Leesa Chen: NCP mobility experience five years after internship in India

New Colombo Plan
Friday, April 24, 2020 - 11:00
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Leesa’s New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Grant ignited her passions for international business and building Australia’s ties with the Indo-Pacific. Five years on from her 2014 NCP Mobility Grant, she continues to benefit from her NCP experience.


Thinking outside the traditional classroom

Through her study of a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of
Arts majoring in International Business and Chinese Studies at Macquarie
University, Leesa Chen first began to understand the importance of the
Indo-Pacific and Australia’s engagement in the region. It was not until 2014
that her eyes and mind opened to the world, when learning about Australia’s
neighbours and trading partners while on an NCP Mobility Program.

Leesa studied Asian Business at The Chinese University of
Hong Kong and learned about different perspectives from the people and places
she encountered every day. She began to appreciate that being in an
international environment is what excites her the most, and that wherever she
goes in the world, she hopes to build people-to-people relationships.

Internship in India

Leesa’s experience in Hong Kong encouraged her to return to
the region and travel to India in 2016. Also under an NCP Mobility Program,
Leesa undertook an internship with Restless Development India, a youth-led NGO
which works to solve the challenges facing young people in their local

On a personal level, Leesa’s time with Restless Development not
only allowed her to build long-lasting friendships, share ideas and connect five
years on, but also helped her develop a new perspective and understanding.

“Working with youth leaders and
some of New Delhi's largest slum networks really showed me the value of
grass-root people-to-people connections. Young people care about sustainable
development and the future of sustainable cities and the challenges that we
face in the region can only be resolved in partnership and in collaboration.”

The experience also helped Leesa understand India’s relationship
with Australia. While she had closely watched India’s economic growth through
her studies in Sydney, being in India showed her how different reality was from
the textbook. She was able to appreciate the importance of Australia and
India's economic and trade relationships and achievements made through
diplomacy, sport, education and trade.

Her experience ignited a passion to pursue international
business and building Australia-Asian ties. Crucial in having the confidence to
do this are the cultural skills and Asia capabilities which she developed through
her NCP experience.


Building partnerships between regional NSW and the

Following her studies, Leesa relocated to Bega in regional
New South Wales to develop ties between regional Australia and the
Indo-Pacific, working as an Export Officer (and later Export Sales & Supply
Chain Subject Matter Expert) at Bega Cheese Limited. In this role, Leesa notes
the NCP helped her develop an ability to see through multiple cultural lenses.
This equipped her with the necessary skills to work with international partners
and distributors across the Indo-Pacific that range from Indonesia to Myanmar,
Singapore, Thailand, Japan, China, South Korea, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Hong
Kong and Taiwan.

“I value many of the
opportunities to bring diversity into traditional industries such as Australian
agriculture and into the rural and regional communities”.

The confidence she gained from her NCP experience continues
to drive Leesa’s career pursuits and her future aspirations in international

Today, Leesa is further developing her business skills to
work in the region. As a Westpac Future Leaders Scholar, she is now studying a Master
of International Business at the University of Melbourne.