5 minutes with … Ms Gyvinne Koh, founder of Eduroam Sdn Bhd, and Mr Christian Wachtmeister, managing director of the German branch edu8 GmbH

Recruiting trainees and nursing staff from Malaysia and Vietnam and placing them in Germany – these are Eduroam Sdn Bhd’s main focuses. The company’s head office is located in Petaling Jaya, a district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In July 2020, the company took the plunge abroad and opened a branch in the Straubing district in Lower Bavaria. Today we are talking to Ms Gyvinne Koh, founder of Eduroam Sdn Bhd and Mr Christian Wachtmeister, managing director of the German branch, about the reasons for choosing Bavaria as a location and the company’s future goals.

Ms Koh, you founded the Eduroam Sdn Bhd company in Malaysia three years ago and since then you have successfully placed young people from Southeast Asia to study in Germany. How did the business idea come about back then?
 

Students from Asia are very motivated to gain experience abroad, but the majority will probably think about studying in English-speaking countries such as the USA, Great Britain or Australia. This is particularly true in Malaysia.

I personally had very positive experiences during my studies in Germany and I have the feeling that this country has a lot to offer. For many years now, most students from Malaysia have been scholarship holders who receive support from the government. For prospective students who do not receive this support, it is difficult to obtain precise information about studying in Germany. There is a lack of know-how and support – for example in administrative matters such as visas and enrolment.

As more and more friends had asked me for help regarding studying in Germany, I was convinced that I should not only help my friends, but any student who wants to consider studying in Germany.
 

Mr Wachtmeister, as managing director of the German branch, you had a say in the location decision. What were the arguments in favour of founding Edu8 GmbH in Bavaria? What were the reasons for you opting for the Straubing district?
 

Firstly, Bavaria has numerous universities of worldwide renown and an excellent reputation in Southeast Asia – especially in the technical disciplines. Many of our students have therefore decided to study in Bavaria in recent years, and we want to ensure good supervision by being close to them.
Secondly, there are many companies and care facilities, clinics and hospitals in Bavaria that have a massive need for skilled workers who have already been trained or are about to be trained. Here we offer sustainable solutions for recruiting and securing skilled workers with our range of services and our local contacts. Last but not least, Bavaria is my home and many people from Asia have positive images of Bavaria full of vitality in their minds when they talk about Germany.
 

How did you hear about Invest in Bavaria? On which topics has Invest in Bavaria’s support been particularly relevant and important for your project?
 

I have known the “Invest in Bavaria” institution for several years through my professional work and the contact people have already been very helpful and provided me with good support with various issues on other projects.

When securing skilled workers for Bavarian companies and institutions, we are aiming to cooperate with associations, chambers and companies and look forward to valuable network contacts through Invest in Bavaria.
 

Ms Koh, your company also cooperates with Bavarian universities. Can you give us a concrete example of a successful cooperation?
 

Initially, our students only knew the TU9 universities such as TU Munich or RWTH Aachen. Since then, we have contacted TH Deggendorf and other German universities and advertised them in Malaysia. TH Deggendorf, for example, has interesting courses of study in the field of Industry 4.0, which are very relevant and in demand in the industry.

Our students are finding out more about TH Deggendorf and what it offers. This helps them to better assess where they want to study. At the same time, TH Deggendorf gains a good reputation among Malaysian students.
 

Mr Wachtmeister, you have lived and worked in Southeast Asia for more than five years. What is your experience: does the Malaysian and Vietnamese cultural character fit with the German culture or is there potential for conflict?
 

For me Malaysia and the region is like a second home and I was able to gain a good insight into the society and culture through my work there as well as long-standing friendships. Of course, there are differences in the cultural character, but both sides can learn and benefit an incredible amount from each other. For example, a recently published study by McKinsey found that teams with a high level of ethnic diversity were more than a third more successful.

Nevertheless, an awareness of the different cultural character is necessary.

Through our courses and coaching in the intercultural field, we prepare both the future employees from Asia and the companies for a lasting successful cooperation.
 

Ms Koh, during our chat you mentioned that you would like to expand your service portfolio between Southeast Asia and Germany with the edu8 GmbH branch. What are these plans?
 

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we already run a language school for German as a foreign language and train up to C1 level there. Led by our location in Bavaria, we are going to expand our e-learning courses and therefore extend our language course offer to other countries in Southeast Asia.
 

And, as mentioned earlier, we will be assisting companies and facilities in the nursing and healthcare sector to fill their vacancies. In many Southeast Asian countries, training in the nursing professions is in excess of the demand and graduates are highly motivated to work in Germany. 
 

Another area is supporting companies in their search for trainees. In the Southeast Asian region, dual vocational training based on the German model is gaining in importance. As a result, not only are government agencies and the economy recognising the great advantage of an education combining theory and practice, but also parents and students. Germany is perceived in these countries not only as an innovative technology location but also as the origin and home of vocational training. Many young people from the emerging markets in Southeast Asia therefore have the desire to complete their vocational training in Germany and also to work and live in Germany in the long term.
 

This constellation provides a unique opportunity for German companies to secure skilled workers for the long term. Through solid vocational training, the young people get to know the work area and the company in detail and are thus very well equipped for a sustainable and successful long-term work and career development in Germany.
 

Mr Wachtmeister, we at Invest in Bavaria support international companies setting up in Bavaria. Your company brings young people from Southeast Asia to Germany to study and prepare them for their studies. Is there an “insider tip” for Germany that you would not only give to your students but also to an investor expanding into Bavaria?
 

Even though English is very often spoken in many companies or even at universities, knowledge of German is often a key to better understanding people and culture. For example, a chat in sociable company gives deep and authentic insights into Bavarian culture and can be the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.
 

With world-class universities, international companies looking for talent and the multi-faceted healthcare sector, Bavaria offers us very good conditions for expansion in Europe.