days learning from MFAT, NZTE, Education New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand, among others, about New Zealand’s trade and political relationship with Singapore and the value for New Zealand businesses in leveraging the NZ provenance story. They also learned about how New Zealand firms have successfully used Singapore as a hub to explore other Southeast Asian markets. Visits to A*Star and RSIS – S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies rounded out the week with observations on the Singapore story and the key drivers behind the country’s success.
The final presentations held at the NZ High Commission marked the end of the in-market programme. The afternoon was a great showcase of the TMIP 2020 journey in Southeast Asia and the learnings along the way, with each of the four groups successfully pitching their ideas to the audience and judges, which included High Commissioner Jo Tyndall.
The audience heard dynamic pitches on using Agritech to analyse the ways in which Singapore can be a gateway to the ASEAN region, opening the pathway for indigenous Maori brands through herbal tea, exporting New Zealand patient data managements systems to Malaysia, and managing food waste through social enterprise.
What next for TMIP 2020?
The students are now back in New Zealand, working on their business reports with guidance from their academic mentors.
Meet our TMIP 2020 Students
"The 2020 Tertiary Market Immersion Programme was one of the best experiences of my life! I embarked on Indonesia with little knowledge of the country other than the beautiful holiday destination of Bali. A key highlight was the ability to immerse myself in the culture and engage on a deeper level than your typical tourist.
I found it fascinating to learn about the unique challenges and differences in business environments between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The speakers from various organisations such as governmental agencies and NGO’s allowed for a well-rounded perspective of the business environments in Southeast Asia. These experiences, as well as opportunities to ask questions, is something you simply cannot get as a tourist. I left Southeast Asia with a completely new perspective of the region.
Since returning home, I find myself constantly comparing and contrasting New Zealand with Southeast Asia. Moving forward, I look to engage further with Southeast Asia and challenge assumptions on the region with my new-found knowledge. This programme has shown me the business potential of the region that is yet to be tapped into, and I’m interested to see how it develops. I couldn’t recommend the trip more!"
"As a Law and Arts student with minimal experience in business, I saw the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme as an opportunity to dive headfirst into the business world. Being immersed in an unfamiliar region was an invaluable experience as I was able to appreciate first-hand the business environment, politics, culture and geography of Southeast Asia.
Throughout the programme, we visited a range of people from NGO’s and governmental organisations to local universities. It was interesting to see how the different levels of development impacted the economic structures of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Although each country has its share of challenges and opportunities, culture is at the centre of Southeast Asia’s business environment. In order for New Zealanders to successfully enter the Southeast Asian market, we must learn to understand and respect the differences in cultural norms. The programme showed me the important role youth plays as the future of business, especially during a time where the potential for Southeast Asia’s market is increasingly becoming recognised.
I am humbled to have been part of such an incredible programme that presents young kiwi students the opportunity to swap the lecture theatre for the busy streets of Southeast Asia. Being able to learn from kiwi ex-pats and entrepreneurs alongside 15 other bright students has left me inspired and excited to continue my engagement with the region."
"I had a basic cultural understanding of some countries in South East Asia through friends and travel, but the idea of learning about business intrigued me. Prior to TMIP, I had no desire to work in South East Asia; however, my head has been turned! The experience and knowledge that I gained from TMIP was invaluable through first hand experience.
The ability to have Q&A sessions with businesses in each of the three countries was rewarding for everyone. These talks emphasised the influence of culture and how important it is to be knowledgeable of differences. Through these talks, I have learnt to view challenges as opportunities in business, but can see this as a new positive outlook on life in general. Prior to TMIP, I hadn't been aware of New Zealand's strong connection to South East Asia and I valued learning about ASEAN.
Building the bridge between South East Asia and New Zealand is extremely important and I will work for organisations that recognise this. I now have a stronger desire for where I want to end up in life and TMIP has helped to give me direction in my career. I am honored to have been a part of the programme. I have gained a lot of significant connections and met inspirational entrepreneurs."
"For me, the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme was a chance to figure out what sort of opportunities were available in Southeast Asia for New Zealand. I'd never been to Asia before but was convinced of the critical importance of the region as New Zealand continues to pivot towards Asia-Pacific. I applied for the trip knowing I was likely a bit naïve about the region and was very curious to learn what I didn't know.
