New Member Spotlight: Christine Wong of ImmerQi

Wong shares the benefits of working in a family business, such as quick and informal decision making

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.42.48 AM.jpg

Christine Wong
Occupation: Executive Director and Board Member of ImmerQi
Hometown: Sydney, AU
Member Since: February 2016

Could you tell me about your career path and how you wound up in Beijing?

I moved to Beijing in 2013 and it was a big change. Previously, I worked for 11 years in asset management in Sydney, including most recently as the Australian Director of Client Service at Crédit Agricole’s asset management business. I moved to Beijing and am now working in the education industry, in a company started by my mother. My grandparents are from Guangdong and Fujian provinces and I was born in Australia, so I have always been keen to learn more about my heritage. Therefore I jumped at the chance to join our family business and move to Beijing.

My mother started ImmerQi 24 years ago in Australia to foster cultural exchange between the East and West through study abroad programs. Since 2005 we have been headquartered in Beijing focusing on study abroad programs in China including internships, volunteering and cultural exchange programs.

How do you like having your mom as your boss?

One benefit of working in a small family business is that we can more quickly make decisions and resolve differences in a more open, informal way than is possible at a large corporation. This took some getting used to at first. She gave me some good advice early on about doing business in China: Take some time and get to know Chinese culture and appreciate the differences in business relationships, listen with an open ear and treat your first year in China as a learning experience.

How’s business?

Good. 2015 was our most successful year with the highest number of international students coming to China. In particular we see American university students increasingly fascinated by China and wanting to engage via study abroad programs and internships.

What challenges are you facing?

The biggest challenge is always ensuring suitable internship placements to meet trends and changing requests from students. For example, we are receiving a lot more requests from students for internships in the sustainable energy, robotics and engineering industries. I look forward to engaging with AmCham China’s Education Committee, Young Professionals Committee and Human Resources Forum to help make this happen.

Do you have a favorite place to travel?

New York City is definitely my favorite place to visit – I’ve been there five times now! I’m always drawn back by the buzz, small bars, diversity and energy. I love the Lower East Side as well as the West Village but Shake Shack in Madison Square Park has my heart.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Beijing?

I have to admit, I’m a big foodie! Most people are familiar with a few other Spanish restaurants in Nali Patio, but my favorite is Niajo. The Squid-ink paella and croquettes are fresh and well prepared. I also love the cozy atmosphere and the great selection of Spanish wines. My favorite Chinese cuisine is Cantonese and when I need a dim sum fix, I head to Crystal Jade.