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MIP Student Spotlight

Callum Lunjevich 

Callum won the Runner-up Student Project with PikPok and conducted research on Colombian markets. He hopes to be able to work for a company that allows him to work in Colombia in the future.  

What’s your year in university, and what are you studying? 

I am in my third and final year at Victoria University of Wellington studying a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in International Business and Spanish.  

Why did you decide to be a part of the MIP programme this year? 

I decided to be a part of the MIP programme so that I could apply my knowledge of International Business and Spanish to a real-world business scenario. I had sheltered myself from extra-curricular activities during my first two years of study, so I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and apply what I have learned thus far at university – which the MIP programme was able to deliver. Additionally, I wanted to do this extra-curricular programme to increase my employability upon graduation. The MIP programme provided me with industry experience and helped to develop skills needed in every-day business. 

What was your biggest takeaway from MIP about Colombia/Latin America? 

I would say the biggest takeaway from MIP would be how different everyday business is conducted in Colombia compared to New Zealand. Although I have learned about this briefly in International Business, it was amazing to learn how different things such as Sunday being a mandatory day off from work as well as Colombian’s’ attitudes of ‘working to live’ are apparent in Colombia.  

What did you know about Colombia/Latin America before the programme? Anything you learned that surprised you or completely changed your insight? 

Before the MIP programme, I knew a quite a bit of macro level information on Colombia such as its corruption level, GDP per capita, and its current political situation via university assignments. However, what surprised me was how technologically savvy Colombians (especially younger Colombians) are becoming. During my project, I found out that the game development and related tech industries are growing rapidly with numerous game studio start-ups present in Bogotá and Medellin. There is a large pool of fresh game developers graduating from university each semester, so I would not be surprised if Colombia becomes a hub for technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Latin America over the next decade.   

If you had to share one thing about Colombia to New Zealanders, what would it be? 

Colombia is becoming a more prosperous country every day. In particularNew Zealand graduates in game development and related tech fields should search for work in Colombia or if they are entrepreneurial, start-up their own studio. Colombia has a lot of potential, especially in the Latin America region. 

Has MIP and your project with PikPok influenced any of your future plans – professional, personal related to Latin America? 

The MIP programme has made me want to learn more about Colombian values and attitudes as well as how to formally conduct business in the country. I believe that working with Mario, the Managing Director and founder of PikPok, has inspired me to start up my own business in the future and possibly in Colombia, especially after researching the viability of Colombia for PikPok’s project during the programme.  

Victoria Beck 

Victoria did her project with Tuia Group, and has lived in Brazil and Chile. Originally from Germany, she has now lived in New Zealand for 12 years and considers it home. She speaks English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.  

What’s your year in university, and what are you studying? 

Third and final year! Studying toward a Bachelor of Arts- double major in Political Science and Spanish  

Why did you decide to apply to be a part of the MIP programme this year? 

To gain experience and find links to South America that could be useful for my future career.  

Although you’ve had several experiences with Latin America already in Brazil and Chile, what has been your biggest takeaway from MIP that you hadn’t had before? 

I think when I lived in Chile and Brazil (both times as an exchange student), I didn’t really focus or learn much about the business side of things. I’d learnt a lot about the cultures, places and people of both countries but MIP has been eye-opening in a more professional dimension.   

Why Latin America? What made you want to go to Chile and Brazil, and what makes you keep going back? 

Chile wasn’t my first choice of exchange destinations back in 2016, but everything seems to happen for a reason! I had the time of my life while I was living there and at the age of 17, I think it shaped me a lot. I love the Latin American culture- the liveliness and warmth of the people. That and wanting to learn Portuguese as a fourth language was what made me want to travel to Brazil a couple of years later.  

Having so many positive memories and connections to that part of the world makes me want to keep going back, fingers crossed I can combine NZ-Latin America links in my professional future.  

How was the process of learning Spanish and Portuguese? What advice would you give to those who are looking to learn? 

It wasn’t easy, and it took a long time. In hindsight I think I was fortunate to be living with a host family who didn’t speak any English. Despite it being a rocky start it’s definitely what made me learn a lot.  

I think my biggest piece of advice to others who find themselves in a similar situation would be to not compare yourself with anyone and be patient. Everyone learns a language in different ways and at different paces. It can be really discouraging when it feels like your miles behind other people around you.  