Throughout the trip, we developed our knowledge and appreciation for the different economic, cultural, political and social contexts in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Particular surprises included exactly how many services could be delivered to your door in Jakarta through Gojek, the richness of shared history between New Zealand and Malaysia and what a craft beer brewery has to do to stay operating in Singapore. The recurring theme across all of the regions was the importance of managing your business relationships in the right way, which is not always going to be the New Zealand way.
I've had my eyes opened to both the potential of the region and the potential for New Zealand in the region. Southeast Asia is an exciting and fast-growing part of the world with substantial opportunities for New Zealand products, services and people. I'm already planning a trip back, knowing that while I learnt a lot on the trip, I've barely scratched the surface of what's out there in Southeast Asia!"
"The idea of getting to travel across three different countries with 15 incredibly interesting other students, learning how to do business and where the opportunities lie. If that isn’t the dream I don’t know what is.
The thing about going to such foreign countries for an experience like this, is that everything you do is a learning experience. Whether it is going to the planned business visits, talking to local students, or even walking somewhere for dinner. When everything is completely new, there is so much to learn. Another thing that pleasantly surprised me from the trip was the respect we were given. As someone who is not long out of high school, I am used to being talked at when going to presentations from any kind of company. However, on this trip we would go to huge MNCs and they would genuinely want to discuss with us our thoughts on their business and engage so openly.
This programme truly opened my eyes to the amount of opportunities out there that it is up to us to take. I now want to go explore so many more developing countries around the world and see where I can really make a change. I cannot recommend this experience enough. The networking, the adventures, the opportunities, the once in a lifetime experiences and the lifelong friends. It has helped set up the trajectory for the rest of my life and I am forever thankful for everyone who made it happen."
"The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme is an outstanding highlight of my undergraduate journey. This trip provided real world insights from the Southeast Asia region, insights that cannot be gained through books or word of mouth. I applied for this trip out of curiosity, and that curiosity was rewarded with an experience that I will remember forever.
I am more aware, more knowledgeable and more employable since attending TMIP. Through hearing from experts across multiple sectors, I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of the way the world works, of the global community and Southeast Asia’s place in it. During my trip I rubbed shoulders with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and government officials. With philanthropists, artists and community change leaders. They all have two things in common: their passion is infectious; their advice, priceless. Through these experiences, I now understand what I need to do to market myself as a global employee.
I will use this experience to guide my future career decisions. I will be back, Southeast Asia. You have won my heart. Visit for the experience, stay for the people, the culture, the opportunities. The time is ripe, the possibilities are endless."
"As someone who doesn’t know a lot about Southeast Asia, ASEAN and just Asia overall, I really didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived in Indonesia (the first leg of TMIP2020) it became clear just how ignorant I was about this region and its unique beauty. Through the three weeks, I realised just how important Southeast Asia was as a business region and market. This region is heavily underestimated when in fact the ASEAN region together becomes the 4th most valuable market after China, USA and Europe. SEA has finally come to the forefront of my mind as a dynamic, extremely valuable market that needs to be accessed.
For me, the biggest learning from this trip was about global business relationships. As someone who studies Finance, Accounting, Mathematics and Statistics I was always focused solely on numbers. This meant that when delivering a business pitch, I would always talk about revenue, profit, EBITDA - this is what I thought a business pitch was. However, when I got to SEA I realised just how wrong I was. Business in SEA is about relationships.
I like to use a metaphor here, where starting/growing business in SEA is a plant, this plant needs constant water, love and sunshine. You need to be there for it at all times and only then will it flourish. Furthermore, you should be extremely cautious about which plot of land you plant your flower in since each plot poses its own unique challenges and issues. In business talk, you need to really understand the region before you move to it. Overall, before you expand your business into SEA you need to make sure it is the best fit and also build a relationship only then will your plant reach its full potential."
