There’s nothing more valuable than experience. Throughout my intensive last year of high school, the Young Enterprise Scheme taught me how to run my own business; marketing, management, idea conception and execution - the lot. My greatest takeaway was the value of first hand experience. YES and the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence teamed up to give 10 students (including me) the opportunity of a lifetime filled with valuable experiences we’d never forget.
On a cultural perspective, having never left Oceania, Singapore opened my eyes as to how it feels to be a stranger in another culture. I experienced a different way of life, firsthand, exploring the vibrant markets, riding the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit/“really fast train”), and trying foods a little more adventurous than your good old classic kiwi steak. Although I tried many different dishes, I ended up saving Durian for another time, quickly migrating from the top of my “things to try” list, straight to the very bottom upon initial smelling of the stinky fruit. Singapore was adventurous enough to challenge me without overwhelming me with culture shock because of it’s “melting pot” of ethnicities. It took a while to sink in that Singapore has a very different way of life compared to New Zealand. At the end of the day after working in the big city, you don’t go home to your house in the suburbs or the country. The city is where you live, work, and breathe. Imagining the entire population of New Zealand all smushed into a country the size of Lake Taupō was simply, unimaginable! Yet there it stands, a country with a thriving economy, exceedingly vibrant, and so clean you can eat off the streets. Finding myself placed in an unfamiliar environment caused me to soak up all of the new experiences around me, and it filled me with curiosity. How do you start up a business in the world’s economic hub, swarming with bright-minded entrepreneurs all wanting to do the same thing. How do you cut through the noise and create something that stands out amongst the lights?
Here’s what I learnt; without passion and drive, you can’t. It’s as simple as that - you’ve got to have the guts to take risks, fail, and try over and over again. Throughout the intensive week, we spoke to many different entrepreneurs and businesses. From talking social media and creative arts, to investment schemes and crypto currencies, the spectrum of expertise in different fields amazed me. I remember stepping into the Singapore Facebook office and the WeWork co-working spaces and straight away you got this sense of creativity and community. Every company we visited, every person we spoke to, they all had a different journey to Singapore and big goals at their centre. Singapore is a hub of exceedingly talented individuals with bright-ideas and the will to make big change happen. What impressed me most were not the stunning sky rises, flash interiors, incredible mini-golf, or even the view from the hotel sky lounge which we weren’t meant to have access to. Instead, it was he tangata - the people. Learning the stories of failure and triumph from successful entrepreneurs inspired me immensely. You can be top of the class in all of your subjects, study to fit a prestigious career, know all the numbers of pi up to a thousand off by heart, but what is it worth if you haven’t got a passion for it? Innovation and creativity is something that is fostered in New Zealand, right from the get go in life. It’s something that kiwis are especially good at (besides rugby and cooking mean feed), and it’s recognised on a global scale. I didn’t fully understand the immense value of our ability to think outside the box, until I saw how New Zealanders just like myself are making it big on the global stage, simply for “giving it a go” and aiming big with fresh ideas.
Meeting New Zealand business people in Singapore gave me a sense of excitement for where my future is heading, setting me up perfectly to study a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Arts in Music this year at the University of Canterbury. After experiencing Singapore, I see the interlink between commerce and arts more clearly now and have my sights set on aiming for impact. YES and SEA CAPE were the perfect springboards into my future, having helped me not only set my intent within my degree, but by giving me a more holistic view of enterprise and growing my appetite for new adventures. Going forward, I’m going to put my all into this new chapter. Even if I fail a few times, I know there’s great things ahead - for there’s nothing more valuable than experience.