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City of Opportunity beckons international talent

05 October 2018

Christchurch’s international connectivity and world-class education sector first attracted newlywed couple Harshal Panidepu and Vasavi Cheernam to the city of opportunity.

But ultimately, access to an outdoor lifestyle within minutes of a modern and vibrant city centre cemented their decision to remain and explore their future in Christchurch.

The couple, both in their late 20’s, moved to Christchurch in 2018 so Harshal, an accomplished biochemical engineer, could study towards his PhD degree at the Chemical and Process Engineering department of The University of Canterbury.

“It’s destiny, actually,” Panidepu says. “I also received another fully-funded offer from an Austrian university previously, but after speaking to a professor here at the University of Canterbury and learning about his research and his open-minded personality, I got a really great initial vibe about my doctoral research and life and people of Christchurch.”

Harshal Panidepu hopes his thesis, titled “In-Silico Modelling of Functional Soft Tissue Scaffolds,” could ultimately help people on end of life treatment waiting for organ donors.

He hopes his thesis, titled “In-Silico Modelling of Functional Soft Tissue Scaffolds,” could ultimately help people on end of life treatment waiting for organ donors.

“In New Zealand and most other countries, the number of people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant heavily outweighs the number of organs available, so helping engineer a solution that can ultimately save lives is a cause I’m passionate to contribute to,” Panidepu says.

When he’s not working on his thesis, Panidepu can be found exploring Christchurch and Canterbury’s many playgrounds with his soul mate and childhood sweetheart, Vasavi Cheernam.

“I love Christchurch because the air is pure, and you can see sparrows everywhere,” Panidepu says. “I realise they’re not a native bird, but they remind me of my childhood in India, where we’d see sparrows everywhere before they became extinct due to pollution and urbanization.”

Cheernam, an accomplished civil engineer with several years with India’s largest construction conglomerate, Larsen & Toubro, is exploring opportunities to join the local workforce.

“It’s an exciting time to be living in Christchurch and we hope to contribute to the ongoing growth of this beautiful city,” - Vasavi Cheernam

“New Zealand’s civil engineering landscape presents many unique opportunities to explore my interests in sustainable engineering solutions related to environmental and water resource engineering,” Cheernam says.

For now, she’s working at telecommunications giant Spark but is hoping to get her foot in the door of Christchurch’s civil engineering community.

“It’s an exciting time to be living in Christchurch and we hope to contribute to the ongoing growth of this beautiful city,” Cheernam says.

Panidepu and Cheernam are joining a new generation of local and international talent who are helping propel Christchurch onto the global stage.

With Christchurch facing a skills shortage of 73,000 by 2031, our region needs to attract and retain more talented people to drive economic growth and remain competitive.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager, Business & Innovation Richard Sandford says Canterbury businesses already enjoy a reputation of being innovative and for turning investment into new things, however attracting the right talent can improve economic outcomes.

“Embracing the new connections, cultural insights, experience and perspective of international people can add significant value to our local business community and help us become competitive on a global scale,” Sandford says.

He says attracting and supporting talented individuals that complement our city’s existing skill set can help build new opportunities for Christchurch and Canterbury.

“Businesses can gain a lot by tapping into the international experience of new arrivals to our city,” ChristchurchNZ General Manager, Business & Innovation, Richard Sandford.

“Businesses can gain a lot by tapping into the international experience of new arrivals to our city,” Sandford says.

Working in Christchurch offers the opportunity to connect with an agile and innovative business ecosystem, explore an amazing lifestyle while enjoying the economic and social advantages of being New Zealand’s second largest city.

ENDS