entrepreneurship

Guest Piece: Put Six Strangers in a Room and See What Happens

An entrepreneurial story on the Sino-NZ model By April Henderson and Jane Armour-Raudon

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In November 2017, three Otago Polytechnic students; Jane Armour-Raudon, Evelyn Araujo Hodson and April Henderson won a fully funded experience to Tianjin China. They were selected through a New Zealand wide competition for individuals with an innovation mindset and entrepreneurial attitude, to experience a unique, cross cultural, innovation and entrepreneur student workshop.

The Sino-New Zealand Modern Vocational Education Development Forum is a result of the Strategic Education Partnership between China and New Zealand and facilitated by the Waikato Institute of Technology.

This year’s forum focussed on innovation and entrepreneurship. The student workshop was the practical outcome of Chinese and New Zealand delegates discussing innovation in vocational education at a scholarly level.

The winning New Zealand students worked alongside three winning Chinese students by first pitching their winning one-page business plans in a workshop, facilitated by entrepreneur Theresa Brady. Each idea was discussed and challenged. Feedback was given to help the group clarify each business proposition. On day two the group chose one of the business ideas to further develop and present at the conclusion of the conference.

Day three started with a group presentation of the workshopped business idea to over 200 New Zealand and Chinese delegates. This was followed by responses to both the business plan and the workshop outcomes, from the head of Sino-New Zealand vocational training at Tianjin Vocational Technical College and Erin Wansbrough CEO of SODA Inc.

The forum concluded with a Q+A session, run by Marc Doesburg of Otago Polytechnic, focusing on individual's learning outcomes and how they plan to integrate these learnings in their own business ventures.

Once back on New Zealand soil, the students were asked to reflect on their individual experiences.

The forum really opened my eyes. I learnt so much about business solutions, creation, sustainability and innovation.
— Evelyn
I learnt more expansive thinking around my business idea and gained valuable insights into my target market.
— Jane
I gained so much insight and inspiration from everyone involved. One of the goals I wanted to achieve while there was to get some connections that I could get in touch with once I graduate, and I achieved this!
— April

The goal of the Sino-NZ model is to strengthen collaboration between New Zealand and China. All six students agreed: “We have strengthened our cultural business understanding through overcoming differences and challenges to collaborate together to present a cohesive business model”.

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Article by April Henderson and Jane Armour-Raudon

Want to find out more? Contact Jane at artifactnz@gmail.com