Wenjie Lee (MSC Accounting and Finance 2012)
Volunteer in the Spotlight - Wenjie Lee
Volunteer in the Spotlight is a regular feature that highlights dedicated volunteers who support other alumni, students and the university in many different ways. Wenjie Lee (MSC Accounting and Finance 2012), is currently working as a Manager at Investment Bank Headquarters of Everbright Securities Co., Ltd. in Shanghai.
Wenjie is a Country Contact ambassador for China and helped establish the Exeter China Alumni Association (ECAA) in 2012. Five years on, as President of the ECAA, Wenjie has helped create a strong alumni community, supported by alumni volunteers in regional chapters across the country (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), organising regular events including employability activities and professional networking events.
The ECAA volunteer committee are ambitious and extremely generous, giving their time and expertise to support alumni through their whole Exeter journey – from prospective students through to welcoming all alumni in China to get involved in events to support their university. Read more about the ECAA via their Welcome message. Keep up-to-date on alumni news and events by Register as a member and follow: WeChat (search “ExeterAlumni”), Weibo, and LinkedIn.
We asked Wenjie a few questions about his experience of Exeter and as a volunteer.
Tell us about your career journey since graduation from the University of Exeter.
Due to my previous working experience in Ruihua Certified Public Accountants, I got the offer of Grant Thornton LLP (GT) before graduation. When I left University of Exeter at the end of September 2012, I have heard many feedbacks from other alumni that ideal jobs are generally hard to find. Some of my friends told me that lots of Chinese local enterprises don’t recognise Exeter and refuse their applications, which make me feel sad and indignant. Then, I decided to delay two month of my GT offer and experienced job-hunting in China's job market. I was wondering what kind of jobs I could find. I applied different forms of financial companies, including Broker, finance leasing company and so on. After passing several group interviews among counterparts from walls street or other world class Universities, I entered the final round. Then, I explained my intention to HR that I want to prove Exeter graduates are as good as other world class universities’. Meanwhile, I recommend my fellow graduates from Exeter to take my place. Luckily, HRs were not angry, but rather appreciated my courage. During two months, I successfully recommended seven graduates to get jobs finally.
After my attempt has been completed, I officially started my career as accountant in GT. I started my position as Associate Auditor. Taking less than two years and crossing three ranks, I have been fast promoted to the position of Project Manager and rewarded a honour of one of top 10 outstanding employees of the year.
I have four years working experience of IPO, M&A in CPA firm with a macro scope and coordination capability, and obtain the certificate of public accountant in Australia and senior accountant in Britain. After I believe that I have achieve my target as a CPA, I decided to pursue my next stage of career development in investment banking. Now, I work as Senior Manager at Investment bank quality control headquarter of Everbright Securities in Shanghai.
What are your best memories from living and studying at Exeter?
There are many precious memories of my old days from living and studying at Exeter. Old memories of Exeter often recurred to me and they are still vivid in my dreams.
The University of Exeter, with its excellent reputation and high-ranking position, is a place I have long admired. The teaching staff, the educational resources, the beautiful environment, the facilities and the wide range of student services are all reasons why it was my preferred choice for postgraduate study.
The culture is fantastic. Exeter is a very diverse, positive environment, which for me makes it one of the best places to achieve academic success and develop many precious memories.
The staff are very supportive. If you have any problems with your coursework, there’s a team of academic assistants waiting to help you address any issues. The professors are also very kind, and take time to really explain things to you in a clear and detailed manner.
I have attended several events organised by the Business School, but the most impressive one was a guest lecture in Advanced Corporate Finance. Martin Wood from Vicarage Capital Ltd is an alumnus of Exeter University. He gave a wonderful lecture, sharing with us the latest, practical knowledge and information from the business world. His ideas and opinions really blew my mind, and inspired me a lot.
What inspired you to volunteer your time to help the University of Exeter?