Learning Portuguese was much easier once I had Spanish as a base! The two languages have many similarities which made it fun 

If you had to share one thing about Latin America with New Zealanders, what would it be? 

The what I call “Latino mentality”! The value of family and friends is really special. Also, there always seems to be something to celebrate or an excuse to socialize, people in Latin America know how to have fun! 

Do you plan on going back to Latin America? Do you have any future plans either personally or professionally to do so? 

I’m already counting down the days until my flight to Chile! For now, I’m planning to spend my summer visiting friends and ‘family’ in Chile over New Year’s. While these are just holidays, I am eventually hoping to find a job that would allow me to use my NZ – Latin American connections.  For now, I’m planning to do a Masters at Victoria University in Translation and Cross-cultural Communication starting in March 2020.  

 

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Eduardo Youkhana-Diaz 

Eddy did his MIP project with Survive-It, taking a look at Mexican markets and work culture. His mother is Peruvian, and he was able to visit Peru a couple of years ago. Eddy is hoping to learn Spanish and learn more about his heritage in the future. 

What’s your year in university, and what are you studying? 

I am currently in my second year of my study, studying international business and management at Victoria University of Wellington.

Why did you decide to apply to be a part of the MIP programme this year? 

I decided to apply for this programme not just because of getting working experiencebut to get some practical insights on the courses I am currently studying and SMEs engagement in international business. I was really interested in business negotiations, especially between global parties and how the negotiation process is carried out. Engaging with international partners and learning how different cultures engage in business, enticed me to join the MIP programme.   

What was your biggest takeaway from MIP about Mexico/Latin America?  

My biggest takeaway from the programme about Latin America was that there are many business opportunities in Latin America, however many individuals perceive the area as inferior, lacking economic growth and having a substandard business environment.  

If you had to share one thing about Mexico to New Zealanders, what would it be? 

Building relationships is fundamental. Latin Americans do not tolerate long and closed contracts. Showing that you are flexible, wanting to collaborate and complementing the Mexican lifestyle are fundamental and will attract Mexican consumers.  

How do you think New Zealanders could benefit from learning about Latin America?  

New Zealanders could benefit more on how Latin Americans do business, with advocating for strong business relationships and puttting an emphasis on treating stakeholders as close partners and being flexible.      

Has the programme/project impacted you and your personal understanding of your Latin American heritage? 

To be honest, I was born and raised in New Zealand and never had much time or the resources to explore the Latin America culture with my family members in Peru. However, this project has shed light on how the culture in Mexico influences their thoughts and feelings towards themselves. Latin Americans are proud of who they are, proud of their rich history and culture. 

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Victoria Freire 

Victoria Freire is an Ecuadorian native and has been living and studying in New Zealand for the past 2 years. She did her internship with Healthy Start NZ where she helped them with their marketing strategy and reaching out to Spanish-speaking markets abroad.  

What’s your year in university, and what are you studying?  

I am in my third year of Creative Media Production at Massey University. 

Why did you decide to apply to be a part of the MIP programme this year? 

I think is very important to start build up a good business presence & networking before you graduate. I believe, the MIP Student Programme offers you an opportunity to engage with the business world and have a better understanding of it. 

As a Latin American yourself, how did MIP  further strengthen a connection for you between New Zealand and Latin America? 

It showed me a different perspective of Latin America. It was always interesting to hear people talking about certain ways of doing business in some Latin American Countries. MIP made me understand my culture better and the impact of this when doing business with diverse global markets. 

What was your biggest takeaway from the MIP programme? 

The valuable information that was shared with me, including the process and regulations involved in the New Zealand business world. Also, the requirements and skills needed when exporting Kiwi products to international markets. 

When people from home ask you about what New Zealand is like, how do you usually describe it? 

I always promote New Zealand as a very green country. Caring about people & the environment. It is truly the most peaceful country I have ever been to. I found New Zealand very open to every culture, which also makes it very striking for tourists. 

What do you find is the biggest similarity between Ecuador and New Zealand? And the biggest difference? 

The biggest similarity is the short distances between cities, as well as the green landscapes that you get the chance to appreciate when travelling. Sadly, the biggest difference is the crime level and corruption. 

 

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