From China to Manchester: How an MBA helped boost our careers |

From China to Manchester: How an MBA helped boost our careers

By Stephanie L

Updated June 17, 2021 Updated June 17, 2021

Sponsored by Alliance Manchester Business School

Doing an MBA abroad requires a leap of faith, strength and courage into the unknown – but the impact can be transformative.

The UK is a popular destination for MBA students looking to develop new skills and gain invaluable business knowledge.

TopMBA caught up with Lu Chen and Charles Chang, two Full-time MBA graduates from China to find out more about their MBA experiences and how the MBA helped get them to where they are now.

Why Manchester?

For Lu and Charles, the decision to study the Full-time MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) was quite an easy one for them both.

Lu said: “I wanted to study in an English-speaking country in Europe – so that’s the UK. I visited three business schools in the UK, and I liked Alliance Manchester Business School the most.”

For Charles, it was as much about the quality of the degree programme as it was about living in the city where his footballing heroes once played.

“China-UK relations entered a golden era in 2015, following soaring business between the two nations. Therefore, my target school was a British one in order to follow the national trend.

“I first heard about AMBS from a colleague and an admissions officer in China. They gave me an in-depth understanding of AMBS, its high ranking, diverse class profile and project-based programme in a city with well-developed transport links.

“Living in Manchester also made my childhood dream come true. Football made Manchester my favourite British city. All these sweet memories laid the foundations for my move to Manchester.”

Learning the fundamentals and embracing a diverse learning environment

Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) is one of the largest campus-based business and management schools in the UK and is part of the prestigious University of Manchester. The business school campus sits at the heart of the university, making it a great option for ambitious MBA students.

Charles highlights how the MBA was an opportunity to develop an in-demand skillset for real-life business challenges, which is especially important for gaining valuable experience to pivot into roles that involve taking on more responsibilities.

After graduating in 2018, Charles returned to his previous company, China General Nuclear Power Engineering Company Ltd., but in a new role as Head of HR, assisting the company’s CEO with establishing its new UK branch.

He said: “Three real-world consulting projects in the MBA equipped me with the knowledge and experience of how to operate a company in the UK. As a result, I could figure out key issues during the business development and find ways to sort them out.”

Lu, who works as a strategy lead for technology firm WorldPay, echoes Charles’ sentiments. She said: “The MBA helped me get my foot in the strategy world so I could apply what I learnt in school to the real business world. The skills never disappear – they only get reinforced during my day-to-day work.”

New opportunities and experiences

Lu and Charles both agree that the skills and industry-focused teachings provided by the MBA, as well as the diverse nature of the programme’s cohort and its extensive alumni network, gave them a considerable employability boost.

Charles says studying an MBA in the UK was a transformative step in his post-MBA journey too. He said: “The notable benefit is that I understand UK society. Normally, it is a big challenge for employers and employees to start a business in a new country. I can share my experiences with colleagues to help them feel more confident and excited about starting life in the UK.”

And what about networking? Forming strong bonds can be particularly beneficial to your future career, as the connections can last a lifetime and help you to expand your horizons both professionally and personally.

As Charles said: “It is also quite easy for me to find local resources through the alumni network. Since my company’s UK branch is a newly established entity, I need local partners to go through issues of labour law, immigration, tax and so on with. Thanks to AMBS’s alumni network, I have successfully made connections with PWC, EY and KPMG, among others.

“I often meet alumni on various occasions in London. There was an occasion where I met an alumnus at a business event, and I introduced him to my marketing colleagues to help establish a potential intra-company partnership.”

Prior to the MBA, Lu didn’t have a particular career path in mind. It was only during the MBA and after graduating when she secured a job working in corporate strategy at Jaguar Land Rover, that Lu realised just what she was capable of when it came to her career.

She said: “During my time at Jaguar Land Rover I worked on strategic projects including mergers and acquisition and strategic partnership to support the future business growth.”

After two years at Jaguar Land Rover, Lu spotted an opportunity in tech and decided to make the switch. She said: “I saw [how] tech players are changing our lives in every aspect and I learnt that WorldPay is one of the biggest industry players in the UK.”

Lu joined WorldPay as their strategy lead for B2B industry, defining and outlining strategies to enable growth and expansion of the company’s B2B products outside of the US market. Then, in early 2021, Lu became the strategy lead for retail, grocery and petrol.

Lu’s long-term goal is to establish herself in the tech industry, and says the MBA was a crucial step in laying the foundations for her future career path.

She said: “Strategy is a job that requires frameworks and broad business knowledge to think strategically and be able to make right suggestions and recommendations to senior executives.

“The MBA helped build that foundation for me, to connect all the dots of a business. Without the MBA, I wouldn’t know what C-suite managers are thinking or how to support them in the right way.”

This article was originally published in June 2021 .

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for and (until September 2021), Stephanie created and published a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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