Young Business Leaders
build ASEAN networks

Melissa Wong 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 entrpreneurs, 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?

This opportunity was of interest to me professionally and personally. Lincoln Agritech, my workplace, are innovators in applied science and technology providing solutions for the primary, industrial and environmental sectors. Lincoln Agritech and Lincoln University often host delegations from Southeast Asia and the wider Asia region to strengthen networks and work on collaborative projects together.

Personally, I have been involved in the YBLI [Young Business Leaders Initiative] programme since its inception and have had the honour of hosting several leaders. It was delightful to meet those individuals again and hear about their latest ideas and projects.

How was the summit relevant to your work?

My current role as business development and marketing coordinator at Lincoln Agritech involves business development, from supporting research at concept stage, managing collaborations and intellectual property, to marketing of technologies. The Summit was great for professional development and was a wonderful opportunity to learn tips, plus hear success stories from leaders themselves.

The ASEAN region is becoming increasingly important and is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner. It was wonderful to learn about business development and entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, create connections, and share my knowledge, particularly in agri-technologies with those at the forum.

Was there a highlight for you? 

Reconnecting with ASEAN YBLI delegates that I met over two years ago. It was wonderful catching up and talking about their personal journeys/personal life and hearing about their businesses and new projects. Some have gone on to accomplish great things and have become CEOs, directors or board members of multiple companies. 

Also meeting other YBLI delegates who are inspiring, talented leaders and savvy entrepreneurs. It was amazing to spend half a week with individuals that are full of enthusiasm, passion and drive.

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

Batu Caves and seeing monkeys there! The ASEAN delegates were unfazed by them as they are common in Southeast Asia, but us Kiwis thought they were such a novelty. Monkey babies are very cute. They are especially curious and I managed to photograph them playing with banana leaves and eating stolen food from rubbish bins.

I also really enjoyed eating new foods from street stall foods like nasi lemak, roti, and traditional Malay desserts and sampling exotic tropical fruit like snake fruit, rambutans, dragon fruit, and longans. I had to ask the street stall lady on how to eat some of them!

Another highlight was attending a group discussion about the TPPA with Hon. Tim Groser (NZ Trade Minister) and Hon. Khairy Jamaluddin (Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports)

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

Yes, definitely. I came home inspired and full of new learnings, take-home messages/ tips, and new awesome new friendships.