Executive Director, Southeast Asia
“Education is a multi-billion dollar industry that no one really knows about. Outside of the world of finance or the global oil trade, no other industry really moves people and currency across borders in quite the same way. At the same time, outside of the industry bubble, we don’t get as much as attention as we deserve.”
When did you join Grok?
Describe yourself in three words.
Energetic, driven, creative.
What were you doing before working at Grok?
Head of Partnership Development, Asia Pacific for the University of West of England (UWE), Bristol. I worked at UWE for the seven years before joining Grok, in a variety of roles that gave me chance to experience international student recruitment, agent management and partnership development working across the many different markets and regions including Africa and Asia.
My last role saw me providing strategic guidance and operational leadership for the Asia Pacific region and coordinating the development of specific TNE partnerships for the University. Before that, I managed the University’s presence in China for 4 years.
What was your first job in education?
Teaching English in Suzhou, China.
What does international education mean for you?
Education is a multi-billion dollar industry that no one really knows about. Outside of the world of finance or the global oil trade, no other industry really moves people and currency across borders in quite the same way. At the same time, outside of the industry bubble, we don’t get as much as attention as we deserve. It’s also transformative; studying abroad can literally change young people’s lives forever.
What is something interesting you have learned while working at Grok?
Our clients all have different needs, knowing where we can add value comes down to communication and having strong relationships with our Program Officers, and their managers within the institutions. Making sure that dialogue is always happening is crucial. Grok is working behind the scenes, looking at ways to continuously help improve our clients’ proposition in the market, no matter how successful they might already be.
What is one of the most satisfying outcomes you’ve helped a client to achieve?
We worked with an institution to help them establish recruitment-focused articulation agreements in China and Southeast Asian countries. This took the form of a research report, but we then set about shortlisting possible institutions that could become partners. We conducted desk research and reached out, by phone and in person, to universities and tertiary institutions across China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei and Vietnam. We examined competitor institutions and looked in-depth at case-studies of their successful articulation partnerships. We also analysed the relative ROI of pursuing partnerships in China versus Southeast Asia as well as the regulatory background of TNE in both regions.
The project gave the institution valuable insight into where they should target their efforts in developing partnerships with Asian institutions, and saved them time and resources in developing those initial links with potential partner institutions.
Why is it important for institutions to have a presence in China or SE Asia?
You can’t properly engage with some of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies at arm’s length. Being in-country makes a huge difference to your understanding of local contexts, shifting policy and regulatory environments as well as being better placed to reach out to potential applicants, partners and stakeholders.
What is your favourite movie?
The Empire Strikes Back
What is your dream travel destination? Why?
Java – to see the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, as a history buff I never get bored of looking around ruins of long-forgotten empires and cultures across Southeast Asia.
What is your favourite food to eat with friends?
Japanese, Steak, Korean BBQ.
What is something you’ve learned from somebody inspirational?
My grandfather used to say: “Don’t boil your onions in the rain”. It’s always resonated with me.