One of the first to enrol in our Foundation Studies program, Barry Tse attributes much of his approach to life and business to his experiences at Trinity College.
When Barry Tse completed high school in Hong Kong, his results weren’t quite high enough to get him into university. Barry’s parents offered him a choice: a downpayment on a home in Hong Kong or an investment in an overseas education. He chose the latter.
A friend told Barry about the Foundation Studies course at Trinity College, and from the first time he set foot on the grounds, he was ‘in love with it’. The environment was like a fairytale scene in a picture book, says Barry. ‘I was in love with the architecture, the environment and the atmosphere of the college itself.’
He also found Trinity’s course content appealing. As a teenager, Barry was interested in history and philosophy, so the syllabus of the History of Ideas subject got him excited. Barry says that when he started studying at Trinity it was a completely different world. ‘The amount of analytical thinking and the amount of originality that’s required is much higher [than at school].’ Analysing literature, critiquing and writing essays on philosophy, and applying theories to real world situations was very different to the education system of his childhood. Rather than an emphasis on rote learning, he says, the Australian system allowed students to think and to create.
‘It allowed me to think about how relevant things were to real world situations. I fell in love with the arts, history and culture. That was the most beautiful memory of my one year of study at Trinity.’
After completing his studies at Trinity, Barry went on to enrol in a Bachelor of Education, but quickly changed his mind and switched to business instead. ‘I decided that I wasn’t a mature, stable adult that could teach others. I blame the Trinity course for that because it taught me so much about self reflection and thinking for myself,’ he laughs.
Next, Barry completed a business degree at Ballarat College, majoring in tourism. He undertook humanities-based subjects, and learned about the preservation of historic sites, tourist flow and the traveller experience.
The course involved a six-month internship at Sovereign Hill and, here, Barry realised there was not a lot of information about the Chinese gold miners who formed the majority of gold diggers in the area in the 1850s. However he knew that Asian, and especially Chinese, tourists were interested in this aspect of Gold Rush history. After gathering information, conducting surveys and writing up scripts, Barry came up with the concept of the Chinese gold miners’ village – an element which is now an integral part of Sovereign Hill’s tourism attraction.
After this experience, Barry returned to Hong Kong and accepted a role in a market research firm. In 1995, he migrated to Singapore. ‘It was a risky move’, he says, but he continued working for the same company. Over the next few years he undertook an Asia Pacific role with Nokia before returning to his original employer. In 2000, he moved to Beijing, then Shanghai, because he knew China would become a huge consumer market in the new century, with an equally huge need for market research.
In 2004, Barry realised that if he kept working for big companies he’d always have to meet someone else’s huge sales targets. So he started his own market research company, Wisdom Asia. Barry has been based in Shanghai ever since.
‘I have a philosophical approach to business,’ he says. When he employs people he emphasises that there will not be any sales targets set. He wants an environment that his employees like to work in. He wants a place where they will focus their energy and passion for research, rather than a place where they are constantly trying to meet KPIs. ‘I want a company that is ethical and I like to recruit people who are ambitious about creating a new approach,’ says Barry. ‘I feel good about what I’m contributing to the industry.’
These days, Barry is changing tack a little and has recently completed a Master of Psychology. He wishes to promote mindfulness, using his marketing and psychology skills, to the Chinese Mandarin speaking market. He’s also searching the academic world for a professor who is willing to take on a ‘very old PHD student’ so he can study mindfulness and contemplative science.
‘Trinity had a culture of lifelong learning,’ says Barry. ‘So, Trinity was the beginning of all this.’
By Danielle Norton