Current Employer/Organisation Name
Department for International Trade
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
Since leaving Exeter I have done work experience in Shanghai with the China-Britain Business Council, and I have since worked in London for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, and Department for International Trade. The theme running through has always been international affairs, and I’ve been honing my career more towards international trade, where I now am.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
As someone who was born in Hong Kong, I’ve always been fascinated by international affairs, especially in East Asia. Through my work experience and first jobs I decided that the area of international trade was the most exciting niche of foreign affairs that I really wanted to work in. I like this career because you work with diverse people from different countries (plus regular travel to those countries is a big plus in this line of work), while representing the UK Government in going business with the governments of other countries. Working in international affairs in the Civil Service is exciting work and you have a lot of exposure to really senior people – Ambassadors, Ministers, CEOs and so on. In my current role I have helped to secure a Free Trade Agreement with one of the UK’s most important trading partners in Asia; in other positions at DIT I have written briefings and speeches for Ministers and Ambassadors. It’s very satisfying to see the Secretary of State stand at the podium and tell the audience words you’ve written, or do so in a meeting with a Secretary of State of another country.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
Exeter is a beautiful place and I loved my four years as a resident – when I go back to visit Exeter, which I try to do often, I make a beeline for Firehouse and the Impy, or in the summer for the Exe river valley. I also have nice memories of the university and the many societies – I was a musician and there was a very vibrant scene.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
It was well ranked (even more highly ranked now), both in general and for international politics, and it had a pretty campus.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
Languages are very useful. I’m not a linguist myself, so you can get by without, but having languages is a big plus. Work experience abroad is also extremely useful – my work experience in Hong Kong and Shanghai gave me real credibility in the job interview when I said I was passionate about working in this field. Being involved in international societies at university is also useful. I found the Masters engaging, and it really built my understanding of how the world works and what Britain’s place within it is (which is a complex question). With that sort of knowledge you can understand where the UK’s strengths lie and how to make best use of them, which is a vital talent for the Civil Service.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Work experience overseas is great if you can get it; if not, anything you can do to demonstrate your interest in that field (journalism, university societies, language clubs etc) will build a good base for a career in this field.
What are your plans for the future?
Onwards and upwards in the Civil Service. I am hoping to get a posting in one of the Embassies overseas in the next few years – a stint in Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Delhi, Bangkok, or somewhere like that would be (a) great for my career and (b) great for my life in general!