10 December 2018

Studying entrepreneurship for business growth

Linley Boniface

Carson had already founded his own business when he enrolled in the University of Otago’s Master of Entrepreneurship (MEntr) programme.

For Carson Duan, studying entrepreneurship in New Zealand has given him the knowledge and confidence he needs to take his business to the next level.

“The programme was brilliant. It completely changed my way of thinking,” says Carson.

“I can also be sure that I know all the correct and current terminology when I talk to other people in business.”

Carson worked as a software developer in China before moving to New Zealand. He is the founder and Director of DataServe, an Auckland-based company specialising in software development for data extraction.

In 2015, Carson joined the MEntr programme to build on his practical knowledge of entrepreneurship.

The first year of the programme was divided into six papers, each lasting six weeks. Each paper started with a four-day block course in Dunedin, followed by assignments that could be completed off-campus.

Carson was able to attend each block course and then return to Auckland to work at DataServe while completing his assignments.

The second part of the degree involved completing a business incubation report, under the guidance of a supervisor but with no formal classes.

Carson says the format of the programme makes it ideal for people working in middle management in large companies in China.

Companies could send their middle managers to New Zealand for the four-day block courses, and would reap the benefits of the knowledge and skills they brought back with them.

Carson says every one of his six papers would have been useful to people who wanted to develop an existing business or launch their own business.

He enjoyed the style of learning, and was impressed by the standard of teaching.

“The lecturers turned the classroom into a virtual business environment. We were encouraged to do our own thinking and come up with our own opinions. It’s a very good way to learn,” he says. 

Carson says the course changed his mindset by introducing him to design thinking.

It’s a strategy that uses problem-solving, creativity and innovation to design products that meet customers’ needs.

“Design thinking means you’re always thinking about the customer, their behaviour and the way they use your products. It has changed my whole approach,” says Carson.

He was also inspired by a paper on sustainable entrepreneurship.

“When we develop new products in the future, we’ll be looking at their social and environmental benefits as well as their economic benefits.”

Carson believes New Zealand is an excellent choice for Chinese entrepreneurship students.

“Entrepreneurship is very important in China. People are hungry for knowledge about becoming an entrepreneur,” says Carson.

“For Chinese students, studying entrepreneurship in New Zealand would be very useful for their future.”

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About the contributors
Linley Boniface

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.