Business leaders forge
friendships at KL summit

Luke Rikiti was one of ten young New Zealand business leaders who explored business opportunities and built networks with nearly 40 Southeast Asian counterparts at the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Summit in Kuala Lumpur recently.

In Kuala Lumpur, the delegates heard from successful entrepreneurs, CEOs and innovators as well as Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin.

The delegates also heard from New Zealand’s Minister of Trade, Tim Grosser, who was in the country for a trade mission. The Asia New Zealand Foundation organised the summit as part of the activities celebrating the 40th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between New Zealand and the 10 nations that make up the ASEAN block.

Why did you want to partake in the summit?

The summit brought together entrepreneurs who have a common interest in further developing the business and trade relationships between New Zealand and the ASEAN nations.  

The reason I applied to participate in the summit was because I have been focused on developing my understanding of Asia for the past 10 years with a particular focus on cross-cultural intelligence and business relationships. The summit for me was an opportunity to share in the entrepreneurial spirit, to share my story and the New Zealand Maori culture and to connect with like minds in a setting that feeds creativity and innovative thinking.

How was the summit relevant to the work you do?

I am the Commercial Manager for our iwi commercial arm, Te Arawa Fisheries Limited.

The YBLI initiative brought together leaders in a number of business sectors and industries, which I found enriched the diverse nature of the summit. I was able to connect and talk with people about business opportunities relating to both of our interests. One friend from the summit is interested in fish frames for his pet food business and another friend, keynote speaker Nanogirl aka Dr Michelle Dickson, has discovered how to make collagen out of fish waste. Moreover, I was able to undertake some market research for potential exporting opportunities for our seafood.   

Was there a highlight for you?

One of the highlights for me was participating in a value-based exercise facilitated by Alice Canton. Alice got the group to write down on post-it notes our top five values and then place them in order of importance from one to five with one being your strongest personal value.  At the end of the exercise you were put into groups depending on your number one value.

I found this exercise very difficult but rewarding at the same time as it gave you an opportunity to evaluate what drives you and what is important to you when making decisions. I was in the ‘courage’ group and it was interesting to hear other people’s perspective on this value because we all had a different story to tell but we had the same value.  I believe enduring relationships are built on a share value system and I found this exercise very powerful.

Did you do anything else of interest while in Kuala Lumpur?

During my stay in Kuala Lumpur I visited the Central Mall markets, a heritage site, which is located a few minutes away from Petaling Street, a well-known shopping district.  I found it interesting how well developed and savvy these markets are particularly compared to other parts of Southeast Asia.

I also walked through the underground thoroughfare from our Hotel, the Grand Hyatt to the Twin Towers.  It was great to be in an air-controlled environment moving around the city and the Twin Towers is an amazing architecturally designed building.   

Did you get what you hoped to get from the summit?

The summit exceeded my expectations. As well as having the 40 plus top entrepreneurs from New Zealand and ASEAN, we had the pleasure of senior diplomats and government officials drop-in on the summit to show their support for this initiative. One of my aims was to reconnect with YBLIs that I had met and spent time with in Rotorua, while on the other hand I wanted to expand my business network and build deeper relations with those that shared common aspirations. To my delight I achieved both of these.