In a guest lecture for the Business Confucius Institute in November 2020, Leeds alumnus Guy Dru Drury gave us an insight into his successful career journey. In this post we explore the lessons Mandarin learners can take from his story.
From tour guiding to entrepeneurship, Guy’s career path has been far from linear, but he has taken valuable skills from each experience which he now actively uses in his role as Chief Representative in China for the Confederation of British Industry.
Starting his career
After graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in Chinese, Guy wasn’t sure of what he was going to do next, aside from his desire to continue to use his language skills. Guy decided to go back to Asia, where he spent a year deepening his love and knowledge of Chinese working as a tour guide in Taipei. This experience allowed him to nurture his passion for both Chinese culture and language, as well as gaining interpersonal skills.
From early on in his career, Guy recognised each of his experiences as stepping stones in his journey. Although a certain job may not have been a lifelong career for him, he took the value from each experience and gained important skills that he could use in his next venture. Working for an advertisement company in London promoting Beijing Jeep and Tiger beer was something that Guy had not considered as a career option, but being in a commercial environment and having a connection to China made this experience useful to him.
Guy has been able to take valuable skills from both his learning and working experience. Learning Mandarin taught Guy a ‘huge sense of resilience’, which has been incredibly beneficial to him in his working life. Learning to persevere when things get difficult and being able to adapt when outside of your comfort zone is invaluable in any career path.
Building and utilising your network
Guy found many of his experiences through meeting likeminded people and cultivating longstanding working relationships in each of his roles. Through building connections while working in London, he was able to find and create new opportunities for himself, including his next role working for an EFL organisation. His ability to form and navigate a network also enabled him to work closely with others successfully, going into partnership and creating an EFL consultancy firm in China.
The importance of cultural communication
Understanding the needs of different cultures was crucial in Guy’s later roles as he served as a link between UK and overseas companies. Whilst working for an investment company, Guy managed several overseas investments to the UK. Having gained insight into cultural differences from his time living and working in Asia, Guy was able to skillfully bridge gaps between cultures in the business environment.
Selling your skills
Guy highlights the importance of not only realising your personal skills but being able to sell them to potential employers or networks. He has been able to reflect on his career path and see what each role has given him, whether that was tenacity, patience, flexibility, or a helpful working relationship. Being able to articulate his particular skills has facilitated his success.
Guy’s ability to take the value from each of his roles and use his unique experience to drive himself forward has enabled him to form a successful career. The connecting factor throughout his journey was his passion for China and Chinese, and that pushed him to make the most out of each experience and develop his skills further.
To hear more about Guy’s story, watch his full talk on Facebook.