"The four years at UNNC were crucial and not easy. UNNC is international and diversified, where you are exposed to many different things and trained to think from different perspectives."
Initially he was driven to work very hard in the knowledge of the sacrifices his parents had made to pay for his tuition, but gradually the motivation to self develop and improve grew.
"Great freedom at UNNC allowed me to proactively think about why, what and how to study and to develop the habit of studying proactively and independently. Studying became my own business, a stepping stone on my career path, and not a burden imposed on me by others."
"After graduation, I kept the mentality that I must keep on learning. I think that seeing parents as the main motivation to study hard could create constraints. Because what you do should be mainly considered from your point of view, rather than your parents. You can discuss with your parents and gain their support, but our future should be in our own hands."
My career path
After his Masters, Junzeng joined PwC Edinburgh through a job fair and was quickly promoted to a Senior Associate: "Interview skills are quite important. I had had mock interviews with support from UNNC’s career development office and other students. This practice was very helpful."
Due to the requirements of his job, Junzeng obtained the ACA qualification and also added the CFA in the belief that he may be involved in investment in the future: "I think studying just for qualifications is too prevalent in many universities in China at the moment. Academic performance at university and work experience are much more important than getting certificates. Besides, your value doesn’t have to be something that can be shown on a piece of paper."
"For example, if you participate in extra-curricular activities at university, your soft skills will improve and you will be able to adapt to the workplace more quickly. As for timing, I think it is more appropriate to study for qualifications after starting work because what you learn during your study for qualifications and what you do at work will help each other. Qualifications can also serve as social platforms, where members with a similar background can meet each other at various events, which help to expand one’s network. However, the same thing can add different value to different people, so the value of qualifications is not the same for everyone. You should decide whether to study for a qualification according to your own needs rather than just following others."
In early 2015, Junzeng returned to China and joined PwC Beijing as Manager of Corporate Finance, responsible for advising corporations, management teams, financial institutions and private equity houses on corporate financial activities including cross-border and domestic merger and acquisitions, disposals and fundraising. Despite a great job and good pay, surprisingly, he then switched his career path in 2019 and joined China Harbour Investment Singapore as an Investment Director. Its owner, China Communication Construction Company, is one of the largest worldwide companies engaging in engineering projects. As an investment platform ultimately set up and exclusively held by China Communication Construction Company, China Harbour Investment invests both green-field and brown-field global infrastructure projects. Junzeng is mainly responsible for originating and executing global M&A projects.
From foreign firms to a state-owned enterprise, from advisory to investment roles, from China to Singapore - these were not small changes: "I’m still a rookie in the investment industry. This is a transition and I am trying to adapt to the new environment. Our investment decisions are policy-driven, unlike foreign investment institutions. I used to have lots of business trips, but now I often work at my desk and the pace of work is slower. The way people in the company communicate and behave is also different from before."
Asked why he changed his job, Junzeng said he wanted to take more care of his family, including his 3-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son: "I used to travel a lot and sometimes I couldn’t even go home at weekends. Sometimes I flew to meet clients when my daughter was still in hospital which made me feel guilty. However, since the birth of my second child, I have gradually changed my mindset, feeling that there is not only work in life, but also family. I need to spend a lot of time nurturing my relationship with my kids. Life’s been good so far. My daughter loves Singapore, and my son will come here when he’s a bit older."
Another reason for changing his job is career development. Reflecting on the limitations of his abilities, he thought that his career prospects in his previous job were uncertain. After resigning, he received a job offer from a domestic investment bank with a salary similar to that offered by the company in Singapore, but he chose the latter: "A client told me about the job opportunity in Singapore and asked if I was interested. I think the nature of the work is similar to before, the platform is large with abundant resources, and most importantly, the job is better for me in terms of being with my kids. So, after much hesitation, I moved to Singapore with my family."
Advice to fellow graduates
"Your career development should have continuity. That is, you should add value to yourself step by step in a planned way because a career is not a one-time deal, and your objectives cannot be reached in one stroke. The Big Four are great platforms to train and improve yourself."
"Stop and think every now and then. Think about what your plan is, what your problems are, and whether you’re adding value to yourself consistently. Don’t be blinded by your comfort zone and don’t rush all the time. If you have a problem, fix it. If you can’t fix it, accept it and do what you love and what you’re good at."
"In the accounting firms, some people think that advisory is fancy and cool, whereas auditing is laborious, creating little of value to oneself. I think this idea is not necessarily right, because every career has its own development path. As long as you make efforts, there will be a unique career path for you. Different occupations are just different types of work. Choose a career based on whether you are fit for it. Don’t follow suit or be fooled by superficial things."