"I applied for TMIP because although I often heard of the importance of Asia to New Zealanders both economically, historically and culturally I had little understanding of why or what this meant for the future. Many of the business challenges align with my interests such as building trust and navigating complex regulatory schemes in developing countries. Staying competitive and culturally competent in diverse rapidly developed societies and being equipped to live work and run a business across a region that is so diverse.
Although you can read about the scale, complexity and diversity of South East Asia, being immersed in it was a different experience. I learnt that it was often very small changes to your way of doing business such as investing in relationships and spending more time on WhatsApp that led to success alongside tackling big challenges like corruption. My favourite part of the trip was meeting New Zealand businesses and individuals that were confronting and navigating these challenges and capitalising on these opportunities and hearing the approaches they used.
As I go forward in my studies, community work, business ventures and career, SEA will be much more present in my mind. Whether it is as a potential area of research, a market for expansion or otherwise. TMIP has given me a foundation of knowledge, cultural competency and confidence to do so."
"After living in Malaysia for 5 years as a child, I had already been exposed to the difference of South East Asian culture and norms with respect to European norms. Having only lived there as a child however, I was very interested in looking at South East Asia again as an adult to discover what kind of opportunities there are for New Zealanders in the region. I was quite nervous to come into the programme coming from an Engineering background and little business knowledge, however there was no need to be worried. The range of topics covered, and speakers suited a variety of interests, and many other students were also lacking in strong business knowledge making me feel comforted.
Over the three weeks, we managed to visit a variety of organizations and businesses, met many inspiring people, became immersed in the different cultures of South East Asia, and learnt more than any university course would be able to offer. South East Asia is vastly different to New Zealand, which makes it all the more interesting to visit and do business in. The vibrant cities, the dynamic environment, everything about SEA makes it a wonderful place for Kiwis to traverse to. One of my most interesting learning outcomes from this trip was learning about the way different countries do business. What I didn’t realise was that business culture differed region by region in Southeast Asia, what may work in Indonesia is highly unlikely to work in Singapore due to different cultural and political backgrounds.
This was only one out of many learning outcomes, and so the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme certainly expanded my breadth of knowledge. I am very thankful for SEA CAPE and the government for offering this programme, as I know that it has impacted all of us students in the best way possible."
"I briefly studied and lived in SEA, and always considered coming back for work, but I really wanted to know more about the business opportunities and working culture in the region.
TMIP was the perfect opportunity for that; not only am I equipped with knowledge and skills that inform my future career opportunities and decisions, I have gained a wealth of experiences and knowledge across a wide range of industries and sectors in the these countries that I am sure I will make use of, in one way or another, to promote New Zealand's economic and cultural engagement with SEA.
TMIP was a very rewarding experience, and it is amazing think that in less than 3 weeks we learnt so much about the distinct markets and opportunities of 3 different countries!"
"Having not been to South-East Asia, I knew the knowledge and experience I would have gained during the trip would help me to get a better understanding of the regions. Only knowing about China (as I have been there a few times), I knew Asia as a whole was a robust place. But focusing on South East Asia, in particular Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, I now know these vibrant places have potential, growth and opportunities. Fully submerging myself in these three countries enabled me to connect with the culture and business environments. The trip has opened my eyes and expanded my understanding of the challenges and opportunities in these three countries. By having the opportunity to ask questions, discuss with business owners and observe kiwi and local business in these dynamic countries, I have more desire to engage more with Southeast Asia in the future. The influence of culture was fascinating from the value of partnership to consumer trends and insights.
Seeing this with my own eyes helped me realise that this trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has increased my desire to work there in the future and continue to learn about Asia. Thank you SEACAPE!"
"Arriving in Jakarta, looking out the window at the pure chaos and stark difference from what I knew in New Zealand, my world expanded and I saw opportunity I had never even known existed. It became immediately obvious that I was about to have a very deep experience which would grow my understanding of the world, people, and post university options significantly.
The trip was a continuous stream of sights, experiences and people that taught me things I could never have learned otherwise. My eyes were twice as wide as usual while I took in everything on offer throughout the programme. We were provided every opportunity to enjoy coming to understand the region and we were enabled to take these opportunities with both hands. With everything so well organised, no logistical thought got in the way of my listening, learning, observing and imagining.
