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Building a Bridge between Cultures

Martina Fuchs already speaks eight different languages, yet she is learning another – Mandarin. As an international journalist born in Zurich, she has moved across continents and was stationed in cities like Geneva, Cairo, London, Dubai. With a focus on business news and previously working for Reuters and now CCTV, she chooses to advance her knowledge in global financial markets for a respectably good reason.

Learn to Write from “Right”

Martina comes from a country with a highly diverse culture – Switzerland, where the four national languages German, French, Italian and Romansh are commonly used. While her mother tongue is Swiss German, she also speaks French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and now Mandarin. She said learning more languages requires an open mind, discipline as well as passion for that country, its people and culture.

“Over the years, I built a box for every language in my brain that I can pull out like a drawer, for instance when I discuss interview logistics with a cameraman in Mandarin or write an email to a friend in Yemen in Arabic from right to left,” she said.

She stresses it is important to apply a learned language in real life and spend time in that country where possible. This is one of the reasons Martina moved to Beijing in 2012, where she can now chat away on China’s popular social media app WeChat in Mandarin, conduct a TV interview with a celebrity such as Huayi Brothers’ Wang Zhonglei, or have a conversation with a taxi driver on the clogged traffic in Beijing.

Currently working as a TV reporter for the Biz Asia show on CCTV NEWS, the international English-language channel of state broadcaster CCTV, Martina said it is a priceless experience. She is gaining exposure to a new work culture, putting her Mandarin into practice, and establishing a wider network of contacts.

While with CCTV, she has conducted many exclusive interviews, such as with Wanda’s Chairman Wang Jianlin (named China’s richest man by Forbes in 2014), Mongolia’s Finance Minister Chultem Ulaan, and Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

“Despite the choking air pollution, Beijing is the capital of China and the place to be right now. I can witness some of the most crucial moments in China’s development from within a state-owned enterprise, such as the current economic reforms, the Third Communist Party Plenum, the RMB internationalization, and so on,” she said.

Deepen Understanding in Finance

Martina said as a foreign journalist working in Beijing, she feels like a cross-border herald spreading the latest financial news across China and the rest of the world. To do a better job, she is keen to enrich her industry knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the global financial market.

That’s why she enrolled in the MSc in Global Finance program jointly organized by the HKUST Business School and the NYU Stern School of Business. The 12-month program is designed for busy working professionals with modules taught in Hong Kong, New York and Beijing mostly at weekends. Students in the program typically come from more than ten countries and of some 15 nationalities.

“As the modules are held in three of the epicenters of the global business world, I can better understand not only China, but also Wall Street and the emerging markets in Asia, which can be tossed up and put into a global context,” she said. “What’s more, the highly diverse classroom is a great mosaic of different cultures, which provides a truly global learning environment.”

The program combines interactive lectures, real-life cases and integrative projects, covering the latest financial insight ranging from portfolio management and asset allocation to corporate finance and risk management. Martina said there are some subject areas that she has never had exposure to, such as derivatives markets which involve complex calculations like the volatility index or hedging strategies with futures, and that she needed good preparation and extra efforts to catch up with her “financially” more experienced classmates.

Contributing to a Wider World

In the class of around 40 students, most come from the finance and investment sector. Being among the few exceptions, Martina happens to be a great asset to the class because of her unique network.

The MSc in Global Finance program provides a platform for students to exchange ideas and gain first-hand insight from industry experts. With her connections (or “guanxi” in Chinese), she invited two VIP speakers to the class during a module in Beijing. They were Mr Gao Xiqing, the former Vice Chairman, President and CIO of the China Investment Corporation (CIC), and Mr Jin Liqun, who was the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of the CIC, and is now the Chairman of China’s investment bank the China International Capital Corporation (CICC). Similar to other sharing sessions in the program, the event received enthusiastic feedback.

Martina said one of her roles at CCTV consists of networking and building new sources with mainland companies, government ministries and institutions. The broadcaster provides a great platform for her to build a cross-cultural bridge and help people in China and around the globe to better understand the complexities of today’s financial world and shape intelligent decisions. Her vision aligns with that of the Business School – making a positive impact on a wider world.

Martina indicated that while staying with CCTV, she plans to start up her own investment advisory boutique firm in London further down the road. But for now, she will first finish the MSc program and load up with a wealth of financial knowledge, before continuing her round-the-globe, meaningful working journey.

Original Source: Feature Stories, HKUST Business School webpage

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