Asia Savvy 2021


Dinah Towle, Adviser

My role in the University of Auckland is Coordinator for New Zealand Asia Institute. I have been involved with the Asia Savvy conference since its inception in 2011, mostly in the role of project management. I work on development of annual themes and innovating formats for the Asia Savvy annual conference as well a providing administrative support. I enjoy working with an energetic team of students who are clearly passionate about the importance of being Asia Savvy, crafting a topical conference and bringing our audience a relevant, innovative and thought-provoking event.


Kaitlin Outtrim – Committee Co-Lead

I am a lifelong resident of Tāmaki Makaurau, where I’ve had access to Asia via the food, culture and the people of Aotearoa’s most diverse city. I began studying Japanese language in high school and have continued my passion through a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese. My interests have extended further into the market and political issues of the greater Asian region by also studying a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business and Marketing. I have previous ties to the New Zealand Asia Institute, Asia Savvy’s supporting organisation, from my time spent as a research assistant and Summer Research Scholarship student, where I studied the impact of APEC in the Asia-Pacific. Although the effects of COVID, such as travel, may seem like a barrier to how students in Aotearoa can best engage with Asia, we’ve learnt that it’s possible to stay connected even at a distance. I am excited about this year’s theme of resilience as it provides important lessons for students’ current academic and future professional careers.



Sanika Jain, Communications

I am an international student from India, currently pursuing my Master of Marketing from the University of Auckland. Prior to my journey to New Zealand, I have completed my bachelor’s in International Business. In addition, I have also completed a research methodology project which puts light on the Export and Import of MNC. As an IB student, I was always interested learning about different cultures and working in a culturally diverse team. In a former Office Assistant role, I worked on social media management and multi-tasking. I am passionate about painting, dancing and enjoy playing basketball. I look forward to being part of this year’s Asia Savvy committee.

Mai Pham, Asia Savvy Lead

I am working as a Doctoral Researcher and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Auckland’s Marketing Department. Before coming to New Zealand, I had ten years of working experience as a project manager and operations manager for a renowned think-tank in economic and policy in Vietnam. I then had opportunities to travel to different parts of the world for conferences and field studies. Coming from a vibrant economy in Asia, with a profound love for Asian rich and diverse culture, I am excited to be the Project Manager for Asia Savvy 2022. Working with students and young professionals has always been my great pleasure and source of motivation. I believe that being authentic and positive is the key to goal achievement.

My role at the Asia Savvy 2022 involves developing of symposium theme and agenda and working with the student team to have the event organization up and running. I look forward to meeting diverse participants and engaging in meaningful and thought-provoking discussions at the conference this year.  


Shisla Macleod, University of Auckland, Committee Co-lead

Having moved from Brazil to New Zealand when I was thirteen, I have always been passionate about diversity and collaboration. My intense interest in Asia started years ago, when I spent a few months travelling throughout South East Asia. Throughout my Bachelor of Commerce, my relationship with the region deepened, as I studied different economic policies and business strategies across Asia. I now work as a Research Assistant at the University of Auckland, and my work is particularly centred around China, Japan, and South Korea. Some of the projects I have worked on include workshops for ExportNZ and North Asia CAPE, as well academic papers on digitalisation and resilience.

Having participated in past Asia-Savvy Symposiums, I am thrilled to be a part of the Asia-Savvy Committee. It is exciting to work with such a passionate and dedicated team on a topic that is so relevant at this moment in time. I look forward to meeting you and engaging on some constructive and thought-provoking discussions.


Wilson Chen, University of Auckland, Registrations/IT Officer

I was born in mainland China and have recently, as of 2019, arrived in New Zealand as an international student. Prior to my journey to Aotearoa, I was an admitted lawyer in the People’s Republic of China and have an abundance of judicial experience working as a Court Clerk and Assistant Judge. I hold a J.M. (Juris Masters) from 北京大学 (Peking University) and an LL.M (with Distinction) from the University of Auckland. I am also currently working on a certificate of proficiency in preparation for being admitted as a lawyer in New Zealand. With my broad legal and social understandings, I am dedicated to fulfilling my role as the Registrations/IT officer for the 2021 Asia Savvy Symposium and to contribute my unique experience to the diverse communities of New Zealand.

