Author Archives: Sonja Bobrowska

13 June 2014 - 1:33 pm On Letting Go and Moving Forward

I’m not fond of goodbye posts and evaluations so I’m leaving you with some of my final thoughts on what I learnt at the University and at the USE. Perhaps it’s not cheerful enough but I hope it makes you think. I won’t be offended if it’s not for you. Go out and enjoy the sun instead.

Continue reading “On Letting Go and Moving Forward” »

23 May 2014 - 12:30 pm Venture in East Asia | Conclusion

Venture in East Asia happened over two weeks ago but people still come up to me and tell me they enjoyed it very much. Quite a success, I’d say.

In the end, we heard talks from four guest speakers: Dr Zhang from the School of East Asian Studies, Joanna Lavan from Connect China, Gregory Sutch from Intralink who was accompanied by Hannah Jackson from Intralink as well, and Chenglu Li, our International Students Enterprise Intern. Continue reading “Venture in East Asia | Conclusion” »

26 April 2014 - 2:37 pm Venture in East Asia

This coming Thursday, 5 pm on May 1, the USE will host a one-time only event that I organized as the Student Intern here.

I came up with the idea to organise this event because I wanted to combine the two things that I am most passionate about – Japan (my major is Japanese Studies) and entrepreneurship.Venture in East Asia is a gateway for all students that recognise the importance of the East Asian region in the current global economy and are interested in doing, or even, starting a business in East Asia.

While a few years back most news headlines talked about rising China, the reports now turned to sounding alarm about the effects the rapid economic rise has had on the environment. In Japan’s case, reports about its ageing population keep on popping up now and again, and together with Japan’s staggering debt level, they paint a negative future for its economy. In both of these cases, one could conclude that it’s best to stay away from those countries as their economies have stumbled and slowed down. However, for entrepreneurs, these problems are genuine business opportunities. This is the true starting point for Venture in East Asia.

Leaflet for Venture in East Asia, business event at the USE

Feel like the whole world is your stage? Check out East Asia, it’s the place to be right now for all budding entrepreneurs!

In order to make this event as beneficial to you as possible, I have invited a number of guest speakers who will be speaking to us about various aspects of starting and doing business in East Asia –  Gregory Sutch from Intralink Group, Joanna Lavan from Connect China and professor Zhong Zhang from the School of East Asian Studies at the UoS. Among them, Mr Gregory Sutch is an alumnus of the University of Sheffield and is now the CEO of Intralink Group, a company providing market access and business development strategies for China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Greg graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1993 from Japanese Studies and Geography and after a couple of years of work experience in different industries (among them, the JET programme), he arrived at Intralink in 1996, which was then a small one-man company. He helped set up the company’s Japan operations and after a couple more years, he arrived at the position of the CEO of Intralink Group. He is now based in Oxford.

When I got a chance to speak to him on the phone, he had just returned from a business trip to the Silicon Valley. I decided to ask him about the business opportunities now available in China and Japan but without revealing too much from what he has prepared for us at the event.

What surfaced time and again in our conversation was that the problems that I have mentioned above are what drives most business in the region these days. The two booming sectors at the moment are healthcare and environment. And British companies have an edge in each case. In terms of healthcare, the UK is the world’s biggest health services employer and that is a huge advantage for companies setting up their operations in Japan, for example. Many times when thinking of setting up a business in another country it is always good to remember that what we might take from granted here (wherever that may be) may not be available there. Combine healthcare and digital and you get: mobile apps for patients, databases for clinicians, hospitals and pharmacies, patient records and more. And some have actually begun to see the ageing population as a positive development. And certainly one that awaits many Western countries as well. In terms of the environment, what is now the biggest issue in the region is energy. For China, that means developing sustainable energy technologies that can help curb its high pollution levels. In case of Japan, this means developing clean, safe, renewable energy now that almost all of its nuclear reactor have shut down following the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor meltdown in 2011. And British companies have an advantage in this case as well. Greg mentioned two successful companies from the UK that have just set up operations in the region. One recycles solar panels, and the other removes radiation from contaminated water.

Greg’s advice for young entrepreneurs wishing to do business in East Asia? First, language ability is a must. But for a motivated entrepreneur, there are no barriers. The easiest way to start? Get your boots on the ground in China, Japan or wherever in the region and see for yourself what problems you think you could help solve, what industries interest you.

My hope is to expand our horizons and treat the whole world as a sea of opportunities. If you are interested in the possibility of setting up a business in East Asia, whether now or in the future, then this event is definitely for you!

You will have the chance to listen to and network with great experts on the topic. I should also mention that Intralink Group has employed several of School of East Asian Studies students in the past. And this time, the most recent hire from SEAS, Hannah Jackson, will be coming to the event as well.

