Kristian Harmston was born and bred in Queensland, Australia. He studied at the University of Southern Queensland and now operates his own hospitality sector businesses in Vietnam.
Tell us about your career ...
I worked for my company in South East Asia for 9 years before leaving and branching out with my Vietnamese and Thai business partners to start Alchemy Asia. Our beverage company specialises in premium international drinks (spirits) and we have over 200 employees across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. I also have an interest in a hospitality company with seven venues, a new start-up gin distillery and a communications and events agency.
Tell us about your studies …
Naturally I had my support network there which included my family, and a stable job. I began my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Religion at the University of Queensland (UQ) and then moved onto Business at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). When I left Brisbane to move to Sydney to advance my career from sales into marketing in my company headquarters (Beam Suntory as it is now known), I decided to go to online learning via the University of Southern Queensland.
How has your experience in Queensland helped you with your career?
Well, Queensland is a down-to-earth region and has an open and welcoming community. I’d say even more so now as a multi-cultural epicentre than when I was younger. I grew up with nature at my doorstep and learned to appreciate the simple things in life such as going for a bushwalk or a swim in the ocean. I live in Asia now and when I reflect on my time in Queensland, I have fond and lasting memories.
Did you work or undertake projects during your studies?
I began working in my second year of study as an intern at a multinational wine and spirits company and that set me on the path for my career. I loved the balance of work and lifestyle and as a natural self-starter I learned to manage my time without missing out on work or fun!
What was the highlight of your experience living in Queensland?
Well, being a hometown boy, there isn't much I didn’t like. I played rugby with the Easts Tigers until my early 20s, I loved surfing on the Tweed Coast and I enjoyed the Brisbane nightlife as a young man.
What career-advice would you give to give future students thinking about studying in Queensland?
It’s a great place to study. (It boasts) great weather and an outdoors lifestyle and access to the most beautiful parts of the country within an hour by car. There is a growing community of multicultural students. Aside from that, you have world-class universities and facilities there. And Queenslanders, well, we are just a nice, friendly bunch.
What ties do you still have to Queensland?
I have many friends in the same industry in Australia, and my friends and family are there, of course. I intend, in good time, to take some of the brands I am creating in Asia to Queensland and broader Australia with the right friends and partners to join me.
What's the easiest way to develop a social-life in Queensland?
Join a sporting community, whether it be rugby, cricket, bushwalking, surf clubs or even those associated with your cultural group. Volunteer at the local church or elderly home, babysit for families, go to the pub and talk to people. Become a spectator at local sporting events and follow a team; all great ways to form a bond and learn the culture. I feel it is important to step outside your comfort zone and embrace the environment.
Take on the opportunity, learn new skills, explore opportunities, embrace the culture and then return home and come to work with someone like me! There are a lot of things Australia can benefit from product and services-wise from Vietnam and SEA and vice-versa - you just need to find them and find the right people to back you.
Want to follow Kristian's journey? You can follow him on LinkedIn here.