By Various authors

05 July 2021 - 11:12

Chengdu rail commuters leave the station in sunlight
Working in China was a great opportunity to learn how design can cater to different ways of living. Photo ©

Yuanpei Hua used under licence and adapted from the original.

We asked Generation UK alumni how their experiences in China influenced their ambitions and perception of the world. 

Madeleine Griffifths – Part 1 Architectural Assistant, Farrells London  

Working in China, I learned how design can cater to different ways of living.  

There’s a trend in contemporary architecture for buildings to be efficient spaces made for productivity, speed, and function. Chengdu’s Hi-Tech/Gaoxin District (高新区) was undergoing a process of rapid development. But I wanted to question if these places were being designed sensitively. 

My projects allowed me to consider the human experience of each space I designed. I blended the surrounding context with China’s culture and the individual’s experience into one space that encouraged positive interactions with the self and with others. 

Finding commonalities and differences between the diverse lifestyles and cultures that define our cities should inform the way we design for them. My ambition is to continue learning and growing. By doing so, I hope to design empathetic places that hold people at the heart of their design. 

Afope Adeniyi – Finance and Workforce Planning Lead, UK Home Office

I’m from Nigeria and I grew up in South London, so China was a culture shock for me.  

The experience broadened my perspective and the way I approach situations and life in general. I understand different perspectives better. I use this new knowledge to create an environment that fosters collaboration everywhere I go.  

In the next three to five years, I would love to join a global organisation, like the UN. I'd like to leverage my experiences and create a larger impact for the betterment of the world. 

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David Keenan – Global Account Manager, BT  

My experience in China inspired me to apply for a job with a global focus. I became a Global Account Manager for BT. I became a leader for a global department, working with customers in countries including China.  

Before heading to China, I had only visited countries of a similar culture to mine in the UK. Since my experience in China, I’ve wanted to map out my career with a view to having more opportunities to travel.  

Hitesh Tank – Policy Associate, Financial Reporting Council  

The world and China share many of the same challenges, from global public health to climate change.  

Since my time in China, I’ve joined the Financial Reporting Council as a Policy Associate in the Corporate Governance and Stewardship team. I've learned best practice from participants in the investment industry. And, I've learned about the evolving approach institutional investors are taking towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. 

While the UK and Europe are at the forefront of ESG developments, standards and best practice continue to evolve in Asia. This is an agenda I would like to contribute to. I see myself having a dual-focussed career in the public and private sectors, working on ESG issues. Particularly: climate change and the role of the financial sector. 

Rebecca Briscoe – Chinese-Speaking Investigation Specialist, Amazon  

Growing up in London, I thought I already knew a lot about the world. That was until the day before I left for China when I realised I had no idea what China looked like. Except for some pictures of my university, Chinese-language TV series and some random photos I had found on Google, I had no concept of everyday life in China after getting off the plane. 

The language and cultural barriers shaped my experiences. For examples, what I thought sounded like two people regularly arguing at a local restaurant was actually a normal conversation between two restaurant workers.  

After graduating from my degree in Chinese and German, I wanted to find a job where I could speak Mandarin daily.  

During my internship as part of Generation UK, I had the pleasure of working in a multicultural travel and tourism company, planning domestic tours for US clients to China. I enjoyed working on the projects which bridged the two cultures and deepened their understanding.  

Brogan Gauld – Software Engineer, JP Morgan Chase & Co  

My experience in China allowed me to integrate with people from other countries and make connections across the world.  

I learned a lot about my studies, different regions and languages and ways of life. I became adaptable and learned to use my initiative. The experience prepared me well for completing my degree, pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and learning new skills. 

The experience I had in China has made me more ambitious for the future and given me confidence in trying new roles, industries and business cultures.  

My internship has taught me that I shouldn’t limit myself. 

Christian Georgiou – Data Analyst, Horwich Farrelly

On my first day in Beijing, a mentor told me ‘you won’t change China, but China will change you’. They were right.

Living in China has changed my perception of China itself. Chinese friends gave me first-hand accounts of major events within the last four decades, and particularly the rapid change over the last two years. They challenged my stereotypes and gave me an honest insight into the lives of others.

My experiences in China have given me a concrete idea as to what I would like to do for my career. Travelling to China gave me a much wider view of what’s possible in life. 

Join us this summer as we celebrate international experiences in China with the We are Generation UK campaign.

Share your China story or memory using #WeAreGenUK.

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