Chen Jihong has everything she needs for a successful career: a Bachelors degree in computer science from Qingdao Haiyang University, a Masters degree in management systems from New Zealand’s top-ranking business school, international work experience and good English.
She’s certainly a good prospect for any hi-tech international company operating in China, and US computer giant Hewlett Packard was quick to offer her a job in Dalian as a technical support engineer when she arrived back in China in 2006 with a Masters degree from Waikato Management School in New Zealand.
But two years on, Chen Jihong is back at university -- this time as a PhD student with a full scholarship. And she chose to come back to Waikato Management School. “I never dreamed I’d go on to do a PhD,” she says. “The professors at Waikato Management School gave me lots of support and encouragement, so I decided to try my best.”
Chen’s PhD research topic is linked to her job at HP. “At HP, we dealt with US customers over the phone, solving technical problems for computer users,” she explains. “I really enjoyed the work, but many of my colleagues who didn’t have international experience got quite frustrated dealing with US customers.”
Chen found the company spent a lot of time and money on training their staff, but still there were problems.
Chen is now researching knowledge transfer and knowledge building in a cross-cultural business environment, and she says she hopes to find a more effective process for training staff.
“I think companies need to pay attention to work-based training, covering cultural, technical and business process issues, and teach staff how to apply this learning in the workplace.”
It’s a skill Chen learned as a student at Waikato Management School. “Studying in New Zealand is totally different to studying in China. I’m usually quiet in class, but in New Zealand, I had to get used to asking questions in class, and I had to apply what I learnt in real-world work situations. It was hard, but now I feel very comfortable dealing with new environments.”
Chen says she hopes to do further research when she finishes her doctorate.