It has been a ten-week journey for Sia Fatu of Samoa and Shulei Andrew-ToGuata of PNG who undertook a Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) summer internship with Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand in Auckland.
With a couple of weeks left to go, Ms Fatu and Mrs Andrew-ToGuata reflected on their time at PTI NZ, on what they learned and what they will take away from the experiences they’ve had. Here’s what they said in an interview with Pacific Periscope:
PP: Can you describe your experience in the office over the past few weeks?
Sia Fatu: It has been a good learning experience working with the PTI team over the past few weeks. Without any notable working experience beforehand, this opportunity has provided valuable insight for me into the NZ working environment. I have also been inspired by PTI’s work with our Pacific Island countries, malo lava!
Shulei Andrew-ToGuata: The initial half of the internship was quiet and gradually became busy toward the Christmas break as logistics for the Pacific Path to Market Mission were being initiated. The occasional client meeting and diplomatic events were exciting as I had the opportunity to meet in person the people behind Pacific business brands such as Mena as well as meet and network with prominent stakeholders within the region –such as the High Commissioner to PNG, Sue Mackwell, the PNG Consul General, Dr Peter Goldsmith, the New Zealand PNG Business Council Chairman, Tamati Norman to name a few.
The new year has commenced with both feet on the ground running as PTI works toward finalising details of the Pacific Path to Market Mission. This involves liaising with the local Economic Development Authorities (EDA) in each forum country, the Trade Development Managers in-house and regional companies that will participate in the programme. Additionally, a lot of effort has been put into work behind the scenes with organising event logistics for the inaugural PTI Village in close collaboration with ATEED. This is a first for PTI and something we are looking forward to showcasing Pacific businesses.
PP: What were your expectations at the start?
SF: At the beginning of the internship, I was very open-minded and wanted to learn as much as I could. I had various goals or objectives when I initially applied for the internship. This included: improving interpersonal and leadership skills, becoming more self-confident and proactive, problem solving, and technical skills like data analytics, creative and critical thinking, and others.
SA-T: I was not sure what to expect but I was motivated to deliver to my best knowledge and ability whatever task was assigned to me.
PP: How if any of your expectations changed since your time here?
SF: When I look back, I can’t believe I thought 10-weeks would be enough to cultivate all these skills! Therefore, my expectations did come to change over time and I became more focused on being organised, communicating better, managing my time wisely and learning to be more proactive in certain situations.
SA-T: Being involved in organising an aspect of the Path to Market programme has made me appreciate the scope of work PTI NZ does in the Pacific region.
PP: What were some of your main learnings from the internship?
SF: Through tasks assigned I have learnt to become better organised and to work to deadlines. I have realised the importance of being accountable to yourself or to someone and ensuring that you’re working on tasks that will add value to whatever project(s) or processes the office is currently undertaking. I also came to realise the significance of being a good communicator – whether it be through email or having a one-to-one conversation – effective communication with your work colleagues and clients is key!
SA-T: Some of my main learnings from the internship include:
- I realise that there is not much awareness of PTI NZ in Papua New Guinea
- There are potentially successful businesses that do exist, are registered with the local EDAs and are not captured and included in the local workshops i.e. the growing fashion industry in PNG (Wantoks Design, PNG Kala, Baiwa, etc)
- Be open and willing to learn new things. This makes adapting to the work environment and jobs more interesting.
- The workshops conducted within each forum country provides necessary information for SME businesses.
- There is room for a lot of improvement with the local cooperatives in Papua New Guinea to be actively involved in local business development and overseas engagement.
PP: What impact if any has the internship had on your career in future?
SF: I believe this internship with PTI will have a significant impact on my future career. Especially seeing the work that PTI does to promote the development of Pacific Island businesses, I am very motivated to return home to do my part in helping out with the development of my country.
SA-T: I believe that the internship has given me insight to what is expected of successful SMEs that are export-ready. Additionally, if I am unable to secure a job upon return to Papua New Guinea, I hope to be able to continue the family venture with the eco-tourism bungalows or start up a business of my own.
PP: Would you recommend PTI NZ’s services to others?
SF: Definitely! Especially to smaller, export-potential or export-ready businesses back home in Samoa (or anywhere in the Pacific). PTI’s services would be a great help to them.
SA-T: Yes, I would. I already have started informing people in my circle who have inquired about business ventures and business opportunities abroad about the work of PTI NZ.