Studied: MA Financial and Industrial Economics
Place of Work: CEOCIO China
Position: Senior Editor
Did you enjoy studying in the UK?
Inside China everything is quite closed, but sometimes you need to get out and live somewhere different to experience new things. I got a lot out of my time in the UK, the beautiful landscape, clear air, wet weather, London, Egham, and above all a broader and deeper view of the world. The studies are tough, but the time I spent in my flat kitchen with my friends helped me to relax in the evenings. That’s the thing about studying at Royal Holloway: it opens your eyes and mind, inside and outside of the classroom.
Why did you choose to study Economics?
That’s a tricky question. My parents encouraged me to study the course, and since my undergraduate major was Public Finance, it seemed sensible to continue with this course of study. It turned out that this was exactly the type of thing that I wanted to do. The one thing I really cared about was the importance of learning economic theory scientifically, as opposed to the politically-orientated focus that we learn in China. I also wanted to learn more about the difference between East and West methodology.
What were your expectations prior to starting the course?
When I first started I didn’t have a specific expectation, just a desire for a general life experience, to go abroad and study. But everything impressed me, the class, the campus and particularly the professors. When I first arrived in the Economics department, a tutor said to me ‘you didn’t come for the maths course, your English isn’t so good, and I don’t think that you will pass this course, so for your benefit maybe you should look at switching to another degree’. I was so shocked! It’s so different to the Chinese system, where just go to school and you never talk about choices, options and what’s best for you. It’s so different. But, I stuck with it. If someone says to me that I cannot do something I think, why not? And so I set out to prove that tutor wrong!
What were the best parts of the course?
Econometrics. It was the most difficult part, but also the most interesting. I still remember pinning down my flatmate’s friend one day, asking him everything that I didn’t know, getting him to teach me everything from the very basics. By the end of the evening our kitchen looked more like a classroom. I didn’t pass that first exam, but the second exam was better and by my final exam I passed with over 90%.
Have your studies helped you in your career?
My work is related to management, but my studies in the UK and my economics background gave me more confidence and more in-depth knowledge to deal with the topics that I am writing on. The first interview I did was whilst I was working at the first daily financial newspaper in China. I interviewed the UK and Europe president of Credit Lyonnais, which was pretty tough for a new journalist! I did so much research, but my international background and knowledge of finance and economics gave me some idea of how to go about doing the interview. I took the angle of comparing Shanghai to the European financial markets in a global macroeconomic sense. That was the start of my journalism work and since then I’ve carried out over 1,000 interviews with more than 100 CEOs of multinational corporations across the world.
Tell us about your current role at Ceocio China Magazine.
We focus on reporting about new business models, new technology, the reasons why people are going abroad and how we can help them do this. I am now the most senior editor at CEOCIO China, and my role involves proposing new stories, training and guiding my colleagues in researching and writing the stories, working as part of a team to prepare material for the interviews and organising the publication of articles. I am also head of the Shanghai office, so I take care of all daily operations in the office. I have flexible working hours, mostly working from home and going out to do interviews.