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Campus News : December 2010
www.uow.edu.au University of Wollongong Campus News December 2010 11 MICHAEL MA Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Marketing) 1990 Michael Ma sleeps from 4am to 9am each day -- because that's when he can escape the demands of his international hospitality empire. The IndoChine Group's founder and chief executive spends his days checking in with managers around the world and keeping up with new projects in his bars, restaurants, clubs, villas and resorts across Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, India and Indonesia. Then at night he works late attending business dinners and meeting with sales representatives or associates until the early hours of the morning. The 43-year-old University of Wollongong graduate founded the IndoChine Group of Restaurants and Bars in Singapore in 1999. The group now operates 11 outlets in the island city with 23 venues around the globe. IndoChine venues have won many industry awards over the past 11 years and the latest success is a new resort in Phuket, Thailand, which nature-lover Michael says is "the most beautiful site in South East Asia" for its prime position between the mountains, rainforest and ocean. Michael grew up in Cabramatta and Bondi after his family came to Australia as refugees from Laos. After school he followed a love of the beach lifestyle to Wollongong where he studied economics and marketing. At university, Michael was heavily involved with an international student organisation called AIESEC, and ran for student politics, which he was able to use to his advantage later in his career. "A university degree is important but networking is just as important. I would say (to students) to get involved with extra-curricular activities such as student representative councils and social activities," Michael said. After he finished his degree he worked helping his local communities in Fairfield and Cabramatta, starting as a translator between the community and the local politicians. He then moved into marketing jobs in Australia before relocating to Singapore to work as a commodities trader, where he said his time at University helped him build successful business relationships. "Being from Australia is great. I think Wollongong has the knack of making you down-to-earth and what people in business like about that is that you're real, you're genuine," he said. In Singapore, Michael moved quickly up the investment-trading ladder to become regional manager of Asia for the multi-billion dollar cereals company Archer Daniels Midland. He spent four years travelling around Asia and to the US and Europe gaining valuable insights into commodity trading, bulk shipment and international business. Sleep no priority for hospitality mogul Michael During this time Michael saved up the money to buy a bar -- the start of IndoChine -- and since then he said the business has doubled in size each year for 10 years. Despite a decade of phenomenal business success, Michael has never forgotten his social and community responsibilities. He is heavily involved in the Singapore community and focuses on organisations that support entrepreneurship. He is on the Singapore Tourism Board, the Action Community for Entrepreneurship and is currently the president of a not-for-profit organisation Spirit of Enterprise. Michael is also passionate about the environment and ensures that all IndoChine venues maintain sustainable practices in their restaurants and bars. "We have been involved with the environment for 10 years since we started. We have never served sharks' fin soup, or used yellow or blue-fin tuna, caviar or sturgeon in our menus," he said. "Studying at university has helped me a lot in business with economics and marketing. But it was also a great place to get discipline, network, have fun and meet a lot of international students," he said. "After university people don't just look at your degree. They look at how human you are, and how you interact with other people. "The good thing about Wollongong was it made us human." KM Caption: UOW Arts graduate Michael Ma has built a hospitality empire across JONATHAN BARKER Bachelor of Creative Arts (Graphic Design) and Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) 2000 Master of Creative Arts (Graphic Design and New Media) 2008 When Jonathan Barker received an email from booksellers Dymocks about a competition to design the new cover of bestselling novel The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, he hadn't even read the book. But he quickly borrowed a copy of Stig Larsson's bestseller from one of his co- workers at the University of Wollongong, and was inspired to design a gritty, stylised design that references the Scandinavian origins of the story. Jonathan's eye-catching red design went on to win the national competition. The designer has since become very familiar with the bestseller, attending launches and seeing his design printed across thousands of books to be sold this summer. "Designing for such a popular book that has already been interpreted in many interesting ways---including feature films---was a terrific challenge," he said. As UOW's Senior Graphic Designer Jonathan normally designs brochures, advertising and other print and online communications materials for the University. Growing up in Griffith, he was attracted to study in Wollongong because of the beach lifestyle. After graduating the designer travelled for 18 months before returning to Wollongong to visit university friends, and landing a job at his alma mater in 2002. Since then he has lent his unique and creative design style -- which he refined during a Masters degree completed part- time -- to thousands of university designs. He said the process of taking a book cover design to the final print-ready stage for a national publishing company had been a "whirlwind". "The book has such great material in it and it was very different to the type of work I do in my day job," he said. "It's great just to see my work published nationally, let alone on such a widely read book. It's amazing, although I have to admit it's still a bit strange seeing it on the shelves." Copies of the limited edition are now available. KM Meet the designer of the Dragon Tattoo (cover) UOW Arts graduate Michael Ma has built a hospitality empire across South-east Asia. UOW graphic designer Jonathan Barker with h g g is winning book cover desii ign n gn.