Why did you choose UNYP for your Bachelor of Business Administration program?
I did my first semester of studies in the UK, and after that, I wanted to be more central, so I decided to continue my education in mainland Europe. I took six months off and went back home to China to take a Chinese course and spend some time with my family. Meanwhile, I was looking at different universities in the EU, and by chance, my father’s friend, who studied medicine at Charles University, came to visit us in China. He enjoyed his time in Prague as a student and recommended that I look into the city as a place to study.
I went for it, and the whole process was rapid – I applied less than two months before the beginning of the semester, and the rest is history.
You have a great deal of international experience. In comparison to all the other places where you have lived and studied, how did you find Prague? And what made you want to stay?
I grew up all over the place, and I love to travel. I tend to feel locked in and claustrophobic when staying in one place for too long. Prague is very central, and it is easy to get to so many places from here, even with a four-hour train ride. You can get to almost anywhere in Europe over the weekend. Also, the quality of life here is pretty good – the cost of living is still relatively lower than in other European capitals, and the city is a perfect size. There’s everything you could want to do, and so many parks – it feels very green, not noisy or rushed all the time. Prague is also surrounded by excellent nature if you like hiking, canoeing, or biking.
Immediately after graduating, I moved to Vienna to do my Master’s degree in International Management. At that point, I knew that I wanted to stay in Prague long-term, at least for the time being, so that a Master’s degree would be my last opportunity to live somewhere else for a year. I looked for a job there, but the options were limited because I don’t speak German. And then I got a message from Jeff Medeiros, a UNYP professor who is also one of the founders of Keastone, saying that the CEO of Keastone would like to meet me to discuss a potential opportunity in their company, so I came back to Prague for an interview. While still in Vienna, I started working for Keastone part-time, doing market analysis, and other things that I could do remotely. And when I came back to Prague, I joined the company full-time.
How did you choose your degree?
My parents have a couple of businesses in China. Growing up, I found it interesting to see how they resolved business problems that came up. At the age of 15-16, I decided that I wanted to follow their example, so I chose the General Business Administration program, to have more options after graduating.
What do you love most about your work, and what are the biggest challenges?
Part of growing up in different places is having to deal with the fact that your family is very spread out around the world. My immediate family, parents, and older brother live in China. I have family in Israel where I was born, much of my mother’s family is in Romania, and some of the family on my father’s side live in the Netherlands. I need to be able to visit all of them a few times a year, so I appreciate the flexibility of my job. As long as I have my computer, I can work remotely for some time. Our team is very international, especially for a startup in the pre-selling stage. We have entities on three different continents – in the US, the Czech Republic, and India – and I enjoy working with an international team. I grew up with friends from everywhere, and that’s the environment I am used to. I don’t like to be tied to one culture.
In terms of challenges, as the Head of Accounting and Operations for a company with three international entities, the volume of work is quite extensive. Managing accounting and operations in three different continents is a 360-day kind of job. Although I manage to travel a lot and spend time with my family, it’s tough to take any real time off work, as I usually end up working remotely while I travel. Taking time off work is the biggest challenge, but I knew what I was signing up for – I genuinely believe in what the company is doing, which makes it easier to dedicate the time and energy required.
How does it feel to work for your former professor?
I’m not just saying this because I work for Jeff right now, but he was one of my favorite professors at UNYP. My direct reporting manager is the CEO, who is his business partner. But we all get along well, and they allow me the flexibility that’s important to me, so the work environment fits my needs.
What advice could you give to current UNYP students about finding their first jobs?
This advice may seem obvious, but if you want to get the most out of your degree, be a good student. Take extra steps to do a little more than you are expected because this is the only way to stand out. I’m not too fond of the word networking; I find it to be a little fake, and I don’t particularly appreciate the idea of talking to people only for the sake of trying to get something out of the interaction. But for the lack of a better word, use your time at school to work on expanding your network.
So many UNYP professors are not just academics; they run businesses and companies and have extensive networks of their previous students in their respective industries. When you are out looking for a job, they can help; if they remember you favorably, they can recommend you without worrying about what it could do to their reputation. Also, try to get some work experience while you are at school.
I made the mistake of not doing enough, only a few smaller internships, and it was quite difficult to find a first job in Vienna because lots of places require some experience already. Although I had good grades and two diplomas from well-known schools, it’s not always enough, so I would recommend getting some work experience while you are studying. This will make it easier to start a job at a higher level.