Managers Abroad: Ex-pats for NZ Inc

When you leave your country of origin you either embark on journey of freedom/escapism from any identity or you enter into new depth of patriotism. The individual levels of patriotism should never be underestimated for country. New Zealand art on the wall, New Zealand bumper sticker, All Black or Huffer t-shirts, New Zealand icons and photos on your Facebook wall, pavlova and Steinlager at the summer barbeque uniquely opens the world to New Zealand – an opening that is hard to quantify but speaks volumes for our country. It allows the world to access and experience New Zealand – it allows an emotional connection.
Can we actually take that patriotism to the next level and help New Zealand grow economically? Can we open New Zealand to the world and leverage that patriotism? New Zealand has physical beauty and overseas we have physical asset… whole bunch of patriotic New Zealanders willing to help. There just needs to be bridge, way of connecting and platform to help.
So armed with my bumper sticker, my All Black cap, ANZAC biscuit recipe, career at the hub of Steinlager and experience as an expat, I felt ready to bring North America physically closer to New Zealand. As leader for Kea (Kiwi Expat Association) in North America, I am responsible for mobilising an engaged global network for New Zealand – network that feels passionate to help New Zealand now and in the future.
It’s far cry from marketing beer at Lion Nathan to now marketing our country and our people – and we have one million globally to help us along the way. This is the volume New Zealand has – my job is to utilise my patriotism and activate the network to be patriotic New Zealanders again.
We applaud both engaging with New Zealand on impulse and inspired engagement – but the real goal is cultivating our members from involvement to commitment for New Zealand. Multiple touch points, creative thinking, passionate volunteers in strategic cities who lead ‘chapter group’ for Kea, and inspirational members all contribute to making this happen. Networking events showcasing New Zealand business and individuals, crowd sourcing, social media, NZ Inc agenda support and online communication and campaigns fuels the network and the relationship with New Zealand.
It’s not an easy task but incredibly rewarding when the motivations, connections, knowledge and volunteer contributions by the many fantastic chapter leaders around North America lead to specific outcomes for the good of New Zealand. For example, funds raised for Christchurch through multiple events and online programmes, NEW ideas to elevate NEW Zealand through our New York: New Zealand: New Thinking event and government speaker forums attended by Friends of New Zealand.
New Zealanders being part of the global fabric and its weave is the best asset we have. Global New Zealanders are contributing to the new wave of internationalisation for New Zealand.
I am constantly amazed at how passionately patriotic Americans are. They have the biggest economy in the world, through innovation and I am sure big dose of patriotism. Our expatriate Kiwis can play major role in boosting our economy through their connections and knowledge gained. They are patriotic Kiwis who understand what patriotism means to Americans. We can use that to our advantage, so let’s accept that patriotism and ingrain it into our DNA. We can all start on September 9 when the RWC kicks off – shout loud. M

Anna Gestro is member of Kea, New Zealand’s global talent community.

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