A managerial role at McDonald’s led 28-year-old Garth Tunnicliffe to study a Master of Management Studies, and now he’s heading to South East Asia to pitch a business idea that could really take off.
Tunnicliffe is one of 16 students around New Zealand selected for the SEA CAPE Tertiary Market Immersion Programme – an all-expenses paid trip that sees business students travelling to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
“This is a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to the connections I will make with the other students on the programme,” he says.
During the trip, students will be guided by academic mentors to develop a business pitch aimed at New Zealand businesses and entrepreneurs who want to engage with companies in South East Asia.
Tunnicliffe intends to pitch his business idea, which involves linking New Zealand businesses with business mentors in Singapore.
“My business pitch involves a mentorship programme, linking Singaporean business mentors with New Zealand entrepreneurs who want to do business there.
“The idea involves making these links via an online platform, rather than having to visit Singapore physically. It’s really a social enterprise so you pay as you earn. For start-up companies, there’s no cost involved, but as the business becomes scalable and access to more information is required, they would then pay a membership.”
Management and business is no foreign territory for Tunnicliffe, who landed his first job at McDonald’s fresh out of high school.
“I just wanted to leave home and took the first job that was offered to me, so I ended up working at McDonald’s after high school and became a manager there.
“They have a great management programme and I won a few awards throughout my management training, which including awards at a shift supervisor level course, then at an assistant manager level course, then at a restaurant manager level course.”
Tunnicliffe then went on to do a myriad of other jobs and training, from gaining a diploma in hospitality management, to teaching employment skills to secondary school students. And, more recently, he’s been teaching a communication module as part of the Diploma of Business at Wintec.
He’s also just started a role as the first President of Community for Change – a student organisation that creates positive social impact through student and/or staff led projects.
“I love developing people and that’s why I decided to study a Bachelor of Communication Studies and now a Masters of Management Studies at the University of Waikato. And now that my son is five-years-old, I thought it was a good time to come and study.”
As part of his masters degree in leadership communication, Tunnicliffe will be researching neuro-leadership, which combines neuroscience and leadership practices.
“There’s a wide range of leadership research, but combining it with neuroscience is relatively new.
““I wanted to learn more about this, so I did a directed study, which I’ve just finished, looking at cognitive bias and how it can be addressed by neuro-leadership principles.”
Though Tunnicliffe is in the midst of his masters research, he’s looking forward to heading overseas on the Tertiary Market Immersion Programme.
His selection on the programme was made possible through Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs), which are committed to enhancing New Zealand’s economic engagement and cultural understanding with the Asia-Pacific region, and building New Zealanders’ understanding and ability to engage.
Tunnicliffe says the upcoming opportunity to be part of a fully-funded business programme would not be possible without CAPEs’ help.
“It’s such a great opportunity, yet a lot of students don’t know it exists,” he says. “I would encourage any student interested in what CAPEs has to offer to apply for these trips.”