Norah (Qingwen) Guan
Assistant manager, Kiehls L'Oreal - Auckland, New Zealand
- Master of Business and Management
Tell us about yourself
I’m from Xi’an, a large city with a population of 10 million in northwest China. After completing my undergraduate degree in China, I started my career with Unilever in Beijing, where I worked as a key account assistant, then sales representative, sales and marketing specialist, and was eventually promoted to assistant key account manager in Beijing.
After 10 years with Unilever, I decided to take a break and recharge myself in New Zealand.
What made you choose Waikato?
I had heard about the University of Waikato from alumni who had studied here. I also attended a China education exhibition where I learned more about the university and decided to enrol for a Master of Business and Management.
Waikato Management School has a prestigious reputation internationally and the courses are very well regarded. The one-year postgraduate course suited my needs perfectly.
What were your first impressions of the campus and of Hamilton?
Hamilton is an exquisite city to live in. The cost of living is very reasonable, and the commuting times are shorter compared to bigger cities like Auckland. The campus is stunning, and the resources in the library are modern and have everything you need. This is the first time I have studied overseas and the campus and atmosphere at Waikato is superb for learning.
What work did you do during your internship at Blue Pacific Minerals?
During my three-month internship at Blue Pacific Minerals, I was able to combine my past work experience with knowledge gained from the Master of Business and Management.
This involved mapping out a business strategy for them to successfully enter the Chinese water remediation market with their product, Aqual-P, which is an environmentally safe product used to combat nutrient-based algal bloom water courses, or catchments.
I was able to identify the market size for water remediation in the Chinese market, outlining the plan the Chinese Government has for investing in the environmental protection industry.
I prepared a plan for Blue Pacific Minerals which included raising brand awareness, creating a list of strategic partners, key areas, influencers and industry conferences. Throughout my internship I worked with BPM’s business development manager, Bernard Novak. He really encouraged and inspired me, and I enjoyed my time working with him.
How do you think your research will impact Blue Pacific Minerals, the University and the community?
The product BPM wants to launch into the Chinese market was developed by University of Waikato students. I helped BPM outline a plan to successfully enter the Chinese market by identifying where they could leverage relationships with influencers and large local Chinese companies.
If BPM is successful in launching Aqual-P into the Chinese market, it would attract more investment and potentially lead to more research and development work for students at the university. Introducing Aqual-P to the Chinese market would create job opportunities and benefit residents in the long run.
What was the highlight of your time here in New Zealand?
I had multiple “first time in my life” experiences while in New Zealand. It was my first time studying abroad and working with people from different countries. A highlight was climbing Mt Te Aroha and interning at a local charity organisation. It was a lot to fit into one year.
What was your biggest challenge while studying?
The biggest challenge I faced was working with other students in a collaborative environment. We had to complete one paper each month and work with different classmates for each one. I found it challenging at first to identify my role in the groups and accepting I didn’t always agree with what was planned. I then realised this was an area where I needed to grow. It taught me how to work more collaboratively and complete tasks within a group, whatever the proposal was. It also taught me to be more open minded toward other ideas, different to my own.
What was your experience like being part of the CAPE programme?
It was a great honour for me to be involved in the Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence (CAPE) programme and I’d like to say thank you to CAPE for providing such a wonderful opportunity for international students to participate in New Zealand local business. It was a fantastic journey and I met lots of amazing people.
What are your plans for the future once you complete your study?
I’d like to explore my career in New Zealand using my experience in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, and knowledge of the Chinese market, to add value to local businesses here. I’d like to help more New Zealand companies bring high-quality brands and products to the Chinese market.