There will also be a networking session afterwards to help you practice your networking skills and refreshments (sushi!) will be provided.

The event will be held on Thursday, 1 May 2014, from 5 to 7.30 pm in the University of Sheffield Enterprise. To register your interest, go to the event page. See you there!

20 March 2014 - 11:53 am Double (Or Even Triple) Feel-Good Effect

Is your office or dorm room dull? Or perhaps you are looking for a finishing touch that will liven up the décor? Or maybe you are searching for a great cause for donation because there is no better why to instantly lift your spirits? Perhaps you might be looking for a great gift for your parents and relatives (Mother’s Day is this Sunday, 30th March)?

Why not combine all of these into one?

In collaboration with RAG and Bummit I’m organising Charity Art Auction 2014 that is the first and one-time only opportunity to purchase original artwork in support of Sheffield charities. Continue reading “Double (Or Even Triple) Feel-Good Effect” »

10 March 2014 - 2:05 pm Three Simple Questions

I told you what values are and why you should have them. Ultimately it’s your choice. But I do believe values are like pillars of a happy life or a safety net which you can fall back on when you have nothing left or when you don’t know which life to choose.

Now I would like to teach you how to find your values. This is the simplest method I know and it was shared with me by Jo Simpson at an AIESEC conference at the beginning of February. I have just three simple questions for you.

What is important to you? What do you enjoy doing? What annoys you?

Simple as that.

I’ll briefly show you how to use this method. Continue reading “Three Simple Questions” »

6 March 2014 - 12:24 pm The Most Important Question

My favourite question has always been ‘Why?’ In fact, my immediate response to anything people say or do is to ask them ‘Why?’ It can surely annoy people. I wonder why… I’m usually unsatisfied with the answers they give. For me, there’s always more that can be explained and there’s always a deeper bottom. Say, you believe that higher education should be free. Why do you believe that? Because education is a human right. Why do you believe that? Because it equalizes opportunities. Why do you believe that? and so on. Why does it annoy people when you ask them ‘Why’? Continue reading “The Most Important Question” »

6 February 2014 - 10:24 am Decisions, decisions…

I’m terrible at decision-making. It took me 3 weeks to choose one essay topic. I asked friends and even family for help. A week before the deadline I had already been planning for another topic which most people suggested to me. And of course, I took their “advice” on board. But then I switched. The funniest thing is that I switched to the topic which my guts were telling me to pick from the very beginning.

This little story illustrates just a couple of problems imperfect people like me face when they have to make decision. Feel free to identify in yourself any of the following biases:

Continue reading “Decisions, decisions…” »

24 November 2013 - 9:50 am On the worthlessness of ideas alone

Everyone has ideas. It’s just how humans are. Queuing for a morning coffee, dozing off at a boring lecture, taking a shower… Bam! Great idea!

Or so we think… A couple of days pass and we’ll probably have forgotten all about it. Never mind.

Some, like me, keep idea journals filled with those “wouldn’t it be better if…” lists to capture all those worthless ideas, hoping that the next one will be better. Great! There’s nothing wrong with that. We need people with ideas because, in the end, they are the ones shaping our society. Continue reading “On the worthlessness of ideas alone” »

3 November 2013 - 10:11 am H&M Green Store Challenge

In 2010, H&M was on the radar. Despite their pledges to corporate social responsibility and sustainability, they were caught dumping tons on tons of unsold garments despite the availability of such schemes as New York Care Coat Drives. 2010 was 3 years ago and H&M seems to have come around since then. At the beginning of this year they introduced their own Garment Collection initiative. As of now, they have donated around £46k to local charities as part of the scheme.

Why am I writing about this? It seems H&M is going even a step further but this time around you can be a part of their new initiative!

Continue reading “H&M Green Store Challenge” »

30 October 2013 - 10:35 am Don’t Wait, Ask For It (Dealing With Rejection 101)

When I logged onto UCAS one evening in 2010, I discovered a big, shiny, red Rejected next to my application to the University of Sheffield.

I wasn’t angry.

I was gutted and speechless. I was not expecting it at all. I had done everything right. I was accepted to all of my other choices too. Except for Sheffield.

I felt wronged. I felt a deep sense of injustice. I knew deep down that I wasn’t rejected on my merits but on the simple admissions bureaucracy that is bound to be involved when sorting hundreds of applications. Continue reading “Don’t Wait, Ask For It (Dealing With Rejection 101)” »

  • About the author

    Sonja Bobrowska

    Sonja Bobrowska

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    I'm a Polish girl studying Japanese Studies in England. I just came back from a year abroad in Osaka, Japan and I'll be working as a Social Innovation Intern in my final year at Sheffield Uni. I'm fascinated by entrepreneurial behaviours, creativity and freedom and this blog is where I'll be practising my "honesty muscle". Stay tuned.