Switching continents and roles all while studying for a MBA

24 August 2021

Switching continents and roles all while studying for a MBA, hear about Keith Chau's experience studying for a Distance Learning MBA and what he has done since graduating. 

When I was researching which MBA programme was right for me, one of my key criteria was the flexibility in being able to balance my study with my professional commitments. Now that I look back, the Warwick Distance Learning MBA provided exactly that and much more!

I started the course whilst working with Barclays and living close to the Barclaycard HQ in Northampton. The company were very supportive financially and would allow for me to have time off to prepare for the end of year exams. Half way through my Distance Learning MBA programme I asked my company to back a one-year career break, as I wanted to learn Mandarin from scratch and physically move to Beijing. I was keen to do this as the Beijing 2018 Olympics were just a few years away, and I had a dream to be in the city during this time and to be living and working in China. Barclaycard were very supportive and allowed me to work parttime instead so I could attend Mandarin classes in the morning, and work from the Barclays Beijing office in the afternoon. I would then study the Distance Learning MBA modules during the weekends as well. 

After a year and a half in Beijing, I switched company to GE Money to take an Asia focused role, initially stationed in Shenzhen, and finally ending up in Shanghai. I did manage to realise my dream of attending some of the Beijing Olympic events as GE are one of the key sponsors, and I put my new found conversational Mandarin skills into good practice. The Distance Learning MBA modules were also still a key focus, and I still fondly remember taking my year three module exams at the Shanghai British Consulate.  

Being able to switch continents and job roles whilst maintaining my study momentum was both challenging and fulfilling. It also enabled me to fully apply the theory from the modules of International Marketing and Financial Accounting to my ‘day to day’ roles.   

After graduating from the Distance Learning MBA I stayed with GE Money in Shanghai for a few more years, I then had the opportunity to join HSBC in China where I’ve now been for the last 10 years. I’ve been very blessed to witness first hand how Shanghai has evolved to the multicultural, fast paced and exciting city which we see today. The amazing thing is that we foresee even more innovative developments in and around the city.

I arrived in China with my wife (she is from Swansea), and we now have two daughters (made in China) who can benefit from learning Mandarin at school and speaking Mancunian English at home. Even though I’ll always have Manchester as my true home, and my parents are still in Leeds, China has now become our new home. 

Since completing the MBA, I’ve stayed connected to the University of Warwick via guest lecturing to the China class who study a Warwick University Manufacturing Group Masters Course, where I share my experiences on International Joint Ventures through my time at Barclays, GE and HSBC. I always end the lecture by reflecting on the Distance Learning MBA programme, and how the ‘joy is found in the journey’ and that the qualification from Warwick Business School is worth the effort as it develops your commercial acumen, and sets you apart from the crowd.


Find out more about our MBA courses at Warwick Business School.