Jiayi (SKEMA 2018): "During my studies in France, I learned that anything is possible".

09 November 2023 INTERVIEW

Passionate about French culture, Jiayi chose to pursue her academic career in France after studying in China. That is how she came to join SKEMA Business School. She tells us about her experience at this renowned business school, about her professional development, and the key lessons she learned from the time she spent living in France.


Tell us a little about your educational background. Why did you choose to join SKEMA Business School?


I'm originally from Shenzhen, in southern China, and I studied French literature at Suzhou University. As part of an exchange programme with my Chinese university, I joined SKEMA Business School's MSc International Strategy and Influence (Economic Security track) in Paris in 2018. I was very interested in business and I was also keen to experience more of what life is like in France, where I had had the opportunity to travel for a short stay the previous year. I'm also passionate about the arts, literature and French culture, which is why I chose to study in France.


I was very interested in this master's programme, because it's a very rare specialisation, and there were no business schools offering similar programmes in China. At SKEMA Business School, this course was offered in collaboration with the École de Guerre in Paris. As a result, I got the opportunity to take some courses with the Paris Gendarmerie; it was a unique experience!


I have nothing but fond memories of my time at SKEMA! The teachers were very kind and patient, and they often spent extra time with us after class.


I was studying on the La Défense campus, which enabled me to immerse myself fully, on a daily basis, in the atmosphere of a real business district.


Tell us about your career path since SKEMA Business School?


After graduating from SKEMA Business School, I returned to China in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, which made it very tough for me to find a job. It was very difficult to find work at that time, both in France and in China. I sent out a large number of applications before landing my current position.


Today, I work as an Analysis Assistant at a Chinese bank in Beijing. I'm in charge of data and I analyse the projects in which we have invested.


What differences have you noticed between the French and Chinese management cultures? 


There are many! In China, employees are very often expected to work overtime at weekends, whereas this is much less frequent in France. I've also found that in France employees are fairly autonomous and are quite free to take initiatives, whereas in China it's essential to consult your superior before making any decisions. You always have to take into account the feelings and points of view of all the other departments, which makes professional relations more complex than in France.


I've also found that the French have a tendency to procrastinate! It's something I noticed a lot when working in groups during my studies. But I like the relaxed spirit of the French!


What did you get out of living in France?


I think that during my years in France and at SKEMA Business School, I developed a new mentality. Before coming to France, I was quite shy and found it hard to speak up. But during my studies at SKEMA Business School, I discovered the richness of interacting, of letting people get to know you, of creating friendships with people from different backgrounds... There are so many opportunities that can emerge from these encounters if you dare to reach out to others.


At SKEMA, I had the opportunity to meet many students, teachers and professionals, some of whom are true business geniuses! The professors all had field experience, which enabled me to develop skills directly connected to the reality of the business world.


I also learned that there are no right or wrong career decisions, that you mustn't limit yourself and that anything is possible if you put in the effort!


The dean of SKEMA Business School, Alice Guilhon, is my idol! It's so inspiring to see a woman at the helm of such a large business school with a global outlook and open to all cultures and countries. I think it's thanks to this outlook that SKEMA Business School has overtaken so many other business schools today.


What advice can you give international students to help them settle in France?


I think you have to realise that it's going to be difficult at first, but that things will keep getting easier if you choose to persevere and not give up. You have to have confidence in your abilities and dare to dream big!


Contact: Jiayi Miao, Analysis Assistant, Chinese private bank, Beijing

Interview by for SKEMA Alumni