Lingnan experience helps Yenson She pursue his dreams
Programme pursued at Lingnan University: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) (Major in Economics) 2008
Present career: Consultant, Lippincott; Head of Brand Strategy (volunteer), Givo
My deep listening skills, ability to empathise, and to build strong relationships with clients have developed relatively early in my career partly because of my liberal studies background.
As someone who embraces curiosity, the power of communication, and openness to new ways of thinking, Yenson She, brand strategy consultant at global consulting firm Lippincott, believes his study for the Bachelor’s Degree of Social Sciences with a major in Economics at Lingnan University plays an influential role in both his career and personal life.
Liberal arts learning sharpened empathy and thinking skills
While Yenson’s responsibilities as a brand consultant cover a number of diverse areas, it is vital that he is able to understand and interpret clients’ often complex requests, and articulate them into clear communication. Yenson explains that the skills and mindset he relies on focus on the ability to think critically and clearly in order to understand what people mean rather than what they say. “I believe my deep listening skills, ability to empathise, and to build strong relationships with clients have developed relatively early in my career partly because of my liberal studies background,” says Yenson, who credits the former President of Lingnan University, Prof Edward Chen, as the key person who inspired him to pursue his interests and dreams. “Not only is Prof Chen a wonderful teacher, he is a mentor for developing life skills,” Yenson notes.
According to Yenson, spending a term studying at Carleton College, Minnesota, US, a college renowned for its rigorous liberal arts curriculum - as part of Lingnan’s Student Exchange Programmes ( SEP ), was another defining experience in his academic and personal development. “I was welcomed and quickly immersed in a super-diverse learning environment with students from more than 40 countries,” he recalls. Importantly, he adds, learning and socialising with students from different cultures and beliefs was the foundation for many enlightening conversations. “These experiences have helped me to look at myself and decide what I want to be,” says Yenson.
Although at one time he considered pursuing a career in architecture, Yenson says he has no regrets about the academic and career choices he has so far made. He credits friends and mentors for encouraging him to pursue his bachelor’s at Lingnan. “They advised me that the liberal arts programmes offered by Lingnan fitted my character,” says Yenson, who agrees with this personality evaluation. For instance, while studying at Lingnan, he joined the Toastmasters Club, eventually becoming the president. “I stepped outside my comfort zone to take part in public speaking, I am glad I did so because it was such a fulfilling experience,” says Yenson, who also joined an arts programme. “I enjoyed arts studies so much, scoring good grades, that sometimes I wondered to myself if I were an arts student rather than an economics student,” Yenson says.
Chalking up achievement and success
A recent accomplishment Yenson is proud of is the success he and his team had in working with the senior management of a major Japanese automobile manufacturer to remodel internal and external strategies to reposition its brand in the mainland market. “Six months into the project the internal and customer surveys indicate a positive response, which is very satisfying,” says Yenson. Working as a volunteer, Yenson is also in the process of putting his professional skills to further use by helping charities to improve their branding by being the head of brand strategy for Givo, a recent start-up enterprise that operates as an all-in-one platform via a mobile app designed to connect the world of charitable giving. “On the one hand, while liberal arts programmes inspire you to look at, and be genuine about, yourself, you also become more mindful of the needs of society and the realisation that you need to help where you can,” notes Yenson, who graduated from Lingnan in 2008 and continued his postgraduate education by completing a full-time MBA programme at the Cambridge Judge Business School, at the University of Cambridge in Britain, specialising in marketing and strategy. “The Cambridge MBA provided me with the exposure and inspiration from other students from different professional and cultural backgrounds, which helped to take me to the next level towards what I want to achieve,” says Yenson, who served as marketing director, finance officer and co-leader at several TEDx conferences, as well as corporate relations officer for the Cambridge Business School Club while being an MBA student.
At a time when employers frequently stress the desire to recruit employees who have a broad knowledge base and can work together to solve problems, communicate, and think critically, Yenson believes that a liberal studies programmes helps prepare individuals for interesting careers in the 21st-century workplace. He also feels that employers sometimes have misconceived opinions about the work and career motivation of members of the Millennial generation. “Many Millennial people, much like myself, want to be proactive and effective, but we want to use our creativity and knowledge to make a positive difference in society, and are less driven by the desire to become millionaires,” explains Yenson, a strong advocate of the importance of maintaining a manageable work-life balance. To help him relax, reflect and make important decisions, he has been a student of meditation for about 10 years, incorporating it into his daily activities and leisure time. “Some people like to go to places with a beach for their holidays, but I prefer visiting a retreat where I can meditate,” says Yenson.