Morgan Edwards: UK
Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, JSTI Group
Before my MSc, I had completed an undergraduate degree in Ancient History and was thinking about how I could add further value to my CV, primarily by taking on a Master’s program with a focus on business.
I chose to study at the University of Liverpool Management School for several reasons. Firstly, the course structure seemed more attractive when compared to other courses I had considered. There was a clear international element to the course along with a broad range of modules that would allow me to not only get a strong understanding of HR, but also the wider aspects of business. Secondly, Liverpool had always attracted me as a city. Whenever I had visited, I always felt there was an exciting buzz, people were friendly and there was a strong “community feel” across the city.
The careers advisers are all very knowledgeable and willing to sit down and discuss options with you, even if you are someone like me who never really knew what they wanted to do. The centre is full of helpful employment resources and they also offer useful services like CV checks and recruitment events. I would recommend that students make sure they engage with them.
I have now gone on to work for a leading Chinese engineering design firm called JSTI Group (苏交科 – pronounced Su Jiao Ke). We mainly work on the design and delivery of transportation infrastructure projects along with environmental protection solutions, however, our business is expanding rapidly to include new industries and technologies such as Smart Cities and AI. My role is quite diverse but can be broken down into 3 core elements. Firstly, I am the Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Board. In this role, I mainly act as an advisor on key political, economic, investment and infrastructural developments in Western markets. This helps guide our company strategy as we look to become a globally recognized brand. Secondly, I work in Corporate Development, identifying growth opportunities for the business whilst keeping an eye on developments in the industries we serve, such as the introduction and application of new technologies. This part of my work largely focuses on overseas mergers & acquisitions, building strategic partnerships and helping to manage and maintain positive relationships with our overseas subsidiaries. The final major element of my work is Global Business Development. Here, I am largely focused on building long-term growth opportunities for the company whilst enhancing our reputation internationally.
My current role is not an HR focused position, however there are certainly some elements of my work that get me thinking about the knowledge and skills I acquired during my studies. Particular modules such as “Conflict Management”, “Business Leadership”, “Managing Finance” and “Strategic Learning & Development” have all been useful throughout my career in helping to overcome challenges in the office. I have even referred to my final thesis several times, with a number of employers taking particular interest, as the topic was on “Transformational Leadership”.
The one year I spent in Liverpool was the most important period of my entire education. Although I did not go on to pursue a career in HR, the skills, knowledge and connections that I made during my MSc were fundamental in shaping my future. I grew so much, both professionally and personally, and was able to come away from the course feeling like I had accomplished a great deal, satisfied in my decision to study there. Everyone’s experience will of course be unique, but in my case, the international make up of my classmates proved to be the most influential aspect of my time in Liverpool. This was not something I had considered beforehand, yet in hindsight I see it as being crucial to my own development whilst also being important for all future students.
The majority of my classmates, and housemates, happened to be Chinese. Through connecting with them on a daily basis, I steadily became more and more interested in learning about China, its culture, language and history and to understand why all of a sudden it was dominating the headlines. It was through the friends I made whilst in Liverpool, that I was encouraged to give working in China a try. Five years later, I’m still here enjoying every minute.
My advice to prospective students is to be open-minded and actively pursue the opportunity to study with and meet people from different cultures, backgrounds and nationalities. Take it one step further and try picking up a bit of language too. There is a Confucius Institute that offers Mandarin courses just round the corner from the Management School. Failing that, Liverpool is a truly international city and finding someone who speaks a language you would like to learn wouldn’t be hard.
As our world is becoming ever more connected, the workforce of the future will need to be comfortable working, connecting and communicating with people from other parts of the globe. People would tell me this back in 2012, however 6 years on, it is more important than ever before.
I look back very fondly on my time in Liverpool and see my time there as one of the most formative periods of my life. As a city, Liverpool is a fantastic place to be a student. It is big enough to have that “city buzz” yet small enough not to feel too intimidating. The nightlife, food, history, culture and entertainment along with the transport links to the rest of the country are all excellent.