Meet Our "Future Leaders"是北京大学光华管理学院“未来领导者”国际本科项目推出的专题系列报道，通过讲述该项目来自全球的学生丰富且多元的故事与思想，展示“未来领导者”项目学生的青春风采。
#Meet Our “Future Leaders” # is a series featuring the personal stories of students in PKU Guanghua’s “Future Leaders” International Undergraduate Program.
Today we're introducing Helen Guo, a young woman from Canada of Chinese heritage. Helen is a competitive dancer and has a passion for case competitions. The "Future Leaders" Program offers an inclusive and diverse "global classroom", helping to jumpstart her international career path.
About Helen Guo
Helen Guo is a fourth-year student from Canada studying at the Guanghua School of Management as part of the "Future Leaders" Program. Before coming to Peking University, she spent her first two years as an undergraduate at the Smith School of Business in Kingston, Ontario, where she pursued a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Having interned at Boston Consulting Group for two summers, Helen will rejoin BCG's Toronto office as a management consultant upon graduation.
From ballerina to business student
I was a competitive dancer for 11 years and competed across North America in various genres including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and tap dancing.While the connection between dance and business may not be immediately apparent, I now realize that many of my accomplishments have been shaped by the characteristics and skills I developed in my formative dancing years.The discipline developed by training 7 days per week, the cooperation required for team choreography, and the adrenaline that had to be harnessed performing in front of thousands helped me to develop perseverance, flexibility, and ambition. These were the very skills that led me to reach new heights in university through case competitions.
Helen and her teammate in a case competition
From 3-hour case crunches to 24-hour non-stop sprints, I've had the joy of tackling a wide variety of business problems under pressure. However, my most memorable experience was the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Case Competition in 2019. As captain of the only all first-year team to compete, I was determined to prove that we had the creativity and business acumen to be front-runners. The month leading up to the on-campus qualifier round was filled with late nights and caffeine-fueled huddles in which we put together an out-of-the-box business partnership plan for the Toronto Football Club to grow their brand recognition. As a result, we successfully became one of only twelve teams to qualify for the national competition out of the 100+ teams to compete across Canada. As the only first-year team among a sea of other experienced individuals at more advanced stages in their professional journeys, we once again beat the odds and placed 3rd overall.This case competition was the first of many for me, and this early success bolstered my passion for solving complex business problems.
Culture, career, and a classroom with a mission
My motivation for studying in China was two-fold. First, I wanted to return to my roots. While I took to learning about Chinese culture and history at a young age, my experiences felt largely second-hand. I knew that in order to truly immerse myself in the culture, I had to live in China for an extended period of time, and doing so during my university years seemed to be the perfect opportunity.
My second motivation is career-related. Born and raised in a small city in Ontario, I always aspired to take my career to the global stage, and my fluency in Mandarin made China a realistic launching pad for those goals.China's economic growth and market structures are also uniquely different than what I have experienced in Canada, which made this program the ideal opportunity for me to broaden my horizons and study Chinese business firsthand.
Helen at BCG’s office in Toronto
However, I chose the Future Leaders Program not only because it would allow me to study in China –I was also drawn in by the promise of a truly global classroom with diverse peers who shared similar interests in international business and making a positive impact in the world.
Diversity and inclusion make us stronger
From the first day in this program, I have been consistently impressed and humbled by how diverse and worldly our cohort is.With classmates who come from 17 different countries and bring a multitude of different life experiences, I am constantly learning something new from my peers. This is especially evident in group projects where each person can bring a fresh perspective and different areas of expertise. The culture within this program is also incredibly inclusive. Despite many of us being unable to travel to campus, both staff and students have done our best to organize socials and activities that bring us together. The Spring Festival celebration was the most memorable for me since it included not only my cohort but also the upper year cohort in a series of fun challenges and performances that showcased the variety of talents in our program.
Spring Festival Celebration of "Future Leaders" Program
Building personal and professional skills
The "Future Leaders" program has helped me to develop key skills for my career and personal life. Firstly, having to work with peers that come from very different backgrounds has taught me the importance of cross-cultural management and communication.For example, I now know to establish team norms early on so that everyone can agree upon communication styles and working preferences so as to avoid conflict down the road.
Helen in the 798 Art District in Beijing
Secondly, this program has opened my eyes to the power of perspective.Having lived all my life in Canada, my views on China's political, social, and economic development were restricted by frameworks and models developed by Western scholars for Western societies. However, my courses at Peking have taught me alternate theories and logic for China's development which made me realize that most issues are more complex than they first appear to be, and that one should actively seek out alternative perspectives in order to make more informed judgements.
Helen with her friends in Canada
Work hard, play harder
My very first hobby was art. As a kid, I always loved to draw and was trained from a young age in pencil realism, though I also explored acrylic, watercolour, and oil pastel in later years. Since the start of the pandemic, I have picked up digital art on my iPad, and I enjoy the portable and fuss-free nature of it. In recent years, I have also picked up photography and have taught myself the ins and outs of DSLR and Adobe Photoshop. My family also occupies much of my spare time, and we always make the most of our short Canadian summers by going on hikes through various provincial and national parks and fishing with friends.
Helen's photographic & digital art works
PKU Guanghua “Future Leaders” Program
The Guanghua School of Management founded the "Future Leaders" International Undergraduate Double-Degree Program in partnership with 15 of the world’s best business schools, giving students the opportunity to gain an understanding of their local markets while also immersing them in one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic economies in the world: China. This program focuses on admitting top students with outstanding leadership potential from Peking University and its partner institutions. After completing their first two years of study at the institution in their home country, students live and study together with classmates of diverse backgrounds from all over the world—including students from China—for two more years as a single cohort at Peking University.