"Greetings from Nanjing!
With spring semester having just begun, I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the recently completed SAIS Asia Career Trek while also looking forward to upcoming events at the Center.
Over the winter holiday, SAIS Career Services Director Ron Lambert and I had the good fortune of accompanying 20 students from the HNC and SAIS to participate in the 7th Annual Asia Career Trek. The Asia Career Trek is a week long educational experience, whereby students have the opportunity to travel to Shanghai and Hong Kong to meet with representatives from a variety of companies, including APCO, Wells Fargo, Bain, Citi, Goldman Sachs, and Deloitte to name a few. While all the representatives offered unique experiences and backgrounds, one thing they all had in common was a commitment to helping students in their career development.
The Trek began in Shanghai with a visit to Pudong to Wells Fargo to meet with Han Lin, Senior Vice President of Global Banking. Mr. Lin is a SAIS alumnus who, prior to a career in finance, served both US Marine Corps and the Peace Corps. His experience in China coupled with his natural gift as a teacher made for a fascinating presentation, which included discussion about issues surrounding the convertibility of China’s currency and how international banks operate within China.
Following our meeting with Mr. Lin, we visited Nicobar, where HNC alumni Andrew Forrester and Matt Shernit hosted us to learn about working for a nuclear consulting company. Nicobar provides knowledge of China’s nuclear energy policies and regulations to North American and European companies looking to build facilities in China. During their presentation, they presented us with information about the entire nuclear fuel cycle: from mining to disposal.
Our next stop was to meet with HNC Alumnus Morgan Keldsen who works as the China/Asia Pacific Senior Product Business Director at Converse. During this meeting, Mr. Keldsen showed us many exciting Converse products, such as customized converse all-stars that were made for pop stars. Mr. Keldsen shared that he began his career in China in a hotel management-training program, just before he transitioned to Nike. After spending many years with Nike, where he held positions like “GM for Basketball Asia/Pacific,” he came to Converse where he has been since 2008. Mr. Keldsen epitomizes the advice he gave our students, which was to find what you enjoy and do it with passion.
HNC Students with HNC Alumnus, Morgan Keldson
After our visits on Monday, the Shanghai Alumni Club hosted Trek participants at T8 in Xintiandi. During this reception, students had an opportunity to meet alumni and learn how they have been able to leverage their HNC education for various career paths. Additionally, students got to see the Xintiandi site, which was developed by another Asia Trek host, Shui on Land. As we would learn in our visit to Shui on Land, the developers wanted to preserve the 19th century “shikumen” (stone gate) architecture in developing the site. Today, it is one of China’s most fashionable and successful shopping districts and proved to be the perfect site for our alumni reception.
Following our visits in Shanghai, we flew to Hong Kong to begin the second leg of our Trek. Our Hong Kong leg of the Trek was incredibly intense; 12 visits in three days. Although all of the visits featured unique companies, one thing that was consistent was they all had hired alumni from the SAIS community. Whether the company focuses on financial services, such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse, or media and public relations like APCO and the Economist, or Consulting such as Bain; all these organizations had members of the HNC and SAIS community serving in various positions.
Coming back to the Center, there are many exciting events coming up. On March 14, we will hold our annual Career Day in Shanghai. Career Day is a day-long career seminar where students participate in industry panels to learn about various fields and organizations, while establishing relationships with members of our alumni community and beyond. That evening we will host an alumni reception for our alumni to network with one another, make new friends, and meet this year’s graduating class.
Shortly after Career Day, Beth Keck, the Senior Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at Wal-Mart, will come to the Center to teach a course on Corporate Social Responsibility. In addition to being a SAIS alumna, Ms. Keck is the keynote speaker for this year’s Career Day and has spent significant amount of time in China throughout her career, representing organizations such as Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.
April’s arrival means spring break at the HNC. During this time we’ll conduct the annual Beijing Trek, from April 1-4. For this trek, we will bring 20 HNC students to Beijing to meet with employers largely focused in media, non-profit and, government. Among the employers we’ll be visiting this year are Greenpeace, the Gates Foundation, the US-China Business Council, the US Embassy, and Weber Shandwick. We will also have an opportunity to meet with our Beijing alumni community, who always knows how to make visitors from Nanjing feel welcome."