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Feb 04, 2019

Singapore Reflection - Nicola Jury

Overall from the business challenge I gained more confidence in myself and have found more excitement and passion going forward into the business world!


At the start of the trip I only had a rough idea about what I wanted out of it and what I was expecting to experience. But I didn’t realise just how much I was going to learn about business in New Zealand and Singapore as well as myself. 


Singapore is an island that has developed into a place perfect for many starting up companies, giving us New Zealanders great opportunities there. I love the range and multicultural life in Singapore along with the innovative architecture and use of space. Even though Singapore is lacking in free land like New Zealand has, they make up for the greenery with all the trees around the streets and in the buildings. I like to think of it as a city within a jungle. 


The first things I noticed when coming into Singapore:

  • The amount of cargo boats in the sea which shows how big exporting and importing is in Singapore.
  • The amount of tall buildings. When declining down to Changi AIrport on the plane you could see the amount of tall buildings which just about go all the way up to the sea line!
  • Of course the heat, it was hot but it was more the fact that it was so humid. Without NZ’s fresh breeze I found the change in humidity something I had to get use to. 



Our first day we were joined by some of the Singapore students and went out in the wakas. The beaches compared to NZ were so much smaller but also had so many more trees near the sea. Not only that but the water was the perfect temperature, not too cold or hot. It felt as if we were in a resort.


While in the waka we were able to appreciate how beautiful Sentosa Island is but at the same time we were exposed by the amount of rubbish in the sea that most likely comes from the number of cargo boats.


While paddling in our waka groups I took away the importance of working in sync and together to make things go faster and smoother. Also a good way to get to know what your teammates were like under competition. 


That same day we went to Haji Lane, and on our way there through the MRT we stopped by a fruit shop to try some of their local produce. I loved the fruit they had in Singapore, I would of wanted to try it all!


It was good to be shown by those who knew what they were doing on how to work out the MRT. Since I had no experience with underground train systems, it was good to do it in a group so that now I should know what I am doing. 


Haji Lane had an awesome atmosphere in the stores/cuisines as well as on the actual street with the live music. It was quite the cultural experience having greeters of the different restaurants inviting you to try their menu along with the sound of the live music, smell of the food, the decor and little stores/cuisines. 



On our second day we we went to GEMS World Academy International School and joined the business class. Being in their business class was a fun experience, we were able to see just how similar or different the teachings were and got to know the local students well. 


We also got to do a workshop with Tracey Hamilton which I came away with feeling like I had found out more about myself. I discovered that I need to be involved in a business that has more of an impact on improving businesses or people’s lives. 


The boat cruise was a great way to see Singapore and see its innovation through architecture and use of space. The combination of the architecture of the Museum, Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay was an amazing sight. Just like from the movie Crazy Rich Asians, which we basically all watched in the plane on the way over. 


At the ef.demo day it was impressive to see how much these companies had developed in just a few months. The program seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. 



The 3rd day we heard so many different people speak, which gave me a greater understanding of Singapore life and business. It also got some business ideas flowing and have come up with some that the speakers inspired which i want to look into.


Sam Gibb was one of the speakers that gave us insights and understanding of the importance of the right investors which is something that I will definitely apply to in the future. 


From the day of visiting and hearing different speakers, the main things I took away was how well Singapore is established for businesses to start up there. As well as the importance of the right investors and that it is better for your business to die fast than to die slowly. 


Going to Chinatown was an amazing cultural experience! Having learnt a bit of mandarin I was able to use it a little to speak to one of the locals that worked in the restaurant we had dinner in. This was so cool, being able to speak a little bit of one of the local languages other than english made me feel like I was truly in a different place in the world.


The food there was also delicious and the atmosphere was very lively as the decorations were all set up for Chinese New Year! 


The virtual room was an awesome experience! It was not only fun but great way to get to connect with your team as we had to work together in order to accomplish the tasks. 


On our way back we found a Turkish Ice Cream stall. Most of us got some of their stringy ice cream but the best part was how the ice cream played tricks while putting it together and giving it to you. 



We went to go visit Facebook on Wednesday morning to hear them speak along with several other companies. It was great hearing from the range of different companies that were based in Singapore and seeing the cool building that Facebook worked in. 


At the 90 Seconds office we were able hear a few other companies speak about their companies. But I found I took a lot away from Tim Norton (Co-founder and CEO of 90 Seconds) as I found he had a lot of great things to say about being an entrepreneur and starting up a company. 


The game of mini golf at Holey Moley Golf Club was very unique, creative and a lot of fun. Then having a hot pot dinner was such a cool cultural experience, which wasn’t only fun and interactive but tasty! 



Thursday was a pretty intense day of brainstorming and having to push ourselves to stay focused on our work in order to create a company within basically 24 hours. It was a great learning experience from just the first 12 hours of the business challenge. 


I learnt a lot about how I work under that much pressure and also how much I can achieve within a team, in such a short amount of time. It was a good challenge to test our innovation and business skills as well as how we work in a team. 



Pitch day! After handing in the business plan which we worked late in the night for and most of the morning, I realised just how much we managed to achieve in a short time frame. The pitches were something us NZ students were well prepared for, but it was probably a great experience for the Singapore students who had not done something like it before. The 7 minute question time was a good way to test how well we had thought through our company and product. 


Overall from the business challenge I gained more confidence in myself and have found more excitement and passion going forward into the business world!


This whole trip was filled with amazing memories, learnings, experiences, and of course connections! So grateful for being one of the lucky 10 New Zealand students and would do it all over again if I could! Can’t wait for the future and hope Singapore is part of it.


Thank you Southeast Asia CAPE and Young Enterprise for getting me to Singapore, to the all the awesome students who came on the trip and of course to our amazing chaperones!