Seoulcialites: Dr. Tony Garrett, Kiwi Chamber
What originally brought you to Korea and what do you do here?
I arrived in Korea 10 years ago, after taking up an academic position at Korea University Business School. I did not know much about Korea, but I did know the schools here have a great academic reputation, and KUBS is one of the leading ones. I have lived in other parts of Asia before, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, so when I saw an opportunity to take up a contract position at KUBS – I thought why not! After two years I applied for a tenure track position – and that has led me to my current position as Associate Professor of Marketing.
KUBS is a fantastic school within KU. They are truly global, with a number of international faculty, a large number of international students, exchange and regular. Around 65-70% of the program is taught in English. I am regarded as regular tenure track faculty – which is means that I am, for all intents and purposes, integrated!
What’s your favorite thing about living in Korea?
This is not an easy question to answer. There are many things. Generally, I love the people. The people make a place and I have made a great group of friends, both Korean and foreign. I am also lucky to work with a great group of colleagues.
The thing that I love about Koreans particularly is they want to be the best! I think, like many other foreigners I know, sometimes that the way they go about it is not the way we would do it, however I cannot but admire overall tenacity of some of the people I know. This is especially the case among the people I am around every day – my students. They have worked so hard when compared to many of their counterparts in other parts of the world. They are energetic and enthusiastic. This leads to a very dynamic community.
Of course I also love the food, the culture, and history!
What’s your favorite thing about Seoul?
My favorite thing about Seoul, is living in a large cosmopolitan city with many things to do – but with the convenience of a village. I love the fact that I can easily go to a world class show, a music performance, a gallery etc., and have all the amenities of a world class city. I also love that within meters of my apartment building there are small eateries supplying a whole range of delicious local and international foods. I can just pop out to eat or get something without getting into a car. If I don’t want to do that – ask for delivery!
Do you have a favorite memory of your time here?
My favorite memory shows the full measure of Korean people’s hospitality. I remember not long after having arrived in Korea, I was eating alone near my University. I decided to go to a local restaurant and order. A group of locals were sitting nearby and got to chatting with me. They asked me who I was with, and if I would like to join them. Our communication was limited. My Korean was non-existent and their English was marginal, but we managed to communicate. The evening went from eating, to a bar, and then to a norae-bang. It was the first of many great nights to follow – they remain my friends. Although one could say that this not all that special, it was to me, as these people friends did not need to go out of their way for a lonely middle-aged waygookin (foreigner). They did, with no expectations for anything in return. This is a great memory.
Tell us about The Kiwi Chamber and your role as chairman.
The Kiwi Chamber, aka New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea was founded 2008 with the central mission to facilitate business opportunities for New Zealand and Korean companies and individuals by creating support networks that enable them to promote, protect and advance their respective commercial interests in each other’s countries. Post the ratification of the FTA between NZ and Korea, our role has changed to really promoting the opportunities that NZ and Korea provide each country.
My role of Chair is work closely with the Board, Advisors and our Executive Director to facilitate the activities of the Chamber. I can honestly say that I am very lucky to have a very capable and active Board. This makes my life much easier. My key responsibility is to make sure NZ and NZ business in Korea is kept top of mind in all avenues.
What does the chamber offer its members and how does it stand out in Korea?
The Chamber runs a range of events and activities each year. Events such as the annual wine festivals, breakfast forums (Inspire with Innovation Series), workshops and other networking opportunities (Huis) are organized to meet our objectives. The Chamber also works with other organizations on community outreach activities such as Songjukwon Orphanage, a female orphanage (with the ANZ and with the kind assistance of the NZ Embassy and the Grand Hyatt).
Many of the objectives of our chamber match those of others. We work closely with the Australian and other Commonwealth Chambers on a number of events and activities. I like to think that the Kiwi Chamber channels the personality of New Zealand in its activities. We are relaxed and not too hierarchical – we take things seriously, but try not to take ourselves too seriously.
Tell us about The Kiwi Chamber New Zealand Wine Festival. Why is it special and what makes it different this year?
We are holding the New Zealand Wine Festival events on Saturday, May 20 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the beautiful Waterfall Garden of the Grand Hyatt Seoul and on Saturday, June 3 from 6:30pm to 10:30pm in the Grand Ballroom at the Park Hyatt Busan. This year’s festivals, the ninth in Seoul and the fifth in Busan will offer wine-lovers an array of premium red and white wines from around 25 vineyards. More and more wines are being featured at this event, as the wine industry is one which has taken advantage of the benefits of the FTA. NZ is now the 10 largest exporter of wine to Korea and we have seen 31% growth. This means that the wine connoisseur can now more easily find NZ wine. What great events to discover our wine!
This year’s theme is “Wine from the Other Side.” The theme encourages wine cognoscente to take a journey across the equator from the hustle and bustle of Korean big city life to the other side of the world where the air is clean, the water is pure and the wine is exceptional.
We want keep the traditional New Zealand style at both events. The two hotels will offer a first-class New Zealand-themed culinary experience coupled with the finest service, including a superb outdoor BBQ-style buffet in Seoul and exquisite tapas buffet in Busan.
We will also feature lucky draws with many outstanding prizes, including one economy return ticket to New Zealand for each event from sponsor Singapore Airlines.
You can get more information about the events from kiwichamber.com!