Land of opportunity

03 Aug 2023

Anthony Aucutt (9127) has had a fascinating journey from College to Asia, including setting up his own executive search business to meet the varied needs of many industry sectors.

Anthony began living in Asia by chance. Leaving New Zealand on his big ‘OE’ in the late 1980s, he was originally planning to travel to the United Kingdom.

“I booked tickets to travel through Hong Kong and then on to London. But once I spent time in Hong Kong, the affinity and fondness for Asia got a hold on me and I ended up living and working there for two years as chief accountant in NZI Securities Asia’s regional office.

“At that time, China was beginning to open up to the world through its economic policies. I could sense that the sleeping dragon was awakening and it may be a good idea to come to China to learn Mandarin Chinese language and be part of the opportunities that would be associated with the growth and development wave that was rising,” Anthony recalls.

After completing a two-year language programme for foreigners at Beijing University, he initially worked for a property developer who was building a golf course and villas using New Zealand ingenuity in design and building technology.

“I acted as the bridge and contact point, liaising between the Kiwi companies and the Chinese property developer. Once the project was completed, I was approached by the NZ Trade Development Board, or Tradenz as it was named at the time, for a posting as trade commissioner in the Taipei office.”

In 1998, Anthony returned to New Zealand. However, with his invaluable language skills, he was soon offered a job in Shanghai, running the operations of the Shanghai Changfeng Ocean World project.

“Part of my responsibility was to promote the education aspects of marine life and marine environment to schools in Shanghai. We went on to introduce a ‘Dive with the Sharks’ activity where our Ocean World dive masters guided certified scuba divers in the main shark tank where they swam with two and three-metre-long sand tiger sharks, lemon sharks, cat sharks, white, and blacktip sharks,” Anthony says.

Such was its popularity, that it led to the establishment of one of the first dive clubs in Shanghai. After nine years in the leisure and amusement industry, Anthony was recruited by an executive search firm to run its China business.

“I discovered that the actual search and selection side of the business was more interesting than managing the firm, so I decided to gain experience performing the full 360-degree hands-on search process cycle in a European search firm,” Anthony says.

In 2015, he set up his own executive search firm, Sage Business Consulting, serving domestic and international companies in different industry sectors to seek and place management talent for their operations throughout China.

For the past several years, Sage has organised two-month internships for qualified and selected Kiwi university students in host companies in Shanghai.

Anthony eventually plans to return to live and work in Christchurch, where his knowledge of China will no doubt benefit Kiwi companies looking to grow their business in this vast market.