Guo Bei: a shy yet loud public speaker
Guo Bei is the vice president of EIC Group, a Chinese company that specializes in international education. During her spare time, she has delivered more than 180 lectures in about 30 cities, in an effort to help motivate more Chinese students to reach for their goals.
Guo Bei, Vice president of EIC Group, takes an interview from China Plus. [File photo: provided for China Plus]
But Guo told China Plus that she isn't a natural born public speaker, and that this took perseverance. How did she do it? Listen to her story in this episode of our series "Deep Dive: Talks with Chinese Internationals".
International Education Has Played Magic on This Lady
by Manling, host of China Plus
Being livestreamed on Facebook, our feature program is titled: "Interview with Guo Bei, a woman with an enviable resume." Yes, in the eyes of many, her CV IS an enviable one. Having graduated from University of Tokyo in Japan and receiving an MBA degree from Harvard Business School, Guo landed positions in world famous companies such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. Additionally, she's been awarded the "Rising Talent" from the Women's Forum in 2014, and currently serving as Vice President of EIC Education, a Chinese company specialized in international education. However many may not be aware that this auspiciousness was not premeditated, as she simply just followed the trend and listened to her parents that she should study hard. Guo Bei said life can actually never be planned but it can definitely be designed. And this is what she has been preaching to her audience in the more than 180 lectures she has given within the past two years. According to her, if you learn to design your life, what happened to her will happen to you. Let's find out how her magic can enchant others!
The first impression I got the minute we met, from the in-depth two hour interview we sat through, plus the fragmented moments of dialogue on WeChat afterwards, she has left in my mind an image of a demure and quiet lady, which is a sharp contrast against the image she has been promoting to the public as a staunch expounder and preacher of her educational philosophy. I thus conclude that I have eyes sharp enough to detect her true natural being under various veils such as professional skills, multitudes of training, international education, and most importantly her improved self-consciousness attained through voluntary observation and rationality.
Guo Bei, Vice president of EIC Group. [File photo: provided for China Plus]
Guo Bei is shy by nature, quiet, and conservative by habit, like she is expected to be in her own culture. But she is also talkative, liberal-minded, adaptive, and focused by training and exposure. International education has changed her and remolded her into a better version of herself who fits comfortably into the world's standards of a successful career woman. And this, according to her, can happen to everyone. And she wants to see this magic occur in many people.
Born in 1981, three years after China embarked on economically opening up, Guo Bei is lucky and feels grateful to have supportive parents who believe in education. By the time Guo Bei was ready to go to high school, China was already open enough for people to be able to consume foreign products, although at that time McDonald's and KFC were considered as luxurious meals. People also had access to foreign films and were able to see, in-person, foreign visitors coming to China to do business or in organized tours. Guo Bei remembered that she was so enchanted by the outside world through watching the very first Chinese soap opera to describe lifestyle outside of China "A Native of Beijing in New York" that the seeds of going abroad to study had been secretly planted in the little girl's heart. Of course, she wanted to go to the US, and Japan was certainly not her first choice. But being the only daughter of a blue collar worker couple, longing to go abroad to study was financially unrealistic. But scholarships offered by a Japanese high school brought hope to the 16 year old. Her competence in science subjects plus her tenacious grit had helped her to survive the equally intimidating Japanese Gaokao as China's. She entered the University of Tokyo and after graduation succeeded in settling down in Japan. After a decade of diligently working to climb career ladders and fill her purse, she seemed to have achieved what she wanted, yet at this time she felt a void in her life. Life is not all about money and status, something is definitely missing, but she didn't know exactly what it was. Naturally, she felt lost.
In order to find her purpose at this stage of her life, Guo Bei decided to pack up and leave Japan for Harvard Business School in the US. She said two years in the MBA program there in fact served as a reflection period for her to explore who she was and what she really wanted. This soul searching and purpose of life discovery was a bit of an inheritance from her mentor she luckily came across in University of Tokyo, who also left his own country to study abroad and even took a year off to think about what to do next. It's worth pointing out that even today in China taking time off from work is still considered an unnecessary waste of time and many Chinese universities do not have such a flexible system available for students to have this option. What Guo Bei learned from this professor is that it's ok to have no answer to what you want to do with your life, but it's not ok to stop thinking about it.