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Building a network and career as an expat in China

Wednesday 23 February 2022, 10:00 - 11:15 UK / 18:00 - 19:15 China
Online (Zoom)
Open to
All (University of Leeds students and staff, general public)

An all-female panel of expats currently working in Beijing share their tips and personal experiences to inspire others who want to start a career and build a network in China.

Nandini Venkata, Yasmin Cilt, Helena Javitte and Ella Kidron have all built successful careers in Beijing working in a range of industries including media, communications, startups and innovation. In this discussion they will share their experiences of building a network and career in China, providing inspiration and advice for others who are interested in pursuing opportunities there and discussing the impact that strong networks, language skills and cultural knowledge can have on your career.

The importance of relationships has come up in various Business Confucius Institute talks and case studies, with speakers emphasising the importance of chance encounters and strong networks at key points in their careers.

As active participants in their local professional community, our panel demonstrate what effective networking can look like in the real world. Their involvement with organisations like Beijing Women’s Network, Startup Grind and BARE is a model for others to learn from, and these groups may even become your first port of call if you decide to move to Beijing yourself!

Join us for encouragement and practical tips related to working in China.

Register via Eventbrite

More about our panel

Nandini Venkata

Nandini VenkataNandini Venkata works as the Senior Podcast Producer for Caixin Global, one of the most respected sources for macroeconomic, financial and business news and information about China. As part of this role, she produces and co-hosts the Caixin China Biz Roundup, where she reports on the biggest developments within the world’s second-largest economy. 

Outside of her work, Nandini is also heavily involved in the Beijing Women’s Network (BWN), a volunteer-led community that strives to support the professional and personal development of women. Having herself encountered challenges in her early career, Nandini is committed to supporting young female professionals overcome such obstacles by organizing mentorship programs as well as skills-based workshops. 

She is Indian-Irish, grew up in Germany and the UK, and lived in France, Austria and – of course - China as an adult. As a result of her multi-cultural background, Nandini has long been fascinated by different cultures and foreign languages. This ultimately inspired her to move to Beijing in 2011, where she has lived for more than seven years on and off.

She has bachelor’s degree in French and History from the University of Leeds and a master’s degree in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. 

Yasemin Cilt

Yasemin Cilt

Born and raised in Germany with Turkish roots, Yasemin leverages her multicultural background and passion to connect like-minded people and support international startups to connect to local resources and scale their businesses in Beijing.

As Beijing Chapter Director she leads one of the most active Chapters at Startup Grind, the world largest startup community. In her previous role as community manager at Startup Grind, Yasemin has supported Directors in more than 130 Chapters in APAC and the Middle East to build engaging communities. Now, she is leveraging her skills to lead the incubator uHub at Uniforward in Beijing.


Helena Javitte

Helena JavitteAs the China Innovation Manager at Accuracy, Helena is committed to helping international corporates better understand Chinese innovation and find the right match to create business opportunities, building-up on her previous experience at DayDayUp.

Combining a full-time activity with exciting side projects has always been her trademark regular lifestyle.

Helena has built her passion project called BARE, a safe space for people to be their true self and relate to each other in order to find the support they need to cope with the challenges of the modern world. BARE aims to connect people in safe spaces that allow them to remove their protective armor and share the truth behind the curtain of so-called success.

As former president at the French Lab, her main project was the launch of the Be Inspired Conferences meant to discover the real side of entrepreneurship.

Helena is incredibly passionate about fostering a broader culture of strength through vulnerability. Her goal would be to engage “high achievers” to inspire each other by encouraging them to share not only their successes but also their personal stories, what they’ve learnt from their challenges and support each other to achieve even higher goals together.

Helena has been involved with French Tech Beijing since 2016, the volunteer-based organization supported by the French Government, intended to promote French technologies and innovation. As the current president, she sees her role as a connector between the French and local players of the innovation ecosystem in China.

Ella Kidron

Ella KidronElla Kidron has over a decade of experience in global corporate communications in the US and China and has worked for a few Chinese companies. Ella started her career at Brunswick Group, a global boutique communications consultancy where she worked on dozens of multi billion dollar litigations, M&A transactions, IPOs, crises and more. Ella holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.

She is a former swimmer who competed for four years with the USC team, and then went on to the 2012 Olympic Trials, and has over 16 years of experience as a swim coach.

She has lived in Beijing for nearly six years and with the help of great teachers, colleagues and friends, is fully comfortable working bilingually in English and Chinese.

More about our event partners

Beijing Women's Network

Beijing Women's Network logoFounded in 2015, the Beijing Women’s Network (BWN) is a volunteer-run community that is dedicated to connecting women in Beijing to resources that can help them grow personally and professionally. Since its founding, BWN has grown into a community of over 5,000 active members and was awarded the WeWork Creator’s Award in 2018. The community has also hosted some prominent speakers including the legendary Dr. Jane Goodall, Jessica Cox, the world’s first armless pilot, Dr. Marissa Pei, celebrity host of iheartradio, and more.

Find out more

Startup Grind

startup grind logoStartup Grind is the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators. They bring like-minded yet diverse individuals together to connect, learn, teach, help, build, and belong. They do this daily through their local events, flagship conferences, startup program, partnerships, and online media + content - collectively reaching over 3.5 million individuals worldwide.

Visit the Startup Grind Beijing website


BARE logoBARE provides a safe space for people to be their true self and relate to each other in order to find the support they need to cope with the challenges of the modern world.

In a society encourages us to only share about our successes, put a mask on and only show our best side. But this leads to us comparing who we really are with the image that others are projecting to the outside world. Through conferences, workshops, panels, afterwork parties, dinners and interviews, BARE is an opportunity to dig deeper, to increase our empathy, compassion, and resilience by sharing and listening to the behind-the-scenes many rarely have a chance to express. BARE’s core mission is to foster a broader culture of strength through vulnerability.