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14

able to realise their expectations of gaining work

experiences in NZ companies.

Jonny Hendriksen had a fascination with Japan

from an early age. He remembered that in the

1980s he was virtually the first Kiwi to study

Japanese in his school. When he was 18, he

could not wait any longer and took off for

Japan. There, he found a job at the Sheraton

Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel and enrolled in Keio

University. In his final year of studies, he was

hired by Canon, where he learned a great deal

about the Japanese society and business

culture. Working at Canon also gave him the

idea and confidence to venture out on his

own. Shortly afterwards, he and a business

partner created the first Japanese rental server

company, with a $5,000 loan. Drawing on their

knowledge of local culture and commercial

practices, but not losing their Kiwi selves, they

quickly got their business off the ground. That

success enabled them to buy the rights to open

in Japan a ValueClick, an American internet

advertising company. In only a couple of years,

they grew their online ad business, Japan’s

first, into an ad network and listed it on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange, another first in Japan,

namely, the first company listed by foreigners.

One important lesson Jonny drew from his

21-year business experience in Japan was that

it was crucial to “adapt”, but “not to become”.

Following this “rule”, he and his company had

been able to attract many talented Japanese.

He told the audience that since he moved back

to New Zealand in 2011, he had been working

hard to build his Shuttlerock, a social media

crowd marketing platform, into another global

company. Believing that evolution meant

embracing constant changes, being passionate

and patient, running as fast as one could, and

having some fun, he had built an enthusiastic

and happy team in the company. Together, they

won the 2016 Facebook Innovation Spotlight

award in the creative category.

The stories of Alex Reese and Mr Jonny

Hendriksen made some in the audience wonder

aloud if people of European backgrounds in

general had greater advantage in doing business

in Asia. The two speakers answered that some

Kiwis might indeed find it easier to do business

in Japan or any other Asian countries than

in America or Australia. Yet that was often

because it was so different that one wanted and

had to try harder. They quickly added, however,

that there were many, if not more, successful

Asian companies operating in other countries

of the region. They maintained that if one had

a good understanding of the local culture and

could bring innovative ideas to the table, people

would pay attention. They admitted that the

greatest challenge was learning the language of

the people they dealt with in Asia. Yet the most

rewarding experience was also to work and

make friends with the locals, particularly at the

community level.

In the workshop that concluded the conference,

the participants were invited to share what

they had learned from the speakers. Arising

from the roundtable group discussions was the

consensus that the successful stories presented

by the speakers could be boiled down to

“vision”, “insights”, “initiative”, “leadership”,