Young Australians who spend time in Asia on university exchange are sometimes unsure how to utilise their new cultural and language skills upon returning home. It is easy to be Asia-engaged when an educational institution or other organisation is willing to pay for you to study overseas. But what about when those opportunities are not available?
Recently, I spoke with entrepreneur Brittany Arthur about how she is taking responsibility for creating her own career in Asia and across the globe.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Brittany.
I’ve spent the last decade travelling the world to find out what people want from a career and discovered that when it comes to the world of work, everything, that is everything, has changed except human nature. People are happier and healthier when they are engaged in their work. Through my work at beliefXchange I strive to bring industry related projects to international professionals living abroad.
What is your involvement with Japan?
In 2008, I received an academic merit scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education to study a double bachelor of International Business and Japanese Language. During my studies, I went on to intern at the Australian Trade Commission in Osaka and after graduation I began working with Fortune 500 companies in Japan, co-ordinating their expatriate programs.
Every day in my work, I saw the potential of innovation in helping bring different people together. I began wondering, why such a proven method for innovation is not accessible to all businesses. Why was it that your innovation potential and engagement of your employees was dependent upon whether you had an international subsidiary? Surely there is an alternative.
That was until March 2011, when we experienced the most devastating earthquake in Japan’s modern history. All foreign contracts were terminated and I was evacuated to Australia. Shortly afterwards I went to Berlin, Germany, where I studied as a scholar of the Rotary Foundation. After three degrees in three countries I figured it was time to brand and package my experiences in a way that I can help others and make a living. Today, I run my company beliefXchange in Germany, which helps businesses reach their full potential by engaging with global talent through business exchange.
How does beliefXchange keep you connected with Japan?
BeliefXchange aims to bring the international networks of transnational corporations (TNCs) to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). One of the major challenges facing SMEs is their ability to attract and retain talent in a market where millennials (Gen Y) are interested in jobs that allow them to gain experience working overseas. I help to connect industry partners in Japan, Australia and Germany to facilitate the short term transfer of personnel. In effect, it is like a business exchange program.
In what ways do you think Australian SMEs are currently missing out on opportunities in Asia because of a lack of Asia literacy? (e.g. premium boutique wine makers failing to identify export opportunities)
This is so funny you bring up wine – I wrote an entire business case in 2008 for a South Korean company to import Australian wine. I could give you 10,000 examples of industries which are working nowhere near their full capacity simply because they have not invested in understanding our Asian neighbours. However, the biggest disservice is actually to their Australian employees; by not having Asian partners, which stems from a lack of Asian literacy, they are not giving the employees the chance for innovation that diverse working partnerships can bring.
How useful have you found your Japanese language skills in your career so far?
Learning Japanese has helped me not only learn German but it’s helped me become more creative in my English. More than anything, learning Japanese has taught me how to think differently and communicate my message more sensitively.
What in your opinion are the key opportunities for young Australians to engage with Japan?
The key opportunity for young Australians is to capitalise on the emerging new businesses in Asia which are looking to attract international talent; especially, English speaking talent. The ‘how’ however, is another question. Today, the JASSO scholarship and kopra.org website are two resources I’ve successfully used.
Want to learn more about Brittany and beliefXchange?
Check out Brittany’s video blog on successful networking techniques for foreigners in Japan
Interact with Brittany on Twitter: @_brittanyarthur
Connect with Brittany on LinkedIn
Watch Brittany on YouTube