Denym Bird: jumping into joy of the unknown
New Zealander Denym Bird is not only living in Amsterdam, but running his own business too, at age 29.
It’s not something he could have contemplated growing up in Bucklands Beach, Auckland, but now a life offshore feels strangely normal. And he believes accepting a Prime Minister’s Scholarship to study in Asia while in his early twenties took his life in a new and exciting direction.
Denym grew up in a single income household and says he could never have afforded to study overseas if he hadn’t found out about the Prime Minister’s Scholarship programme while in his final year studying for a Bachelor of Business Studies at AUT.
His scholarship took him to Hong Kong in 2014 to study business at the prestigious City University where he met students from all around the world taking the opportunity for an international education experience, just like he was.
A new perspective on the world
“I was blown away by every element of the experience of living in Hong Kong,” he says. “Living, studying and travelling around Asia changed my perspective on the world. I made countless international friends and it ignited my curiosity to explore more of what the world has to offer.”
Denym studied marketing and information systems and took the bonus opportunity to learn a little Mandarin.
“The professional connections and the friends I made could never have happened without the scholarship, and they’ve had a huge impact on my life.
“The lecturers were incredibly helpful with references, and they helped me secure my first internship, marketing software developed for sport coaches for an international company. And the friends I made while studying are climbing career ladders around the world in a range of industries. They’re part of my professional network which I’m able to leverage as well.”
Denym now runs his own business, Hypergiant, working as a marketing consultant for international companies which specialise in software. “I help them as a virtual marketing director, guiding and advising on marketing initiatives. I have a handful of clients around the world who I work with.”
He says the Prime Minister’s Scholarship helped him cultivate international relationships “and really understand how the world works outside of New Zealand”.
Global connections provide career boost
“Developing an understanding of other cultures has been super valuable as I’ve developed my career and my business. And travelling at a relatively young age with the scholarship gave me a tremendous amount of confidence. All of this has contributed to me being able to set up business on my own.”
Denym is happy living in Amsterdam for the time being. “It’s a really good environment to do business in. Super green, open-minded, and innovative. It’s a big economy and is part of the EU and I want to explore business opportunities here.
“I’ve got lots of ideas in the pipeline, and workstreams already under way are moving quicker than they would if I was still based in New Zealand.”
He loves the concept of being a global citizen, and says it is so important for his generation. “Being a global citizen means you’re someone who is grounded in your own national identity, but you’ve lived in other places, experienced other cultures, and can take on board new ideas.
“The Prime Minister’s Scholarship experience was the catalyst that opened my eyes to becoming a global citizen, the importance of it, and the massive personal reward you can get from it. It’s valuable in doing business internationally and it helps make the world a better place. It’s pretty cool, really.”
His advice to students contemplating applying for a scholarship is to “just take the leap”.
“Whatever you think you might be missing out on at home, you will be gaining so much more from having this experience. When I decided to do this, it was like jumping into the joy of the unknown.
“Try to embrace change and rise to the challenges because the only way to truly grow is to take yourself out of your comfort zone. The things you worry about won’t be nearly as bad, and the things you think will be good will be ten times better.”