The reality of entering an international market and the impact innovation has on economies was brought home to Accounting Major, Sidney-Rei Te Maungarongo Stoneham, on a recent trip to Vietnam.
Sidney was part of the University of Waikato’s, Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa (THaK), programme, designed for Māori business students to improve Māori business, capability, awareness and engagement in the Asia, Pacific region.
Since 2018, The University of Waikato has delivered Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa on behalf of the North Asia (NACAPE), the Southeast Asia (SEACAPE) and the Latin America (LATAMCAPE) Centre’s for Asia Pacific Excellence.
Originally from Matata in the Bay of Plenty, Sidney says she joined the University because of the reputation of its Management School and its focus on Māori students through programmes like THaK.
Sidney had been studying at Waiariki Institute of Technology, but a contract between the Institute and the University meant cross crediting papers was easy and the process didn’t cost her anything.
“THaK was highly valuable to me as I now have real international experience under my belt, at no cost. I took many valuable lessons away from the trip to Vietnam, both personally and professionally, including the relationships created both within the cohort and in Vietnam,” she said.
Her involvement in the programme has helped grow her networks with Maori business leaders throughout New Zealand and he said and the trip to Vietnam allowed her to broaden her economic knowledge and learn more about the rapid growth of the Vietnamese economy over the past few years.
“I believe this will be very fruitful information to share with colleagues in order to come up with ideas that could be implemented into Māori space to encourage growth in the Māori economy,” she said.
A highlight of the trip to Vietnam was attending the Hanoi Innovation Summit, an annual convention held at the Vietnam National Convention Centre in Ha Noi. The event attracts more than 100 speakers, 3000 attendees and over 100 start-up tech businesses.
The summit covered different themes including the environment, mobility and logistics, life science, future of work, consumers and smart cities.
“I was blown away at some of the cool, hip and innovative startups, it was also great to hear about what it was like for them to enter the market with a new idea. We also learnt about the challenges that they faced at this time.”
The trip also helped give Sidney cultural insight to the ethnic minority in Vietnam, learnings about life in a country with a different political structure and understanding of Vietnamese business etiquette and an illustration of the impact that innovation has on the economy.
She encourages other students to apply for the THaK programme and take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
“The application process itself is super simple and doesn’t require much aside from a two-minute video. Put some effort behind the content of your application and video and you are good to go,” she said.
Sidney will begin a graduate role with KPMG as a financial auditor in 2020 and then plans to start progressing towards her Chartered accounting qualification.