Irene Wang - Grok Global

Leadership Team

Irene Wang

Research Manager

“With so much competition going on in key Asian markets like China and Southeast Asia, the more engaged an institution is with the local market, the easier it is for them to fight for student’s attention.”

Contact Irene Wang

Irene Wang is the Research Manager at Grok. Based in Beijing, Irene oversees research and advisory projects in China, Southeast Asia and India. Since joining Grok, Irene has helped over 15 institutions and government bodies from the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand to assess their international recruitment, partnership and engagement strategies. She also works in developing a systematic and data-oriented approach to benchmark institutions’ performance in international markets. Previously, Irene worked as a research analyst in the healthcare industry, she holds an MPP from the College of William and Mary in the US.

Get to know Irene…

When did you join Grok?
October 2018

Describe yourself in three words.
Trustworthy, diligent, idealistic.

What were you doing before working at Grok?
I was working in a start-up company doing education product design.

What was your first job in education?
My job before Grok was actually my first job in education, although I worked on and off as a part-time English teacher in college and graduate school. I was on a path to become a healthcare policy researcher before joining a friend’s start-up company in education. I got hooked with the fact that education is something so familiar and yet there’s so much to it you don’t know, and decided this is the industry I want to dive deep in.

What does international education mean for you?
As a beneficiary of international education, it is personally a life-changing experience. I always believe that the essence to education is not the content that is taught, as one would forget most of it in a matter of time, but the way of thinking, the approaches to a difficult problem, and the general perception towards life. International education brought the best and most challenging education opportunity to students at their prime age. Those who are brave enough to take it will for sure achieve something meaningful.

What is something interesting you have learned while working at Grok?
That so many Grokkers who interacts daily with international clients do not drink coffee! I can’t wrap my mind around that! (Just kidding) The most interesting thing I’ve learned at Grok is actually how a truly open company culture can stimulate effective communication and coordination between employees. All Grokkers that I’ve met are super nice and helpful, and willing to share however much them know about the industry.

What is one of the most satisfying outcomes you’ve helped a client to achieve?
Although still in progress, the project that I am working on has brought the most satisfying outcomes. It is a very comprehensive market scoping project on the technical and vocational education market in Greater China. In the process of the research, we’ve interviewed over 50 stakeholders from both China and the client’s home country. The research will provide a reference to the entire country’s vocational education collaboration strategies and priorities with China, ranging from government to government collaborations to institutional partnerships and commercial opportunities.

Why is it important for institutions to have a presence in Asia?
We are no longer living in a world where foreign institutions seem distant and mysterious to students. Just a few years ago, students can only get to know a foreign institution through agency counsellors, previous students, or a few pieces of information on the Internet. In today’s market, however, most institutions are actively reaching out and introducing themselves to students, through social media, online and physical events or in-country staff. With so much competition going on in key Asian markets like China, India, and Southeast Asia, the more engaged an institution is with the local market, the easier it is for them to fight for student’s attention.

What is your favourite movie?
Boyhood, by Richard Linklater

What is your dream travel destination? Why?
Europe has been on my travel wish list for quite some time. I’m hoping to take a long vacation and tour the entire continent, experiencing in-depth the history, arts, music and culture of different countries.

What is your favourite food to eat with friends?
Brunch on weekends! Especially on Saturday morning when you can eat and chat all the way till the afternoon without any guilt because the weekend is just starting.

What is something you’ve learned from somebody inspirational?
I read Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming earlier last year and was really inspired by the concept of lifelong personal growth. Growing up is not finite, it’s a process, and a series of becoming.

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.