Victoria alumni in the Asia-Pacific region

Victoria has more than 100,000 alumni living, working and contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of more than 100 countries.

We caught up with four members of Victoria’s alumni community who live in work in the Asia-Pacific region.

Victoria Alumni Alexandra Grace, Regional director - Education New Zealand

Alexandra Grace

Regional director, Education New Zealand

BA(Hons) LLB Well

What have you been doing since graduation?

I started working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) legal division and from there went on secondment to our United Nations Mission in New York. A posting to Shanghai as deputy consul-general was preceded by two years of intensive language training at National Taiwan University. I am currently on leave from MFAT and have been based at the Embassy in Beijing as Education New Zealand’s regional director—greater China since 2011. There have been highlights of all kinds, including being a judge on a Chinese reality show.

How has Victoria prepared you for your career?

It sharpened my critical thinking and ability to see other perspectives. Working part time while studying developed prioritisation skills—important now I have three children and a husband with a job that’s also very busy.

But I wish I’d stuck with my Commerce degree beyond day two. Understanding economics is fundamental to understanding the way that everything works.

What opportunities do you see for  New Zealand in the Asia–Pacific region?

Being an Asia–Pacific nation is central to our identity, and it’s appreciated by our neighbours. We’re known for being constructive and fair-minded, and for giving things a go. Our products and services need to draw on our country’s attributes and be positioned at the niche and high-quality end of the spectrum, focusing on value over volume.

One common mistake I see is Kiwis not being adequately prepared for the market. There’s a misconception that China is a land of opportunity for everyone and that it’s ‘simply’ a matter of ‘finding’ the fraction of the population that will want your product or service.

I’ve seen otherwise smart people ease up on proper precautions like due diligence because they expect things to be different here. That’s true to some extent, but it’s not that different. You still need to do your homework and establish relationships before anything happens.

Victoria Alumni Jo Luping, Managing director - Jo Luping Design

Jo Luping

Managing director, Jo Luping Design

BA Well, BBA Massey, DipFA Otago

What have you been doing since graduation?

It’s been a really varied career, combining film, design and marketing work, in New Zealand and Malaysia.

I set up a design company—Jo Luping Design—producing objects for the architectural, interior design and gift industries, and selling into more than 500 stores throughout New Zealand. I’ve run this in tandem with a film career, directing and producing a number of films, including Reframe—an award-winning feature-length documentary about the work that my sister, an international human rights lawyer, was doing in the Palestinian occupied territories. At the moment, I’m working on a live action film based on a legend from the Sabah state in Malaysia, where I now live.

What opportunities do you see for  New Zealand in Malaysia?

There’s huge potential in Malaysia and specifically East Malaysia. Sabah is a state in the north of Borneo, and it’s positioning itself as the greenest state in Southeast Asia. Given New Zealand’s marketing under the 100% Pure New Zealand brand, I see potential for companies to provide agricultural or aquacultural expertise, or to take advantage of the state’s growing demand for sustainably farmed, organic foods to export their produce here.

What are some of the challenges Kiwis face doing business in your part of the region?

Business in Sabah is about building relationships with people face to face, which means projects take longer to develop than you’d expect in New Zealand.

It is easy to be an expat and just converse with expats, but if you want to build local relationships then being part of an organisation such as Rotary International is an excellent idea. This provides you with a network of local business people as well as getting you involved with the community.

Victoria Alumni David Tan, Managing director - Delphi Bioscience Asia

David Tan

Managing director, Delphi Bioscience Asia

BA(Hons) Well, PGDipEd Massey

How did your time at Victoria prepare you for your career?

The environment at Victoria moulded my perception of life and career. The open-door policy of the academic staff gave me many opportunities to consult them whenever I had problems with my studies. Their willingness and support gave me the same desire to break down walls in my own office, so that my staff can also be confident that the boss is not to be feared but to be their confidant on any problems faced by them.

If you had your time at Victoria again, is there anything you would do differently?

I would probably add a law component into my studies, as I think it would help me in my current work to speed up negotiations and build an appreciation of distributorship agreements.

What are some of the challenges Kiwis face doing business in Singapore?

New Zealanders need to learn to balance brand development and earning quick profits—the latter is often the primary focus for many Asian businesses. Also, not to be so trusting because opportunists will promise just about anything to get your business.

What advice would you give Victoria’s new graduates looking to live and work in your part of the Asia–Pacific region?

It’s very important to have an understanding, and appreciation, of local language and cultures.

Although the wages are attractive, living costs are pretty high. To help stretch your dollar, eat where the locals eat, live with others and use public transport. Also, you will work much harder and longer than in New Zealand. Don’t expect weekends to be your own!

Victoria Alumni David Hosking, Partner at Accenture

David Hosking

Partner at Accenture

BCA BSc Well

What have you been doing since graduation?

My career to date has spanned more than 26 years where I have performed a variety of consulting and technology roles. Straight out of university I joined Accenture—a global consulting, strategy, technology, digital and operations firm—and have enjoyed it so much I’m still here! I started as a consulting business analyst and programmer and then rapidly progressed into project and programme management roles. I now lead one of the biggest client account teams in Australia and have delivery and quality responsibility for health and public service projects across Asia–Pacific.

What future opportunities do you see for New Zealand in the Asia–Pacific region?

We are in a digital age, which means some of the disadvantages of being in New Zealand and so far away from major markets are starting to go away. Using the innate Kiwi traits of ambition and drive, combined with practicality, individuals and organisations can compete on a global stage using technology. New Zealand is doing an excellent job in positioning itself as an innovation and technology hub in the region and that makes me very proud as a Kiwi.

What are some of the challenges Kiwis face doing business in your part of the region?

Living in Australia is always challenging for a Kiwi—particularly with all of the trans-Tasman sporting contests. While the All Blacks keep winning it is bearable! Seriously though, I think Kiwis and the ‘can do’ attitude are highly valued globally. Perhaps the biggest challenge is being away from friends and family, either due to travel or relocation.