Intern helps Christchurch company crack China market

Taking on an international student for an internship can help propel your company onto the global stage.

When Lincoln Agritech opened their doors to Chinese student Zheng (James) Wang, they didn’t realise that he would end up becoming their China Business Development Manager.

“James’ international agricultural experience and lingual skills made him a pivotal part of our company’s expansion into China,” says Lincoln Agritech CEO Peter Barrowclough.

Barrowclough met Wang through ChristchurchNZ’s Job Ready Programme, which facilitates connections between international students and the Christchurch business community.

Landing your first full-time job fresh out of university is no easy feat, and even more so when English is your second language, so Wang jumped at the opportunity to intern with the local agritech firm during his final year at Lincoln University.

Drawing on his practical marketing skills and experience from his home country, Wang created a masterplan to help Lincoln Agritech further market IRRICADTM world leading irrigation design software into the Chinese market. He spent several months understanding the market for irrigation in China, producing a detailed report, which was later used to target opportunities for selling IRRICADTM in China.

Barrowclough was suitably impressed and offered Wang a fulltime job. Fast-forward to today and Wang and Barrowclough have just returned from a whirlwind trip to China, connecting with distributers and exploring opportunities to market IRRICADTM.

Wang says the internship enabled him to connect with local businesses in Christchurch and leverage his international agricultural experience.

“The internship offered me an opportunity to work on an industry report relevant to the irrigation sector and an opportunity to use my bilingual skills,” he says.

“Lincoln Agritech was looking for opportunities to develop the market for IRRICADTM, in China. They had identified it as a growing market for IRRICADTM and began forming relationships in China in 2014. The Chinese government’s initiative to adopt smart irrigation systems for improving water use efficiency also helped their mission.”

The Job Ready programme is an internship business tool that effectively coordinates and facilitates relationships between Christchurch’s tertiary institutions and the business community, ensuring companies have access to the right talent for their business needs.

ChristchurchNZ Job Ready Project Manager Simon Anderson says taking on international student interns helps local businesses open themselves up to the world.

“Christchurch is home to an amazing tertiary sector and we’re producing some fantastic graduates. This programme helps match employers to potential employees, so we retain this talent in our region,” Anderson says.

Barrowclough says Lincoln Agritech quickly recognised the value Wang’s international experience could offer their organisation.

“Simon gave us a number of quality leads, but James immediately stood out because of his previous experience,” Barrowclough says.

“When I first travelled to China with James we had great success, which only happened because James was able to target the areas where irrigation was important, target the companies, organise the whole trip and help convince them of the value of IRRICADTM,” he says.

The future looks bright for Barrowclough and Wang, with Lincoln Agritech recently announced a finalist at the Westpac Champion Business Awards in the Christchurch NZ Champion Innovation category.

“Christchurch is a city of great opportunities,” he says.







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