Liz Johnston was appointed Executive Director of the Australia-Korea Business Council in December 2015.
Congratulations on the new role! Can you please tell us about your background and experience?
Thank you. I am delighted at the appointment and look forward to working with you all. I have a longstanding relationship with Korea which all began in Year 8 at school when I began learning the Korean language. I first travelled to Korea at 16 and fell in love with the culture, the people and was fascinated by the contrast in culture between Australia and Korea. I continued with my Korean language studies throughout University and have visited Korea several times to study Korean at Yonsei University, Sogang University and Seoul National University. In terms of my professional career, I have worked at POSCO in investor relations, KPMG in management consulting and Asialink Business in capability development.
What do you have planned for AKBC in 2016?
2016 will be a very exciting year for the AKBC. We will continue to deliver value to members through events, information, education and networks. Our major event each year is the Joint Meeting between the Australia-Korea Business Council and Korea-Australia Business Council, which will be held in Sept/Oct this year. This promises to be a fantastic event with senior government and business representatives (of both countries) in attendance. In addition to the Joint Meeting, we will also host a number of other events throughout the year that will be relevant to our members who should visit our website regularly as details will published once plans have been finalised.
What do you like most about Korea?
The people. The Koreans are energetic, welcoming and inquisitive. Being able to communicate with Koreans in their language helps me build trust and enables me to develop a strong connection quickly. I find that Koreans are both very respectful and very interested in Australia and life in Australia.
The food is another thing that keeps me coming back. My favourite meal is Korean bbq and kimchi chigae.
What are some of the opportunities in the Australia-Korea corridor?
The Australia-Korea relationship is at very exciting stage. One year has passed since the signing of the KAFTA, which has provided and will continue to provide Australian businesses with new opportunities for growth and expansion into the Korean market. Key industry sectors for Australian businesses are energy and natural resources, education, tourism, finance, biotechnology and agriculture. On occasions lack of awareness and cultural barriers may prevent the full realisation of the relationship. By working closely with Australian businesses we believe that these matters can be overcome. One of our priorities in 2016 is to work closely with Australian businesses to raise awareness of opportunities in the Korean market and also help them overcome barriers.
What are you most excited about for 2016?
I am fortunate to have such experienced and knowledgeable board members. The board members are both generous and enthusiastic in seeking to assist both me and our members in creating strong relationships with Koreans. I look forward to working closely with our members and helping them achieve their goals for 2016.