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Ian M Oades - Chinese alumni ambassador

Course: MBA 2001-02
City of residence: Shanghai
Employer: Stramark Capital Group
Contact details: Warwick alumni in China

After finishing the WBS full-time MBA in 2002, I returned to China through the exchange with the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and set up the foreign affiliate offices of a FINRA registered USA brokerage in Shanghai, whose goal was to support Chinese companies on international capital markets. I even wrote a book on the topic published by CITIC Financial Publishing: IPO: A Guide for Chinese Companies Seeking International Capital.

Since returning, I have been one of the most active alumni in China, taking time to meet as many alumni as possible. I was surprised to find out that there are nearly 9,000 alumni in China and that number is still growing. All the alumni that I met had the same desire, that was for more events, but the network lacked organization at a grass roots level. I also spent a lot of time with my other alumni network at CEIBS and learned a thing or two about how they were organizing their network and events in China, tricks which I would put to good use.

There were the occasional Warwick events every few years but there was a need for more. So, keen to do my bit for Warwick and for all the alumni in China, I took it as my pet project.

I firstly started to set up a communications platform, to get people interested before I started organizing events. The first stage of that was a Linkedin site, an alumni network on Linkedin which within the first year got around 500 members. At the same time, I set up a simple website with the plan to show pictures of events to get more and more people enthused. Next came the big one, the first social event. The Linkedin site, by this point had done its job and had gotten a few people chatting about the need to organize events.

With the help of the alumni office at Warwick, I just set a date for an event with people I met on Linkedin, then started to contact everyone. We had a great evening in Beijing, and since then things so far have gone from strength to strength. At the start I used to fly around China to every event, organizing lotteries, and prize draws to give the events a focus, but now there are people in each pocket who are self-starters who have taken the lead, and save me the airfare.

I have been asked, ‘Why did you do it?’, and the answer is quite simple, that I have met some of the best people across China who, within such a short period of time, have become some of my dearest friends and associates.

The alumni I have met so far are from many walks of life, and positions. We have everyone from the CEOs of listed companies to retirees (very early retirees I have to add) and entrepreneurs. A good mix and a great bunch of people who all love the events and the networking.

Typically an event will attract about 30 to 35 people and the themes and venues range from a social gathering at a friendly bar, to cocktail parties at five star hotels; a range to suit most people is the key.

The alumni office were really great and I couldn’t have done it without them. After I started the ball rolling, they quickly joined in and added support in many ways, with ideas and also event promotion.

From my experience this is a really great way to meet people who have common interests and backgrounds. You get what you put in and I am getting a lot out of this so far. Definitely worth the energy.