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Event Recap - ACBC Rio Tinto Millennials China Initiative Student Engagement Roundtable

02 March 2017

ACBC Victoria launched its ‘ACBC Rio Tinto Millennials China Initiative’ with a student engagement roundtable held on 2 March at International Chamber House.

The event was designed to inform students in years 11 and 12 about trade with China, with an emphasis on Victoria, and help them learn about exciting, innovative businesses already engaged in the China market. It created a forum to ask questions and to be given insight into the possibilities of a career based on the opportunities offered in the many and varied sectors engaged in trade with China.

The proceedings began with a welcome from ACBC Victoria CEO, Ms Virginia Birrell, who provided an overview of the initiative and plans for the day. This was followed by an address from National President, The Hon John Brumby AO who spoke of the seismic economic transformation underway in China, the rise of the middle class and Chinese investment in R&D.

Chair of ACBC Victoria’s Education & Training Working Group, Professor On Kit Tam then briefly addressed students, stressing the luxury of choice that are fortunate enough to have, and encouraging them to stay informed and curious about the opportunities that China presents.

The roundtable continued with a panel discussion among Mr Zhining Yang, Senior Manager, International Investment – China & Hong Kong, Invest Victoria; Ms Jasmine Lim, Director Incentives and Corporate Meetings, Melbourne Convention Bureau; and Mr Eric Gao, Founder and Managing Director, BMYG. Topics covered included the future of the Australia-China trade and investment relationship, ways to foster connectivity between the two countries and entrepreneurial opportunities for young people.

Mr Jon Burgess, Founder and Director of KWAN, then provided insight into the importance of authentic and strategic networking. He emphasised the need to be generous, curious and conscious when creating networks.

Following a break for morning tea, Ms Rulla Asmar, Architectural Graduate, ThomsonAdsett spoke about her firm’s world-leading design and technology work in China – highlighting projects in the senior living and health sectors. The discussion then progressed to eCommerce as Mr Isaac Huang, Government Relations Manger, China, Swisse Wellness spoke of the various eCommerce channels utilised by Swisse including Taobao and Tmall, the role of daigou and the company’s launch into Chinese stores.

The afternoon session began with a conversation and Q&A between Mr Ben Mitchell, General Manager, External Affairs and Communications, Rio Tinto Australia and Ms Phoebe Tan, International Manager at Engineers Australia. Topics covered included the role of the Victorian services sector in supporting the mining industry, the future of jobs in these sectors in the face of automation and advice for pursuing careers in the fields of mining and engineering.

Mr David Olsson, China Practice Consultant, King & Wood Mallesons, was then welcomed to discuss opportunities for scholarships under the New Colombo Plan. This was followed by a presentation from Ms Rosita Dalla Rosa, Manager, International Engagement, International Coordination Office, Trade Victoria, DEDJTR, who spoke about the Victorian Government’s focus on building Asia Capabilities and the Hamer Scholarship program.

The day’s proceedings concluded with a panel discussion among ACBC Victoria’s part time staff, Whitney, Alex, Hugh and Shaun, who provided insight into what they are studying, the impact that travel to and study in China has had on their career decisions and what advice they would give to the students in attendance. 

We extend a warm thanks to ACBC Victoria State Partner and ACBC National Sponsor, Rio Tinto Australia, for their sponsorship of the event. We also kindly thank all the speakers for their time and expertise. Finally, we thank the students and teachers who were in attendance for their engagement, questions and contribution to discussion. ACBC Victoria will be holding more events related to this initiative in the future. For more information and opportunities for engagement, please contact us at or on 03 9027 5606.

To view photos from the event, please click here.