Many outstanding entrepreneurs and talents have been active in various industries amongst the UIC graduates. On 6 April 2020, Food Science and Technology (FST) invited seven alumni to share their entrepreneurial experiences after graduation. The sharing session was chaired by the Director of the FST programme, Prof Xu Baojun.

Fan Xuebin (2011 graduate): Experience in the catering e-commerce industry

The 2011 FST alumni Fan Xuebin is now a key account manager at Zhengzhou Qianwei Central Kitchen Food Co., Ltd., a quick-frozen food manufacturer.

The theme of his talk was 'Experience sharing in catering B2B industry' and he shared the background of the catering e-commerce industry with students as well as his personal work experiences.

Fan Xuebin shared key industry development elements with students who are interested in catering B2B. He shared the ways to enhance the price-performance ratio, how to improve supply chain efficiency and responsiveness and also the importance of distribution channel system.

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Regarding career development, he suggested that students should consider both personal interests and professional development comprehensively with a long-term perspective, in the sense that "Many popular occupations may no longer exist in about 10 years."

He believes that UIC's diverse culture, international perspective, humanistic curriculum, interactive teaching features, as well as English learning environment would allow students to develop their all-round abilities and establish a set of self-learning skills and working styles suitable for themselves.

Guan Zicong (2014 graduate): Sustainable development of a company

The 2014 FST alumni Guan Zicong has become a founding member of Travel Tao Technology, Ltd.

Travel Tao Technology is an internet presence provider that provides innovative services for foreign exchange. Its xCurrency app has accumulated over 90 million clients worldwide.

Zicong is working in the operation and business process management section which is responsible for optimisation of the capital chain and business process to ensure smooth and efficient business operation.

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Guan Zicong shared his experience of how to build up a professional team of more than 40 employees from a team with only 10 starters. He also explained the transformation of their services from travel arrangement to foreign exchange, aiming to provide an innovative experience to students who want to start their business.

He said that, whether graduates want to set up a business or to get a job, a contingency plan (Plan B) is essential in the changing business world.

Moreover, he mentioned that UIC's whole-person development and mentor caring programme offers construction-related knowledge and techniques so students can realise their full potential and made a difference.

He said: "UIC provided an excellent platform for me to widen my global vision and left space for me for further development."

Chen Yanbing (2014 graduate): Demystifying the food manufacturing industry

Once Chen Yanbing had graduated from FST, she and her family founded the Guangdong Zhengjian Likefood Biological Technology Co., Ltd. and Guangdong Magic Bone Biological Food Technology Co., Ltd.

The company has established Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standard workshops to produce ultrafine comminution and probiotics. She shared her experiences in the preparation and investment of hardware and software throughout her entrepreneurship process.

Additionally, Yanbing explained to the students how she applied the knowledge from UIC to her work in the food manufacturing industry. She said that the knowledge she learned in the classes was an inspiration and was helpful to use in real-life business opportunities.

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Regarding entrepreneurship, she mentioned that there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. However, failure is the stepping stone to success. If you can withstand the worst results, you can gain a lot of valuable experience.

She believed that the future of employment in the food industry is excellent and the cross-speciality knowledge learned in UIC will help graduates to adapt their work to the changing nature in different industries efficiently.

Lin Xin (2014 CST graduate): Adhering the spirit of craftsman

The CST alumna Lin Xin is now engaged in food-related work. Six years after graduating from UIC, she founded Guangyun Shuangbao (Chenpi Ganpu), Guangfu Xindao (Fuding White Tea), Xusheng Tea (Mid-term Pu'er Tea Trading Platform) in her family business' Wanfang Cha Yuan brand.

Her major job duties are the company's strategic positioning, team building, channel building, and brand promotion.

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Lin Xin shared the theme of entrepreneurship and innovation spirit with the students. She believes that it is necessary to "plough deep" into the job industry: adhere to the spirit of craftsmen, constantly explore and find out the best business model, and also to find out and solve the weakness of the industry and provide new concepts and models.

She also said: "UIC has given me a good international perspective and self-management planning abilities."

She also suggested that the upcoming college graduates should firstly find out their positions in a society based on their interests and abilities and make a good career plan based on that. At the same time, they should pay attention and understand the global trends of development in different industries and explore future development opportunities.

Sheng Huizhong (2015 FST graduate): Jumping out of your comfort zone

Sheng Huizhong is currently a research assistant at the Shenzhen Institute of Standards and Technology, responsible for food safety risk communication and drafting of food standards for Shenzhen.

At the same time, she also took her spare time to start her own business and established a travel consulting platform called Travel Africa. This travel consulting platform provides travellers with exclusive information for all-round travel in Africa and answers their queries during their journey.

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She shared her experiences as a first-time entrepreneur. A start-up project was created when her team reached Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa. After that, they finished company registration, team building, and website establishments such as construction and media operations.

She summarized three essential elements that needed to be considered when starting a new business: firstly, know your audience and know their problems; secondly, can your service/product solve their problems? Thirdly, do customers have the willingness to spend more to buy your services/products compared with other services?

For career and future development, she suggested that students should have a good balance between their "input and output: in their work. Only when the input (learning) and output (disbursement) are balanced, they can then develop better in their job and business.

She also said that UIC's learning experience allowed her to focus on her work in a professional area, and she can also jump out of her comfort zone and be brave to explore areas she has never tried.

Lin Mingkang (2016 FST graduate): Adopting a good mentality

Lin Mingkang joined the Tai Er Sauerkraut Fish company under the Jiu Maojiu Group in August 2019. After passing the Management Trainee Programme, he took up the store assistant manager position. He is mainly responsible for restaurant operations, interview recruitment, equipment maintenance, employee training, etc.

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He shared his experiences about the company's personnel training system and the changes in the mode of business of Tai Er Sauerkraut fish store, which changed from "eat-in" to "take away" business during the virus outbreak.

He suggested that upcoming graduates should participate more in social practice during college life and be in line with society. When stepping into society, you need to change your mentality and adapt to the unexpected differences between your work and your expectations.

He believes that UIC's learning experience allows him to not only gain professional knowledge in the food discipline but also build up many lasting professional relationships, those are very important resources in future work and life.

Fu Yin (2019 FST graduate): Exploring areas of expertise

After graduation in 2019, Fu Yin joined Zhongshan Indian Kitchen Food Co. LTD founded by UIC's 2012 FST alumnus Richard Antonio (An Jiale). An Jiale is running a new business with Fu Yin now. Fu Yin is responsible for warehouse management, OA system management, and WeChat operations.

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She introduced her career path and experiences to the students and explained that during the year she accumulated work experience while hoping to explore areas she was good at to have better planning for her career and life path.

Fu Yin also said that at UIC she gained teamwork and self-learning abilities and she thinks that self-learning is essential to enrich her in work in future.

The sharing session lasted for three hours. After the alumni shared their experiences, the students took turns to ask questions and had communication at a deeper level with the alumni. Professor Xu Baojun explained that this sharing session from the alumni provided upcoming graduates with more information about the diverse employment possibilities, entrepreneurial experiences, and current situation of the food production industry, catering and various companies. Students in this sharing session have gained a lot and have more understanding and ideas about future employment and entrepreneurship.

Reporter: Jiang Ru
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Lauren Richardson
(from MPRO)