Ariel from China, business founder and marketing director
Yue Mingjia (Ariel)
From: Shanghai, China
Studied: MSc Finance and Economics at the University of Southampton
Now: Managing Partner and founder of YIJIA Culture Communication (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
‘Today I stepped into the film studio at 8.30am with 10 people and four dogs – a golden retriever, a poodle, a shih tzu and a pug. They were the stars of this commercial, for a major pet toy company in Shanghai.
‘I never stopped working, from the preliminary client briefing to the post-production meeting with the director, the chief editor and the client, until the editors pronounced the film a wrap – and I called it a day for myself and headed home to feed and walk my own two lovely dogs.’
Ariel came to the UK from China in 1999 to do an MSc in Finance and Economics at the University of Southampton.
Today, she is Managing Partner at YIJIA Culture Communication in Shanghai, the marketing company she set up in 2009.
In those five years, the company has expanded from PR services to commercial video production, and become a major name in Chinese television advertising.
During that time Ariel has also opened a café, which she ran for two years before selling the business at a profit, been PR manager for the Global Health and Education Foundation’s 2013 Global Natural History Day, worked with Beijing marketing company SlinQueen to help them develop business in Shanghai, and cooperated with senior international trainers in a cross-cultural training programme for companies hoping to invest abroad.
‘The entrepreneurial and networking experience I had in the UK and the skills I gained in my degree have helped me a lot in PR and marketing, as well as in my business career,’ Ariel says.
Top contacts: Ariel with Richard Branson
at an Entrepreneurship Roundtable event
(Picture: Ariel Yue)
‘I know about exploiting resources, making good use of social media and finding business opportunities.’
Having majored in International Business and English for her undergraduate degree in Shanghai, Ariel decided to go abroad for further study and was drawn to the UK’s international reputation.
‘I chose the UK because it is a world financial centre and I wanted to build my knowledge in a native English environment to improve my language skills,’ Ariel says.
‘Now I speak fluent English and am used to different accents thanks to my classmates from all over the world.'
'I have seen directly how employers have found this background valuable and useful.
'When I worked for my first employer, I was the only one who could fully understand my Spanish director, English VP and French financial controller, and my communication skills have proved invaluable when meeting international clients and dealing with cross-cultural projects in my work too.’
International spirit: Ariel with philanthropist Kenneth Behring at the Global Health Education Foundation's Global Natural History Day 2013 (Picture: Ariel Yue)
Ariel was offered her first job in China as soon as she got back from the UK – as project manager at Alcatel-Lucent (formerly Alcatel Shanghai Bell), a multinational telecommunications company with more than 7,000 employees.
She became overseas project financial controller, responsible for the management reports of all overseas projects.
And when, after several years, she decided to strike out on her own and set up her own PR company in YIJIA Culture Communication, she found herself drawing again on the skills she had honed during her time in the UK.
‘At university in the UK, I had more flexible teaching and learning than in China, which I really enjoyed,' she says.
‘I had a lot more free time to read and understand what teachers emphasised in their classes, and doing essays helped me expand my searching and analysing abilities.
‘We did a lot of group work on business case studies too, which was a good way to learn and practise teamwork and presentation skills, especially for me as a Chinese student unused to this kind of teaching.
'These were learning experiences that I’ve never forgotten throughout my life.’
Both during and since her time in the UK, Ariel has been engaged in extra-curricular projects and activities to build professional networks – and maintain friendships.
She volunteers at British Council Shanghai events including pre-departure briefings for students coming to the UK, and in 2005 she founded the Southampton Alumni Association China.
‘My advice to students who want to do marketing or business is to be proactive in team working and do all kinds of tasks,’ she says.
Student life: Ariel at Southampton
(Picture: Ariel Yue)
‘You need to be open-minded, sociable, entrepreneurial, practical and creative.
‘Also,’ she adds, ‘go travelling! Travel within the UK and in Europe as much as you can.
‘All these experiences will open up your eyes and broaden your views.
‘I not only obtained my master's degree in the UK: I truly became independent and mature.’
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