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developing global trade leaders
through trade career development

Celeste ZENG

Fujian, China

National University of Singapore

Master of Business Administration, AY2018-2020

Awards & citations

Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leaders Scholarship (2018)

Previous university & major(s)

Hong Kong Baptist University – Bachelor of Business Administration (2013)

Scholar status

New scholar – Class of 2018

Read my story here

My first thought when I learned I was awarded this scholarship

I felt grateful, happy and honored.

I really appreciate Hinrich Foundation’s and Mr. Hinrich’s trust and help in the midst of change. I am really glad that back in 2011 I applied for Hinrich Foundation’s scholarship to study at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and was lucky enough to start my journey with the foundation.

I couldn’t be happier because with the support the foundation provides, I can concentrate more of my time on studying and seize every chance possible to maximize my learning. The six-month work-integrated learning internship in between semesters can also help me understand Singapore’s work environment and allow me to explore some future career opportunities in trade.

Last but not least, I felt honored, as I understand how much competition I was facing and how strong the other applicants were. That being said, the trust from the foundation will only motivate me to go further in my dream, walk out of my comfort zone and explore all the new opportunities this MBA journey has to offer.

Why I’m interested in trade

Trade alleviates poverty; it makes distribution of products and goods more balanced and improves people’s living standard between the trading nations. Trade also helps underdeveloped regions, and that’s what happened to China when economic reforms started with trade in the late 1970s. Now, China has built its name as an export giant with the Made-in-China mark, and is the world’s second largest economy.

Thus, I am interested in finding out what tremendous impact trade can bring to Southeast Asia and the other regions that are yet to fully benefit from trade.

On a personal level, I’ve encountered many suppliers of Global Sources at trade shows, sales calls and company visits. They all got to where they are today because of trade and they all have stories of chasing their dreams and eventually going into trade and the export business to make their “Chinese” dream come true.

Additionally, being in trade media for five years, I have the hunger to gain more in-depth knowledge of trade and learn more specific and concrete aspects of trade.

What this scholarship opportunity means to me

It means an opportunity to go back to school to learn after five years’ work; it means the opportunity to move to a new country; it means a new chapter in my life.

The international experiences I’m most looking forward to

Southeast Asian business study and Singapore’s role and function as a hub of Southeast Asia. I also want to improve my finance and accounting knowledge, as it’s my weakness.

What I’ll bring to my dorm to remind me of home and why

I will bring all the postcards received from New Zealand, Egypt, France, the US, etc. It’s not home that I want to be reminded of. It’s the heart for the world that I want to be reminded of, and not being too comfortable and easily settle in one place.

My favorite hobbies and other interests

I am a part-time globetrotter. I enjoy traveling with friends and exploring different cultures and nature. I like hiking and trekking, music, board games and movies. It’s also enjoyable to have thought-provoking discussions with friends, and last but not least, I am passionate about social entrepreneurship.

My proudest achievement so far in life

Through my own effort, I’ve been able to study and work in three cities, explore different cultures and make friends with people that are so different from me.

The largest obstacle I’ve overcome so far in life

I see all the obstacles in my life equally; every obstacle I face is an opportunity to pause, find solutions and learn. Thus, all the obstacles are very valuable to me.

My future goals and aspirations

Briefly summarizing some points mentioned above: 1) maximize my learning in MBA school; 2) get to know trade in Southeast Asia better and find career opportunities associated with these markets; 3) join student activities and fully enjoy the school life again; 4) and take part in student organizations and have more leadership exercises.

How I plan to give back and help others

Do some volunteer work for the Hinrich Foundation and other organizations in my free time.

Personal statement

I was born in Fujian province in China, and moved in 2009 to Guangzhou for my bachelor’s degree in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. Through Hinrich Foundation’s trade career development program, I transferred to Hong Kong Baptist University in 2011 and right after my graduation in 2013, I worked for Global Sources for five years.

Story about Celeste ZENG

I am passionate about building a social enterprise to improve quality of life for elder people.

Since I was young, I had a dream of founding my own business and looked up to my mom as a successful businesswoman and how she creates value for her customers. The student society I joined in university refined my dream and brought me closer to the concept – social entrepreneurship. I realized it’s not how much money I make that makes me happy, but it’s about how I can make a difference in people’s lives. It’s the sense of achievement I feel from that single smile that emerges from a beneficiary’s face.

Among all the social challenges, what strikes me most is seeing homeless seniors on the street working late at night, living in poverty. Thus, my long-term goal is to form a social enterprise with an aim to improve elder people’s quality of life while sustaining itself and provide sufficient motivation for me and my employees with financial rewards.

However, I completely understand how challenging it can be to keep both social impact and revenue growth in mind. During my time at university, together with 30 other team members, I spent one year trying to help a village that relied solely on sales of agricultural products. But most of our attempts failed. That made me realize that only a founder with a solid business foundation and a comprehensive understanding of that social issue can give a social enterprise a chance to thrive.

Since then, I have tried to build a solid foundation of business knowledge and networks by studying business, working in a corporate environment and diving in the startup and entrepreneurship field after graduation. To gain enough knowledge of nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations, I also keep an eye on the new social enterprises in the market and seek inspiration from them.

I believe the decisions of today are the architects of future. Thus, I want to pursue further study in the National University of Singapore and pave the way for my future social enterprise.