I can truly say that Southeast Asia will play a role in my future sooner or later and this would never have been the case without the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme. It was interesting, informative and inspiring and I look forward to giving back."
"Having never travelled to South-East Asia before, the Tertiary Market Immersion Program immediately caught my eye. I wanted to immerse myself in the cultures, business ecosystems and dynamic economies that present themselves in this part of the world.
During the trip we were very fortunate to talk and interact with key business and political people in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. I found a lot of value travelling with like-minded people from New Zealand and always discussing our different thoughts on the businesses we were working with. Meeting with NZTE and having dinner at the High Commissioners house in Malaysia was a highlight for me where I gained a real insight into working and doing business as a New Zealander in this market.
TMIP opened my eyes to the opportunities that present themselves in these countries. I gained an immense amount of knowledge that will lead me into the coming decade where I can now see myself working in South-East Asia.
This programme for me is full of personal growth, learning and understanding different cultures and making friends for life."
"The Tertiary Market Immersion Programme 2020 was an incredibly insightful experience. Each of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore surprised in their own right. Beginning in Jakarta with the culture shock of being in a country completely different to New Zealand. It was interesting to see the huge contrast from visiting small social enterprises like Project XS, which supports the rubbish collectors to huge organisations with global influence like the ASEAN secretariat.
Furthermore, an internship in Kuala Lumpur not only shared how business is done with the immersion of being in the Malaysian culture and gaining an appreciation on how it influences business. Finally, Singapore was another contrast as the technology driven island country. It was fascinating to see New Zealand businesses leveraging their "kiwi creativity" to partner with multi-national organisations to expand their business throughout Asia.
The programme has opened up a part of the world I had not previously been involved in. I now have an appreciation for Southeast Asia and am interested in seeing its future direction and the role NZ can play in this."
"When I first saw the advertisement for the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme, I honestly could not believe such an opportunity existed. Being Malaysian and having spent my childhood there, I also thought it was uncanny that the three countries selected - Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore - were countries that I'm very familiar with. Nonetheless, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the business and political aspects of the countries. I also thought it would be interesting to learn about them from a New Zealand perspective.
Overall, I figured this would be an amazing experience. I was not disappointed. Yes, sure, I had some prior knowledge of the countries, but I learnt so much more. So much so that it has challenged my previous perceptions of the countries. This trip has completely opened my eyes and given me more awareness about the issues and opportunities existing within this region - it has given these countries a new identity for me. More than ever, I would like to get involved with Southeast Asia and Asia in general.
I hope to share all my insights and learnings from the trip and participate in similar programmes in the future. The trip has also consolidated my desire to study abroad, get an internship in, and work in Asia in the future."
"If there's one thing I learnt from the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme, it's that as New Zealanders we are all too often ignorant of South East Asia’s importance to us. There is a common perception of the region as being a great place to visit as a tourist, but not do business. My experience in the TMIP programme proved that stereotype to be completely false. Despite studying a Political Science degree and having some background knowledge on ASEAN, I can safely say there is no substitute for the depth of insight one gets from actually being on the ground in the region.
Aside from highlighting the incredible scale of a 260 million people large Indonesian market, my time visiting Jakarta helped me unravel the important role New Zealand can play in exporting our Geothermal expertise to Indonesia - the world’s 2nd largest geothermal energy producer. Who would have thought? My time in Malaysia interacting with our Chamber of Commerce and other local companies revealed the immense opportunity for New Zealand companies to export health technologies to a rapidly modernising Malaysian healthcare system. My time in Singapore taught me about the fantastic opportunity available for Kiwi agritechnolgoy firms to export their services to a land-scarce Government that wants to attain 30% self-sufficiency in food production.
All of these learnings were just a few amongst the many more I had gotten from the trip; and none of which I could have contextualised through a university paper or Wikipedia article. More importantly, the trip truly made me a South East Asia convert. Before, I always saw myself as being someone who would end up working in Europe or another Western country. Now, I can easily see myself working in all three countries - whether it be directly representing New Zealand through our Trade Commission, or indirectly through starting my own business there. If you crave dynamism and diversity, there’s no better place to be than South East Asia."