Wei Zhang

Wei Zhang

Why did you choose Leeds University Business School?
Leeds University Business School is in the top 1% of business schools worldwide. It is famous in China and recognised for its high quality of teaching. I knew I could learn up-to-date business knowledge here. Also Leeds is targeted by many major employers for recruiting talent. There are lots of company speaker events and co-operated research projects, thus I could benefit from these events to strengthen my employability. 

Tell us about your course - why did you choose it? 
There were several reasons that I chose the MA Human Resource Management. Firstly, my undergraduate major was Business Administration and Human Resource Management was one of my favorite main courses. I believe that the most valuable capital in today’s age is people and the key for companies to succeed is to make best use of their people. I perceived that the knowledge provided by this course would be very useful for me to understand the business world. 

The second reason was that I had a Human Resource Management summer internship in a listed Chinese real estate company before I came to Leeds. Through that experience I thought studying this course could equip me with modern knowledge and concepts of Human Resource Management, which could be applied into a practical working environment. 

In the third place, MA Human Resource Management at Leeds is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the only HR institution in the world to recognise HR professionals through chartered membership. Therefore, studying this course would provide me with a promising career as a HR professional in the future.

What were the best things about your studies here – what did you enjoy the most?  
What I enjoyed most was the international learning environment. I loved the different ideas and thoughts during seminars and other group studies. My classmates were multi-cultural so I saw different learning styles and thinking patterns. I believe creative solutions to problems usually came from diversity and inclusiveness. Outside study, we also shared our cultures respectively, had international food day, a fancy ball and other interesting activities together. We helped each other both in study and life. I made lifelong friends from all over the world. 

Another thing was the lecturers and staff, who were very nice and friendly. They answered my questions patiently, cared about my academic performance, gave me guidance and useful career suggestions, and always thought ‘in the students’ shoes’. 

Another thing I’d like to highlight was the Careers Centre on campus, where students can get free career consulting. With their support, I polished my CVs and cover letters, participated in some workshops to improve my interview and assessment center skills. The Careers Centre website provided students with many job opportunities and they also organise recruitment fairs regularly for students to make connections with employers.

Did you win any awards, prizes or other achievements during your studies? Any notable achievements inside or outside your studies?
I completed a Human Resource Management research project provided by the UK headquarters of Toronto-Dominion Bank Group (TD Bank) successfully. Only two students from my cohort took this project. My job was to critically evaluate the recruitment and selection processes. It aimed to find out the best practice to attract talents from a diverse pool and improve their recruitment experience.

This project aimed to investigate how diversity issues emerge in website recruitment process which may influence racial and ethnic minority candidate recruitment experience and to explore the best practice to build a positive candidate journey. Based on the diversity management approach, this research used 10 semi-structured interviews and secondary data analysis to achieve the research purposes.

I identified three key diversity problems within their recruitment and selection process, and produced a 40-page business report for TD Direct Investing. I successfully persuaded the HR managers to adopt my suggested best practice for improving their recruitment process.

How has your career progressed since leaving the business school? Have there been any notable highlights?
I came back to China last November and spent around two months job searching. I received around 20 interview invitations and seven offers were made, including some famous companies such as Accenture, 3M and Sanofi. I chose 3M China to start my career as a secretary of General Manager West Region because this job was full of challenges, could broaden my horizon and develop my multi-skills. 

My current work includes liaising between the China West Region General Manager, four regional business leaders and 107 employees, managing daily sales data and producing monthly sales report, and supporting departments including Operations, Legal, HR and Marketing.

Apart from my formal work, I also established a non-governmental organisation called T-Space English Salon in my hometown Chengdu (Thinking Space English Salon). T-Space English Salon is a local "TED". I worked together with another three team members with a common goal. That is to build a place for people to eliminate social segregation through face-to-face communication, spread ideas and promote arts projects. Every Sunday afternoon, various topics such as music, philosophy, diverse cultures, dramas, movies, the hottest social topics etc. will be shared and discussed in English. 

Apart from these, I attempt to maintain and develop relationships with various partners. For example, we supported the 6th Chinese Sci-fi Nebula Awards and accompanied Marvel Comics' Chengdu visit in October 2015. The event was a great success. Another example was collaborating with YOU ART association to organise speeches about social innovation and talked with Royal Court Theatre of London about Chinese young drama writers.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I am planning to have a MBA degree in the near future, when I accumulate enough work experience. After that I want to have my own team and run a social business. I want to do something to change or improve people’s lives. I believe the greater the ability, the greater the responsibility in the future.

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans?
Sure. I developed critical thinking through my study, which is helping me to do things in a logical way and always attempt to find better solutions for problems. I also learned to use evidence to support my ideas. This skill will be beneficial for my future MBA study. 

Another important skill I gained was cross-cultural communication skills and team working skills. For example, I had part-time jobs at a Chinese-UK education company located in Leeds Innovation Centre, completed a research project with the multinational company TD Bank and also did some group presentations with international classmates. These experiences have influenced me to really want to work in an international working environment, or run a business with diverse people in the future. Apart from these, I fostered strong presentation skills and I learnt how to attract audiences in a more vivid and impressive way.

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself?
Leeds has world-class facilities. All rooms in the Business School have the newest audio-visual technology and presentation equipment. It’s great to have free Wi-Fi access anywhere on campus.  I loved the roof terrace, which is a good place for discussion and relaxation. And I could enjoy international food at the University’s cafeteria as well as the Business School’s café. 

In addition to the state- of-the-art facilities, what I love most are the people there. Staff are friendly, kind and responsible, especially my professional development tutor and my personal tutor - they gave me lots of support and career guidance. With their help, I became clear about what I really want to do and what I’m really good at. 

As for my peers, it’s good to have people from different cultures around. We studied together for a common group goal. The Students’ Union often organised interesting activities. I have wonderful memories and had great fun at the last Leeds Ball. 

Although I travelled to many cities in the UK (London, Manchester, Sheffield, Cambridge and Edinburgh), my favourite UK city is Leeds. Why? Because it’s a live-able and student-friendly city. Leeds is an attractive city, surrounded by beautiful countryside. I could entertain myself at a number of theatres and cinemas, Leeds City Museum and the Gallery. 

I am a music fan and there are some major music festivals in Leeds every year. For overseas students, especially Asian students, there was a big Chinese supermarket where you could buy almost everything from your own country. Some local supermarkets also supplied Asian food, so it’s very easy to buy the food you love. 

Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?  
I will definitely recommend students choose the University of Leeds, and especially Leeds University Business School, to prepare for their future. I gained a lot here.