David Keenan, Global Account Manager, BT; Intern, 2018, Shanghai

Q. How has your experience in China contributed to where you are now in your career? 

My experience in China in Summer 2018 has been invaluable not only in landing myself a role with BT, but also in helping me understand and appreciate different cultures around me. Coming back from almost three months in China, I realised I had developed a travel bug, and knew that finding a role with an international focus would allow me to satisfy this. In becoming a Global Account Manager, I have been able to meet customers in the likes of Paris and look forward to meeting more customers face-to-face once the pandemic is over!

Living in China provided me with an international perspective and helped me understand the importance and value of appreciating different cultures and backgrounds. Different perspectives help shape the culture in a global organisation like BT. 

Q. What were your initial motivations for coming to China?

After completing my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University Belfast, I was eager to go abroad and experience something new and exciting for the summer of 2018. Having studied Chinese history and culture as a History student, I became fascinated by Chinese history, and how the country has come to be a superpower today. Hearing about Generation UK from my university, I saw my opportunity to go abroad and experience China at first hand.

Q. What skills did you develop in China that align with your role as a Global Account Manager?

My time in China allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills. By connecting with new people in Shanghai and beyond, as well as engaging with local Chinese customers during my internship, I gained an important understanding of how to connect with people from different backgrounds. This has consequently helped me build meaningful relationships with both my colleagues and global customers at BT. 

Additionally, my time working and travelling in China gave me an international perspective on life. These experiences not only allowed me to connect with people from different cultures but showed me how exciting and valuable it is to listen to stories from people all around the world. Having an international perspective has been crucial as an Account Manager, as I am constantly speaking to colleagues and customers who are based across the globe. Having an international perspective allows me to come prepared to meetings, understanding where customers are based, how their organisations operate globally, and the global solutions BT can offer to support them in the countries where they operate. 

Q. Did living in China fuel your ambitions to work in an internationally focussed role? 

After being given a unique opportunity to expose myself to China’s vibrant and exciting culture, Generation UK indeed helped fuel my ambitions to work in a globally focused role. After coming back to the UK, I was eager to secure myself a role that had a global outlook and would allow me to build more connections on an international scale. Securing my role with BT has allowed for exactly this as I am able to connect with colleagues and customers across the globe. 

Moreover, as a Global Account Manager for BT, an organisation that is actively growing its global business and presence in China, I am able to plan out how I can align my career at BT with my ambitions to eventually return to China, and hopefully work in BT’s offices there! 

Q. What are some of the most important things you have learnt in your role? 

During my time with BT as a Global Account Manager, I have come to appreciate the value of empathy. Being empathetic to your colleagues and customers creates fruitful relationships, and will only grow your personal brand in a vast organisation like BT. 

I have also come to learn that in order to be successful as an Account Manager, you must always help others around you, as you are then more likely to receive support from your colleagues and customers in return by putting them first. In a role where you are given a financial target, being selfless for your customers and colleagues will go a long way to achieving your goals and ultimately growing your career. 

Q. What are your career aspirations over the next 5-10 years? 

Over the next five to ten years, I would like to see myself progressing as an Account Manager in an internationally focused role. I aspire to be leading a global department, working with and visiting customers in a vast array of countries, including China of course! 

I also want to see myself having a strong command of Mandarin, and spending more time in China will certainly allow for that.

Q. How would you sum up your experience in China?

A life-changing experience that continues to benefit all aspects of my life.  

David participated in the Generation UK internship in 2018 working at a young start-up called Tea Plays. Since completing the internship, he has started his career at BT as a Global Account Manager based in London.