GMBA Alumni Interview: Stuart Coyle (BSc, MSc, MBA), Class of 2011
I am a British (and now Irish) citizen from the NTU GMBA class of 2011 (although the thesis came a little later!). I first moved to Taiwan in 2004 to study Mandarin Chinese on a BACS scholarship, ended up meeting my first boss on a hike in Xindian, and built a career in the Mandarin-speaking business world, in Taipei, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and many more cities! I still maintain many personal and professional links to the region and am fortunate to apply this experience to my Marketing, Procurement, and Sales roles, as well as my daily life!
Q1. What was the culture shock when you first came to Taiwan? For a British like you, it should be easier to habitat in Hong Kong or Singapore, why you chose Taiwan?
I didn’t feel any culture shock when I came to Taiwan in 2004. I had visited Beijing and Shanghai previously and, if anything, I noticed how similar the culture was to British culture. This was only reinforced in the following years as I experienced more and more of Taiwan.
I don’t think being British, or any nationality, comes into where someone moves to build their career, nor should it. I moved originally to learn Mandarin Chinese and to develop a career in the Mandarin-speaking world. As places to live, Hong Kong or Singapore have never come onto the radar for me at any point as they had no relevance to my plans (although they both hold a dear place in my heart as a result of personal and professional visits).
Q2. Because of your work, you spent a longer time than the others to finish GMBA. Compare to the first intention why you want an MBA, do you ever think of quitting?
I embarked on the MBA for a number of reasons: to further and broaden my professional knowledge; to strengthen my professional network, and because I was planning to continue my career in Taiwan.
Quitting never crossed my mind – I had already completed the course and just needed to find the time and focus to complete the thesis. I am also persistent – I always complete something I have started, even if it takes longer.
I have to express sincere respect and gratitude to the staff of the GMBA office, for always supporting me in finding that time and focus.
Q3. Can you tell which course(s) is/are the most impressive to you? And during your study, what was the most unforgettable memory with your batch?
All of the core courses produced some great memories in their own way. What most impressed me, of them all, was the core Accounting course and that our instructor managed to make a potentially dry subject so engaging.
Elective courses were also rewarding in their own ways – offering chances to learn variously about the renewables business, M&A activity, and asset management. The Strategic Accounting course, by Professor Eric Chu (previously New Taipei City mayor) provided an excellent opportunity to engage with business leaders at leading local companies of the time, including HTC, Acer, Benq and Quanta. The most memorable class moment, however, was presenting to the Business Models class, with my New Yorker classmate, on the CRM vendor Salesforce in Chinese. All this while most of our GMBA class were celebrating with an end of exams party!
Q4. Now you are back to GB, do you think what you learned here in Taiwan helps in your career path?
This is the toughest question to answer. My experience in Taiwan represents exactly one-third of my life to date and it is hard to separate individual experiences from group experiences, the academic from the social and the personal from the professional. I will say that aside from continuing links to the GMBA, and to the business community in Taiwan for co-operation opportunities on behalf of my current role, so many aspects of what I learned feed into everything I do – from my marketing skills and business understanding to using Mandarin in commercial discussions. Taiwan, and everything I have done there, especially the GMBA, continues to have some kind of impact on my activities every day.
If you think we may have some common ground on which to connect, please look me up on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-coyle-7848222/