Mitsui and the New Colombo Plan building lifelong ties of friendship between nations

21 September 2018

Mitsui & Co. (Australia) warmly embraced the New Colombo Plan from its launch in 2014.

As a New Colombo Plan Business Champion, Wendy Holdenson, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Mitsui & Co. (Australia) is a strong advocate of the program.

“Mitsui wants to make it possible for young Australians to ‘fall in love’ with Asia — specifically with Japan. We are very passionate about what the NCP sets out to achieve and intend to offer our support for many years to come,” Ms Holdenson said.

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Wendy Holdenson with 2016 NCP Scholar to Japan, Kingsley Nguyen, and 2016 NCP Fellow to Japan, Alexander McLeish. Photo supplied by Mitsui.

Mitsui sets a high bar for its support to the NCP Mobility Program. Its immersion programs are packed with industry and cultural experiences for Australian undergraduates.

The company has partnered with Deakin University, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Western Australia, and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), to host 71 undergraduates on NCP mobility programs to Japan.

Mitsui’s support includes transportation, site visits at its headquarters in Tokyo, accommodation, museum entry, and opening and closing receptions. Its support extends to site visits with other companies and senior executives (sometimes the CEO) personally attend and speak at receptions in Australia and Japan.

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2016 mobility program students Rhiannon Nind and Dana Carmichael at Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metals steel mill, Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture. Photo supplied by Dana Carmichael.

The company has hosted seven NCP Scholars to date and looks forward to hosting 12 more mobility students and two more scholars in 2019.

Mitsui is a valued mobility partner for Australian universities seeking to prepare undergraduates with in-depth knowledge and understanding of Japanese business culture and intercultural understanding.

“The Mitsui Immersion program has an impressive track record for supporting Australian students to gain in-depth insights into Japanese culture. It gives students a unique experience within a large multinational Japanese corporation to form professional connections and gain industry relevant experience,” said one partner university.

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Consul General of Japan, Melbourne, Mr Matsunaga; 2018 mobility students: Joel O’Brien, Nathan Irving, James Bell, James Louw, Lousia Han, Katelyn Andrews; Director of Deakin Global Student Mobility, Ben Stubbs, and, CEO Mitsui Mr Noboru Katsu. Photo supplied by Mitsui.

The immersion program is highly sought after by students. It is open to various academic disciplines, which allows the students to learn from one other, deepen their knowledge and understanding of other disciplines, and discover how they can use their combined expertise in group work projects.

Benjamin Terracini was one of the 12 UTS students included in the NCP funded Mitsui Immersion Program in 2016. Benjamin graduated from UTS with a B. Engineering (Mechanical and Mechatronic, Hons). He worked as a trainee mechanical engineer while studying. He secured a summer internship with Komatsu Australia — with Mitsui’s help — and today works at Komatsu Australia as a mining planning and inventory analyst.

Benjamin said, “my decision to apply for the Mitsui immersion program was a critical turning point.  Like a chemical reaction, it led to improving my Japanese, exposing me to the business culture, and my meeting key executives including former CEO Mr Takahashi. Its these opportunities that have led to my position with Komatsu Australia today.”

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At the TEPIA Exhibition Tokyo on Mitsui immersion. Photo supplied by Benjamin Terracini.

Benjamin is keen to tell other young Australians, by speaking at the National Federation of Australia-Japan Societies Conference in October, they should not be afraid to throw themselves into the unknown, to try to learn the Japanese language, and be open to the Japanese culture. The NCP offers many opportunities for them to grow.

Mitsui’s support to the NCP continues a tradition of seeking to build stronger ties and promote mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Australia. The Mitsui Educational Foundation (MEF) was founded in 1971 to introduce Australian students to Japanese culture, history, business, industry, and contemporary lifestyles through an annual tour of Japan and has supported more than 360 Australian students to visit Japan. Mitsui hosts events that bring together alumni from both the MEF and the NCP.

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Rhiannon Nind and Dana Carmichael with Counsellor Mitsui, Masayuki Kinoshita, at a predeparture reception. Photo supplied by Dana Carmichael.
Last Updated: 21 September 2018