Kea Member Profile: Michael Peng, Dopamine, Taipei


M Peng Slim

Friend of New Zealand Michael Peng shares key insights with Kea on growing up as a musician in NZ, transitioning into social media marketing in Taiwan and leveraging his unique connection to New Zealand.


Where are you from and what is your background?
I was born in 1977 in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan and moved to Taipei city with family when I was four years old. In 1989 I moved to Auckland, New Zealand with my parents and my older sister, where I studied at Buckland’s Beach Intermediate, Macleans College, and The University of Auckland.

I graduated from Macleans College with 1st in Music, and was awarded The Trenwith Cultural Cup for boys. I then went on to study at the Music School at the University of Auckland, majoring in violin performance music.

What brought you back to Taiwan?
In my final year of university, I hurt my finger. It affected my ability to play the violin, so I decided to find a new career direction. But at that stage, I didn’t know what else I could do besides playing music, so I was a little lost.
For some reason I decided to find a new “me” in my mother country –Taiwan. I moved back to Taipei in 2000.
After I moved to Taiwan, I was still working in the music industry as a music producer and radio host. I chose this mainly to survive and pay my bills. But at the same time, I never stopped searching for new career possibilities.
With no educational background and experience, other than music, it was tough. However, after a year, I found a job as a sales person, and not long after that I found I also had the gift in advertising too. I started self-studying advertising and marketing. Luckily I managed to secure a position working for Yahoo! Taiwan. This was after three years of approaching companies for advertising related work.

Tell us about your current business.
I started my own on-line marketing agency “Dopamine” in 2008. In the beginning, Dopamine mainly focused on providing on-line marketing solutions for brand clients. Since 2012, Dopamine mostly handles social media strategies and communication, and now Dopamine it is one of the top social media marketing agencies in Taiwan. I was personally awarded a bronze prize for digital agency management award in 2015.

Do you leverage your “Kiwiness” in your business?
Yes, very much so. I am a Taiwanese-Kiwi, I studied and grew up in New Zealand, so most of my way of thinking is very Kiwi.
The way I run my business is very different to local managements. I let my team to take responsibility, allow them to make mistakes, so they can be better and better of what they do. And I always tell them your boss might not always be right. And the result is so far very outstanding, they are they best in the social marketing field, and I really enjoy providing the platform and stage for them to grow with the company. This really motivates me to be different, the way I run my business and what we provide to our market, can be different and unique compared to other success agencies.
I have also had failures – but by failing it also gives me motivation, to overcome the problem, I know I’m one level up and ready to take a higher challenges.

What are your current connections with New Zealand?
I’ve been working with New Zealand Commerce and Industry office in Taipei to promote New Zealand products in Taiwan for the past four years. The first project was to promote New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the Taiwanese market. Now Dopamine is the agency which assists with the promotion of New Zealand food and beverage products to Taiwan consumers.
I am constantly working on what else I can do to connect New Zealand and Taiwan.

Where to from here?
I love challenges, learning new things, and always ready to explore.
I feel very fortunate to be able to have a great start of my career after moving back to Taiwan. I also know the reason I can be here today is because I grew up in New Zealand. The education, and way of thinking, the Kiwi style, really makes me different to other people in Taiwan, so sometimes stand out too.
Next, I’m planning to explore my business and life to other countries. Not only because I want to expand my business, but because I love finding out the excitement of each city and it’s people. Currently I’ve been working with online marketing experts in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Hopefully soon I can get to know more people all over the world.