Yao Chen (MSc Human Resource Management 2015)

Yao Chen

Why did you choose Leeds University Business School?
The UK is an excellent choice for students pursuing a Master degree. For Chinese students, spending another three years to get a master degree in China could be too expensive, but it only takes one year in the UK.

The University of Leeds was first in the list of recommendations from my agency. Leeds is a quite big city with rich resources, not only for studying but also for living. Also, the University of Leeds has a good reputation among Chinese students, especially the Business School. 

One more thing, the pronunciation of ‘Leeds’ sounds like ‘chestnut’ in Chinese (Li Zi), which makes the name of this city seem to be more lovely and easy to remember!

Tell us about your course - why did you choose it?
I did two HR internships during my bachelor study. One was in VF Cooperation, a well-known American garment company that owns many famous and young brands, such as Lee, Wrangler, Vans, The North Face, Timberland, etc. The other was in Burberry, a British luxury brand. 

HR is an area worth studying for me, I have clear career aims and quite big ambitions.

What were the best things about your studies here – what did you enjoy the most?  
The most enjoyable part of my one year stay in Leeds was the magical friendships - yes, it is magical! Through all the presentations, group work and parties I made some good friends from the UK, Jamaica, Thailand, Japan and many other countries. They are amazing beyond description!

Did you win any awards, prizes or other achievements during your studies? Any notable achievements inside or outside your studies?
Yes, I was a member of the winning team of the ‘2015 Honeywell Challenge’. We were given a real and tough situation, which the Honeywell HR team were facing at that moment. After few weeks’ preparation, we presented our thoughts and answered relevant questions in front of our classmates and the Honeywell HR team.

For our prize, we were invited to visit the Honeywell HR team at their head office. They showed us the offices and factory, but my favourite part of the visit was the meeting we had with the HR team in the afternoon. They shared some case studies with us and explained how they managed HR issues in the company.

To me personally, it widened my horizons as I got the opportunity to see a real HR environment. The professional way they acted while dealing with those issues made me more certain that I could be an excellent HR professional in future. This memory will stay in my mind for ever.

How has your career progressed since leaving the business school? Have there been any notable highlights?
I believe that my experience in the Business School will benefit my career to a large extent. A Master degree from a famous university like the University of Leeds still means something in Chinese society. It is not the degree you obtain, but the real ability you have that makes you different.

I got my first formal job last week in C&A, a worldwide retail company that originated in the Netherlands. It is my pleasure to work as an HR Assistant there and I am grateful for the competitive salary. Thanks to my interest in making presentations in class, I perfectly presented myself to the interviewers at the final round. It feels great to win at the starting point, but it would never have been possible without my time spent in the Business School.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I was asked this question many times during interviews. When I answered ‘Ideally, to become an HR Manager in a well-known company when I am 30’. The interviewer always smiled and commented ‘Well… that is quite ambitious’!

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans
Yes. One of the most useful skills I developed at Leeds is the skill to deal with multiple tasks at the same time. Time was really limited and I had to plan it carefully and use it efficiently. After adapting to the real working environment, I still have dozens of tasks to fulfill, therefore this skill to manage different tasks is very helpful.

What would you say is your defining memory of studying here?
It would be the countless nights that we struggled for our essays. Writing essays may not be the most beautiful of memories during that year, but it is definitely one of the most unforgettable things when I look back. Success is not made in an instant – it is your hard work, little-by-little, paving your road to lead to success. In my point of view, writing those essays was just like paving my road to success.

Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?  
Surely I would. Studying in the Business School will set you free to choose the way of life that you prefer.