'UC MBA allowed me to uncover my potential and dream big…'
Asia Market Manager, Natural Pet Food Group
Having started off strong in her business career, Grace hopes to one day be a New Zealand Trade Commissioner and ‘bring the best products and services from New Zealand to the world’.
Grace discovered her passion for business with the Business Administration programme (MBA) at UC, following years living in New Zealand and working in the tourism and hospitality sector.
‘I have always felt a big desire for learning the business aspect, and did not know where to start. The MBA course was gratefully recommended by the CEO of Christchurch Casino.
‘The thought was simple, to challenge myself and see how far I could go. It is one of the most challenging things that I have done in my life so far,’ she says.
Originally from Northern China, Grace was able to tailor her studies towards international business relations and tourism management to make the most of her background expertise.
‘The course offers comprehensive learning of key business skills and networking, which opens more doors and leads to unlimited possibilities. The leadership course is very inspiring, and it not just benefits my career development but also my life to a large extent.
‘I also enjoyed the compact learning through the course, the diversity of the class, and the different perspectives from cross-industry professionals which all benefit me to think strategically, gain confidence, and be resilient to whatever life brings. I highly recommend it.
‘More to that, I discovered my calling,’ she says. ‘It brings me joy helping New Zealand succeed doing business in Asia, particularly in China, thanks to the fantastic personal development course.’
The demand of the programme was made easier by Academic Skills Centre workshops, to help her develop professional corporate skills.
‘The Academic Skills Centre was great, I would recommend it to students whose first language is not English or those not quite confident in academic writing,’ she says.
Grace also enjoyed the UC culture and found the MBA staff team very supportive.
‘My first visit to UC was amazing, the campus was so alive and filled with positive energy. What I found amazing was that the staff at UC are very inspiring and respectful, particularly during earthquake time.’
Grace is now working in the FMCG sector and landed a role at the international pet nutrition company Natural Pet Food Group, based in New Zealand.
Natural Pet Food Group is one of the leading New Zealand pet food companies, offering super premium pet nutrition to over 20 countries around the globe.
‘Who would think the pet food sector could be this exciting? We are redefining the natural pet food category and are up against multibillion-dollar companies such as Mars and Nestle, who are dominating the pet food market globally,’ Grace says. ‘The role allows me to utilise the skills and knowledge that I have learned.’
Grace’s role involves driving business performance in Asia with key markets including China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea. The role also involves developing sales and marketing strategies with a key focus on executions at market level, while managing distributor networks and partnerships for suitable growth in the marketplace.
‘The Asian market has been a strong growth contributor for the Natural Pet Food Group over the last couple of years, now representing 30% of total export business. China is performing well with great growth potential. Our premium freeze-dried beef feast product has an eye watering retail price tag of dollar per kilo, as much as the premium NZ beef steak selling in most Asian markets. New Zealand produces some of the best pet food in the world,’ she says.
The Natural Pet Food Group has recently been selected as a finalist of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2018, for the categories of Excellence in Innovation and Medium Business Export.
Looking back on how far she’s come, Grace is proud of her decision to study the MBA and head into a new career direction.
‘People tend to remember the negative things more than others, but we often forget what we have achieved in hard times. As an immigrant, to get a degree, then find a job… these are the real-life challenges that will make you aware of what you are really made of.
‘It reminded me of how much that I have learned and grown since graduating from UC’s MBA. I have been telling myself to never be afraid of falling… but fall forward! Life begins at the end of my comfort zone, and my journey does not end with UC; it’s the beginning.’