Organising the Exeter China Alumni Association has been time consuming but very rewarding. I have been asked many times why I made the decision to tackle the job. It was early 2012 in Exeter, when I joined a big event. There I met friends from various parts of China, but we gathered under the same roof for the same reason –– to attend Exeter University for better education and to broaden our horizon. Most of the people at that event became close friends of mine. During the event, we had talks about so many different things that we encountered, funny and immemorable things, but immediately we were struck by the thought that we were to leave Exeter and return to our various hometowns. We did not wish to lose contact of each other after graduation, regardless our future work location. We hoped to have a network that can unite us together, and even after graduation, we can still be of help to each other as before, personally and professionally. Due to my role at the Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC) as student and social representative, I had some experience in organising events and gatherings. Therefore, I was elected as the Chairman of the Alumni Association, maintaining the bond between alumni.
I went back to dorm that day and could not get this idea out of my mind. After much thought and discussions with my friends, I decided that it could do a lot of good and help many senior Alumni and Exeter students in the future in positive ways and since it was tried in early years and did not survive, if it was not accomplished now, it may never happen. I committed to myself a year to get it started.
Four months prior to my departure, I began to put my thought to action. The first thing was that I set up a Preparatory Committee for the Exeter China Alumni Association. Through various ways we collected many students who were to graduate as the same class as us; we also used WeChat and Weibo social media to maintain communication between graduates after they returned to China, and to know what the needs would be for fellow alumni. Afterwards, through my friends in Oxford and Michigan, I learnt about the success stories and the organisational structure of the alumni clubs of these two world-renowned universities. I also sought help from the Careers Zone at Exeter in order to get in touch with prestigious alumni that have graduated some time ago for developing a broader strategy of the Alumni Association. At last, after seven meetings of the Preparatory Committee, the Alumni Association Charter was laid down together with the Committee members, which led to the official establishment of Exeter China Alumni Association (ECAA) in Autumn 2012.
What do you enjoy most about your volunteering role?
The ECAA is founded for the purpose to build a strong network of alumni graduated from University of Exeter and living in China. We keep all alumni connected to their Alma Mater 母校through various channels. We are committed to cultivating a lifelong relationships between University and alumni. We support the mission of the University of Exeter and in doing so we offer alumni opportunities for continued professional development, networking, and at the same time acting as communication platform, and an online resource library.
I have had so many beautiful memories of my time in founding and expanding ECAA around China. Now, allow me to share a few precious moments of our alumni events in past five years – here are some notable achievements during the past five years for ECAA:
- Our alumni network has already covered most cities of China
- Our number of alumni has grown from 50 to more than 3000
- We have publicised the Exeter China Alumni Association on major social media, WeChat, Weibo, and LinkedIn
- We hold more than 100 events in different forms, including networking event, interest group workshop, job shadowing, profession-based sharing sessions and Distinguished People Seminar
- We have developed close ties with local universities. We have been invited to give sharing and mentoring session about our master program and life in University of Exeter. And each year, I received few thank you letters or messages from those students, when we finally get accepted and get offers from University of Exeter. Many of them have graduate with degree and come back to join us to help more students. It’s more like a cycle of love and help
- By assistant from my close friends, Shanghai Business Magazine and other China media, agree to promote an introduction of our University of Exeter courses, facilities and etc, which could help to enhance the impact of my beloved University
- Through the ties of various alumni in their companies, we have gathered opportunities for alumni, including graduate jobs and internships, which will be pushed out through our social media platform
What advice would you give to other alumni interested in volunteering?
I would like to share with you the conception of my life. Just 3 simple rules, the 1st one, if you can find a way to help people around you to chasing love, happiness, friendship, or career, you will also live in and get that kind of life. The 2nd, you can never image how you can energise and mobilise other people and do help changing their lives. Those positive impacts to others and society is how the value of my days to be measured. Finally, while doing things, try to be thoughtful, generous and helpful.
Date: 18 September 2017