INTOUCH: Connecting Kiwis

A Kiwi ex-pat living in the UK so missed his regular intake of Speight’s beer that he wrote to the company expressing his wish for can or two. That connection eventually morphed into “The Speight’s Great Beer Delivery” when whole pub was shipped to London as the basis for building new market for the Southern beer.
It’s great story – and one recently shared with the growing membership of the Kiwi Expats Association (KEA) in the United Kingdom because it’s good example of what the organisation is all about. It shows how much can be achieved through leveraging the links that bind Kiwis working globally both with each other and with the place most ex-pats still think of as home.
That’s both personal and professional mission for KEA’s UK regional manager Anna Groot who left New Zealand (planning to be away about six months) more than 10 years ago and took on her current role in 2007. The intervening years included bar job in Amsterdam, marketing role with Cisco, then travelling Europe with Cirque du Soleil doing sales and logistics work. That lasted couple of years before she returned to less mobile, but equally interesting job in human resources at Greenpeace, later shifting to London to set up and run her own event management business.
Throughout, says Groot, she has always been major advocate of products and talent emerging from New Zealand, at one point working as part of volunteer group promoting the exchange of creative talent between New Zealand and The Netherlands.
“I believe that on the world stage, New Zealanders just need bigger microphone,” she says.
Which is what access to offshore networks helps to provide.
“A lot of what we do is about making introductions – you don’t always know where it is going to lead. It could give Kiwi businesses or individuals more exposure and might lead to more sales. It could involve introducing New Zealander to someone in the network who has contacts or experience that might help them enter particular market. It may be about distribution or even legal issues.”
With membership that has already reached 10,000 – and plenty more room to grow given the number of Kiwi ex-pats in Britain – the association now represents sizeable networking opportunity. And when recession is taking its toll on budgets, networking becomes even more vital for businesses, suggests Groot.
What KEA does can be summed up as “connect, inform and inspire”. It’s about connecting people, keeping them informed about what’s happening in New Zealand and telling inspiring stories – like that of Tim Ellingham – the ex-pat who inspired the Speight’s marketing initiative.
“Our challenge is around promoting New Zealand people and products, getting people together and creating something that is vibrant, edgy and showcase for what New Zealand is all about.”

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