Hi Glenn! You graduated from the School of Economics and Management (LUSEM) with a MSc in Management in 2018, what have you been up to since your graduation?
After my graduation, I returned to Taiwan for the compulsory military training and to spend some time with my elderly farmor (grandma). By that time of my life, I had lived most of my formative years away from Taiwan across several different countries. For me, “returning” to Taiwan was just as moving to a new country. Sweden was the last place I lived, so while I was waiting to be called in to the military, I volunteered to help out at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Taipei to find a community and keep myself busy.
Through one of the events, I was helping out at the Swedish Chamber, I met the CEO of the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan who also happens to be from Lund. So, I started working for the European Chamber’s Low Carbon Initiative. Later on, through the recommendation of my former supervisor at the European Chamber, I went to work for the then-Taiwanese Ministry of Science and Technology to help promote Taiwan’s science and technology international visibility and partnerships.
Having also studied and lived in Australia, I got the opportunity to join the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan (ANZCham Taiwan) around two years ago. I’m happy that I get to do what I love to do—connecting the countries I love together. Little did I know, what initially started as a five-month return for compulsory military training turned into a five-year stay.
You work as the Executive Director of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan (ANZCHAM), what does a typical workday look like for you?
The Chamber is a non-profit, non-governmental, member-based organisation that represent and support Australian and New Zealand Businesses in Taiwan. What we do essentially is connect and create opportunities for businesses and people whether that is through events, advocacy, or business introductions. We don’t have a big team, so my job covers both strategic and operational levels. But the beauty is that not a single day of my job is the same. Internally, I ensure the Chamber’s effective and sustainable operation. Externally, I engage with stakeholders and people from all walks of life.
Some days, I will be coordinating with caterer, DJ, performers, hotels, and other sponsors and suppliers to organise cruise parties for more than 200 people for the community to get together, have fun, and network. Some days, I will be organising business luncheons and forums inviting speakers to share the latest business and policy insights and developments relevant to international businesses in Taiwan. Some days, I will be doing business introductions to connect Australian and New Zealand businesses with potential partners and resources within the Chamber’s community and external network.
Some days, I will be facilitating communication between businesses and government offices to advocate for policies that enhance Taiwan’s appeal as a trade and investment destination and champion greater economic cooperation between Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Some days, I will be attending events to build relationships with government officials, media, think-tank scholars, and other business leaders to raise the positive profile of the Chamber and the Australian and New Zealand business community. One of the highlights last year was that I got to meet both the President and Vice President of Taiwan.
In your role, you likely engage with a diverse range of stakeholders, including government officials, business leaders, and diplomats. How do you navigate the cultural and business differences between Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan to facilitate successful collaborations?
I believe in staying open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. When I encounter something unfamiliar, I try to make an active effort to learn about its background and why it’s important to others. To understand where people are coming from helps me connect with them better. No matter their role, whether they’re government officials, business leaders, or diplomats, we all share common goals in life. We all want to be happy, healthy, and successful. To keep this in mind helps me find common ground and work together effectively with people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
But also being open about myself so others can better understand where I’m coming from. I’ve found that being open about my own background and experiences is crucial for building trust and understanding among stakeholders. Throughout my role, I learned to focus on finding common goals and collaborating where we. However, I also try to be open about the difficulties or limitations that we are facing. So that everyone involved could understands the complexities of certain situations. The openness helps to ensure other people know where we stand and work or not work together towards a common goal.
Although it’s not always easy to work with so many stakeholders and sometimes balancing contradicting interests, but the Chamber’s most important asset is our members and the community. There’s a Mandarin saying “隔行如隔山”. It means that professions or industries of expertise are vastly different and distant from one another, even if they are closely related or adjacent. One of the best things about my job is that I get to learn about so many different industries from the top experts and practitioners, and work with so many inspiring and supportive people.
What are the key take-aways from your studies at LUSEM that you find most useful when working for ANZCHAM?
I studied Master’s in Management programme at LUSEM. It’s a special programme where all my classmates were from a non-business background. At LUSEM, I learned to work with people coming from different perspective and working style. But also learned a lot about myself and reflect on the kind of values and leadership I would like to carry out. I think my biggest take away is learning that there’s not a single way of how one should be and things are done. During the programme, we had to write reflection journals about our personal development. I still constantly practice reflection now. It helps me better understand myself and practice to become a better colleague and partner in my work.
Just as importantly, I saw going to university as a way for me to leverage the university’s platform to do and try out the things I wanted to do. During my time at LUSEM, I spent most of my time engaging in extra-curricular activities. I was actively engaged with UPF Lund where I led study trips to Taipei and Brussels; as well as, participated in board work. In some ways, chamber work closely resembles to what I did before, i.e. inviting business and political leaders to speak at events, organising company visits, putting together publications, and of course, working with a board and people who are passionate about the cause.
I think one of the greatest things about Lund University is the vibrant student community and activities. It really showed me the power of community. There are so many community resources out there like mentorship programmes, grants, and events. But most importantly, through Lund, I met some of my best friends I still talk to on a weekly basis today and friends I can call whenever I have questions related to work. That’s why I spend my spare time to help promote Lund and Sweden as a study destination.
You are an active alumnus in Taiwan and serve as chairperson in the Sweden Alumni Network in Taiwan. Tell us more about the network and why Lund University alumni in Taiwan should join!
The Sweden Alumni Network in Taiwan is a Swedish Institute (SI) supported alumni association for people in Taiwan who share study or research experiences in Sweden to connect with each other, build relationships, and stay in touch with Sweden. The Alumni Network is run by alumni, for alumni. The Alumni Network regularly organises various professional and social events to strengthen the alumni community and increase Sweden’s visibility in Taiwan.
The events the Alumni Network organised last year, include snorkeling and ocean conservation workshop, alumni reception, Study in Sweden info session, afterwork drinks, and river boat party. Through the Alumni Network, alumni could access to a global network of Sweden alumni and opportunities to connect with Swedish businesses and other community stakeholders in Taiwan. As well as, be a part of a cozy community of people who share similar experiences and stay in touch with Sweden.
The Alumni Network welcomes anyone who studied in Sweden to join no matter if it’s for a degree, exchange, or research. Of course, I would personally love more people from Lund to join—can’t let the Uppsala influence become too strong! There are many ways for you to engage with us. You can visit www.swedenalumni.tw to learn more about the Alumni Network and how to be engaged. We are always looking for ways to grow and expand the network. Feel free to reach out to us directly!
It is the beginning of 2024, so we are curious, what items on your bucket list do you plan to check off this year?
I don’t have any specific bucket list items for 2024; however, I would like to focus more on the things and people who matter more in life. For starters, I would like to be better at keeping in touch with friends especially the ones who are far away. Additionally, I would also like to visit at least two new countries this year. I find it fun and humbling being in a new place where I don’t understand the language or the culture—I miss that excitement of being a foreigner. Lastly, I would like to do more weekend trips to explore the nature and small towns of Taiwan.