On Saturday, Migreat hosted the third community event of 2015 for Chinese overseas students and young professionals to discuss their options to stay and start their career in the UK.
Introduced by Tian Lan, Chinese Community Manager at Migreat, the event brought high profile leaders of the Diaspora to share their success story to inspire the audience to follow their example.
In the morning, Eve Li, Owner of East Meet West Club, Lu Li, founder of Female Entrepreneurs Organisation and Zongwen Yu, COO of Blueprint Capital, all three role models of their community, answered the questions of Noah Sin on how to take advantages of the different thinking patterns by which Chinese and Westerners do business.
Asked about their reasons for why they decided to move to the UK, Eve explained she ‘felt [She] could do better by moving here in London’.
Originally from Taiwan, Eve has been living in the U.K. for more than 17 years. Her Chinese cultural upbringing taught her how to be a powerful networker.
“Westerners have this prejudiced idea that we Chinese are reserved while actually, we are not.” Instead she explained that Chinese migrants are social creatures, acting and moving in group – a dramatically different approach from the individualistic behaviour set in the West.
Meanwhile, Lu who was born in Beijing and raised in Germany, added she ‘chose the UK because it is more open-minded than the US’.
Indeed, there has been progress made over the last years to develop collaboration and broaden the dialogue in between China and the UK with lately a new streamlined visa process for Chinese visitors and more visa centres opening in China.
Lu and Eve mentioned an increasing sense of collaboration and several shared initiatives popping up in London, supporting the success of the Chinese Diaspora here.
“It will require time, and it will need people from both end to understand that we think and communicate differently” – Eve added.
She took illustration of how UK and China address business to illustrate her point. Westerners are straightforward she said, when Chinese are going in “rounds”. Here, people want to “close deals”. Yet, “in Chinese if you say you are going to close, Chinese will walk away from the business table”.
Zongwen confirmed this by adding that efforts needed to be done by both ends to meet, with a stronger emphasis from Chinese individuals living here. ‘You have to obey the rules of the game here if you want to stay, you have to be one of them’.
Panelists addressed the case of Chinese overseas students who are often too shy to express themselves.
“When I arrived in Uni here, I would still raise my hand to ask permission to go to the loo” said Eve.
This tells a lot about the difference between UK and Chinese culture. In the UK asking questions and taking initiatives is a cultivated and encouraged behaviour in the family and work environment. On the contrary, Chinese culture a lot of attention is given to being diligent and such act as taking initiatives can sometimes be perceived as a lack of respect.
This led the panelists to emphasises the importance of work experience in the UK to find a good job after graduation – and opened the discussion for the afternoon workshops centred around finding jobs in London.
‘If your CV is pretty much a blank paper, do volunteer jobs or be an intern, gain as much as work experience during the first six months after graduation’.
Sally, the founder of 11K Consulting, shared her ‘10 secrets to building a successful career in the UK’ in an hour engaging talk.
Her experience taught her UK employers care more what you can do for them than what degree your earned or graduation level you completed.
Followed, Sophia from Mandarin Consulting, who made a presentation about things graduations need to know if they want to find a job here.
She shared a few more illustration of how different thinking patterns between Chinese and Westerners can interfere with a Chinese student search for a job here in the UK.
“Employers here look for a team worker, that has a taste for taking initiative and calculated risks and that can asks relevant questions.
In contrast, Chinese employers look for very different characteristics, usually looking for someone who will show obedience, to be a hard worker, staying late at night at work”.
The whole event ended up with boosted confidence and happiness from attendee’s smiley faces.
For photos of the event and more information opportunities for the Chinese diaspora in London, follow our Facebook page: 华人社区在全球 Migreat and Weibo account ChineseMigreat.