The Journey of Dream-chasing


Zhang Yan

Graduate of SBC Industrial Electronics and Control Engineering programme, 2+2 pathway, enrolled in 2007

Native place: Fuzhou, Fujian. Graduated from Fuzhou No. 1 Middle School

Bachelor’sDegree from The University of Sheffield, 2011

Master’s Degree from University College London, 2012

Became self-employed, established GEORGE SHAEF Consulting UK Ltd and engaged in multinational consulting business in 2012


“SBC is a place filled with possibilities. If you select the most suitable personalized development road to make efforts, you will not have any regrets in the end.” Zhang Yan is a student with a lot of ideas. No matter whether it was when she chose SBC or to go into self-employment, he always made decisions by himself. “My parents have great esteem for my life choices.” After Zhang Yan obtained his Bachelor’s Degree at The University of Sheffield and Master’s Degree from University College London, he established George Shaff Consulting Ltd with his partner in London, England. Zhang Yan said that it is international education which made his entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Excelling in UCL

When filling in the aspiration forms for the college entrance examinations, Zhang Yan’s first choice focused on a university “highlighting self-development and connecting international education”. “The excellent geographical position of SBC and the college’s connections to the British education system attracted me.” Ultimately, Zhang was admitted into the SBC due to his excellent achievements, matching that of first-tier universities.

Talking about the difference between domestic traditional education and comprehensive British education, Zhang Yan said “They are two different experiences for me. Compared with complete British education, more attention is paid in domestic traditional education to understanding and memory of knowledge; however, for British education, especially for undergraduate education, more attention is paid to ability training related to ‘study’. For instance, for the same academic paper, domestic marking standard always lies in whether you have mentioned important knowledge points in the class and can apply this knowledge. However, for British education, the logicality of your proposed argument and the rationality of grounds of argument are more important.” Under a complete system of British education, Zhang Yan not only mastered English, but also acquired an excellent academic ability.

After studying in SBC for two years, Zhang Yan’s learning style changed significantly. He started to enjoy an independent learning process. Meanwhile, his independent learning ability improved significantly. This laid a solid foundation for his education and the process of becoming self-employed. A “broad enrolment and strict graduation” education system is adopted in Britain. Zhang Yan rose to the occasion of heavy schoolwork. Furthermore, he completed his undergraduate study with excellent results and entered University College London for further study.

Talking about his Master’s study, Zhang Yan said “As we only had one year to complete our Master’s study, our schedules were filled with courses and papers . We really felt that we have too much data to read and too many papers to write. Furthermore, we had to cooperate with students and teachers from countries in the world. We needed some time to adapt to different cultures and the collision of values.” However, Zhang Yan also benefited from such a rare experience. He improved his academic level and built up his psychological ability for compressing information. Meanwhile, he also overcame many difficulties of cross-cultural communication and made full preparation for future “entrepreneurship”.

Starting a Business in England         

Zhang Yan kept the dream of entrepreneurship in his heart for all this time. During his period of study at the University of London, Zhang Yan took a course in Technology entrepreneurship and undergraduate and postgraduate study and processed solid professional background and entrepreneurship knowledge. What’s more, he made many friends with common goals for their years life abroad. When being asked about the origin of his entrepreneurship plan, Zhang Yan recalls that: “My partners and I have accumulated certain work experience and social resources, including numerous contacts with the Chinese enterprises preparing to develop businesses in Britain.” Zhang Yan gained a sharper perception in to the business opportunity from the viewpoint of this expansion. “When I discovered the urgent needs for enterprises to have multinational consultation services, I felt it was time for entrepreneurship.” So, a group of young men with entrepreneurial passion established an office in London to engage in the multinational consultation service.

Nowadays, the influence of his internationalized education experience is emerging in his Zhang Yan’s work. “The biggest influence for him is the understanding and respect accorded different cultures, which is the basis to establishing trust in collaboration. For those who engage in the multinational consultation service, good intercultural communication capability are the necessary accomplishments for them to communicate with local organizations or even governmental departments or to formulate the best implementation plan for customers.”

Besides, the independent learning ability of Zhang Yan has been of great help considering the company’s customers come from different industries in several fields, so he has to understand a large amount of related industrial information in a short space of time. Zhang Yan said “For example, when we helped the Chinese Special Steel Industry Association to participate in the ‘the 100th Anniversary for the Invention of Stainless Steel’, we fully investigated the industrial and technical advantages, market foreground, and the projects with opportunity for cooperation, etc. We also prepared a feasibility analysis report for our customers.” In fact, it also improved our ability in solving problems beyond testing our independent learning ability. “This working process is familiar to me since I have accepted the British system education!” Zhang Yan said.

At present, Zhang Yan’s customers include the British local government, as well as large-scale enterprises, organizations and industry associations from China. This year, their company has successfully launched the “Meeting in 2013 UK-China Investment Expo, Bloomberg”. This activity is staged by the UK-China investment association, and related financial institutions like Citibank and Bloomberg have participated in this activity. Even Lord Bates, Vice-president of the House of Lords, attended the meeting and made a speech. Undoubtedly, this pageant has greatly promoted the reputation of the company and improved the key competition of company. Zhang Yan has also become experienced and mature in the booming development of company.

Beholding their son’s changes over the years, Zhang Yan’s parents express with pleasure that: “It is the open education pattern of SBC and the experience in Britain that laid a solid foundation for our son’s individual development and road to entrepreneurship!”