Deepika Jindal, Project Manager

I am a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland’s Graduate School of Management. I earned my Phd in May 2018. My thesis focused on the impact of implementation of human resource management (HRM) practices, by the supervisors, on work engagement, job crafting, and job performance of the employees. Prior to my doctoral studies, I have worked for a large Indian manufacturing conglomerate (Trident Ltd.) for around 10 years in the HRM area. I have been working at the University of Auckland Business School since February 2014, on various courses related to business, general management and HRM. I have also been involved with various research projects related to HRM and organisational behaviour in the past years. I am the project manager for the Annual Asia Savvy conference (2019). My role is to manage different activities related to the conference, provide support to the committee and organise sponsors/speakers. I look forward to meeting a diverse set of participants at the conference and engage in meaningful discussions around this year’s theme: building a successful career in the Asian century.

Nancy Guo, Communications Lead

I am a Chinese New Zealander, born and raised by immigrant parents in the culturally colourful and diverse city of Auckland. I am currently studying English and History at the University of Auckland – two areas that are both interests and strengths of mine. I am also currently the Marketing Executive for the Kiwi Asian Club – one of the University of Auckland’s most active and largest student clubs. The club has actively worked towards promoting diversity and culture amongst the student population for the last 20 years. I am excited to utilise and further enrich my communication skills and passion for Asian culture through being a part of the 2021 Asian Savvy Committee! 

Lydia Joyce, Victoria University of Wellington

Lydia is a British Singaporean who has made windy Wellington her home. One of her favourite things about New Zealand is that it’s such a melting pot of diverse people. She wants to help to make new cultural experiences even more accessible to everyone through her involvement in Asia Savvy this year. Lydia has both studied in Japan and worked in China. She can’t wait to share some of the cultural lessons she has learned from those experiences. Currently Lydia is studying for a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Music, so her passions span across a variety of disciplines. The arts are an excellent starting point for anyone to learn more about a new culture – the rabbit hole only grows deeper from there!

Thomas Sayers, Ambassador, University of Auckland

I am a Master of Marketing candidate at the University of Auckland. I graduated from the University of Canterbury in 2020, majoring in political science and international relations and Chinese. My undergraduate research projects explored Chinese foreign policy, ASEAN’s role in Southeast Asia’s development and New Zealand’s place in Asia. I am deeply interested in international relations; since June 2020, I have been actively engaged with the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, first in Christchurch and now in Auckland. I represented the Christchurch branch of the U.S. Embassy Youth Council from 2019-2021.

I am internationally-minded, having lived for extensive periods in Macao, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Outside of my studies, I work virtually with international professionals to assist them with English language learning. As most of my clients are based in Asia, my work gives me opportunities to appreciate how interconnected we are to the region.

I believe the Asia Savvy symposium is very timely, and I look forward to meeting everyone in September!


Jason Liu, Ambassador, University of Auckland

Hey everyone! My name’s Jason, and I’m currently in my final year of a Bachelors in Mechatronics Engineering (Hons). Although both of my parents are Chinese, I was born and raised in New Zealand. Because of this, I’ve always felt a disconnect from my home country and am often conflicted over my identity; am I fully Chinese or fully Kiwi? I know this is a struggle that a lot of New Zealand born Asians face too. The Asia Savvy Symposium shines light on this struggle, and on the implications of it beyond mere personal feelings. It demonstrates the importance of understanding the different cultures that exist in our world, allows opportunities to do so in various fields, and even though it will be an intense day, it’s an event really worth participating in. Putting effort into understanding the people around us is something that everyone can and should do regardless of who they are or what they do. With all that said, I am excited for the journey ahead as an Ambassador for the conference, and I hope to see you all there!

Marina Hay, Ambassador, University of Auckland

Kia Ora! I’m Marina, and I was born and raised up in Auckland’s far north, where I had a very classic kiwi upbringing! My interest in Asia began when I was 16, and was very lucky to get the chance to travel around both urban and rural areas of Japan with my Grandma. Following this, my interest in Asian cultures, politics and economies has continued to grow, and I’ve been privileged with a number of great learning opportunities, as being a part of Asia Savvy will be!

Recently I’ve begun a conjoint degree in Economics, Political Science and International Business. While I have a particular interest in the New Zealand economy and our local politics, I believe there is a great deal to be gained from continuing to strengthen our relationships with Asian nations. This is especially relevant today as we all must begin to make changes in a combined effort to combat global warming. I am very excited to be a 2021 ambassador for Asia Savvy and I look forward to meeting you all soon!