The Generation UK: China Network inaugural event with two of our Leading Lights: Carma Elliot and James Kynge

Leading Lights

We are delighted to share our Generation UK: China Network Leading Lights. 

Leading Lights are illustrious men and women at the forefront of their respective fields and who have benefited from experience in China. These successful UK nationals come from a range of sectors including diplomacy, technology and sustainability.

The Leading Lights are active participants in the Network and will regularly share their thoughts and expertise on China topics. They will also attend our events as guests, keynote speakers or panellists and through this, open up new channels for collaboration, exchange and business with China.  

Leading Lights play an increasingly important role in sustaining the legacy of the Generation UK campaign and advocating the importance of young UK nationals gaining experience in China. We hope you are excited to get to know them. Here you can find out more about the Leading Lights and their interesting China stories.

Carma Elliot CMG OBE

College President, United World College South East Asia

After finishing her Mandarin studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, in 1984, Carma worked as diplomat across the world including in China, France and Saudi Arabia. She received an OBE for her diplomatic services in 2003 and has become one of the best-known voices for Britain in China. In 2013, she took on the role of Director for China at the British Council for six years before joining the United World College South East Asia as College President. 

James Kynge

Global China Editor, Financial Times

James is Global China Editor and an Associate Editor at the Financial Times, based in HK. He started his China journey by studying Chinese and Japanese at Edinburgh University, during which time he spent a year in 1982 studying at Shandong University. A winner of numerous awards for journalism and a 2006 book, "China Shakes the World", he also serves as President of the Chinese Speakers Association (UK), which aims to help people who have learned Chinese find work using their language skills. 

Mahdi Shariff - Vice President, Ciklum

Mahdi Shariff

Vice President, Ciklum

Mahdi (雷锋) began his China journey in Guangzhou as the Chief Strategy Officer at a leading advertising technology company, where he was awarded Forbes Asia’s “30 Under 30”. He is an advisor to Slush China, one of the largest international startup and VC conferences in China and is an early-stage investor and an active advocate of the Chinese internet and start-up industry. Mahdi is a Warwick alumnus and previously studied at Tsinghua University.

Isabel Hilton OBE

Isabel Hilton OBE

Chief Executive Officer, China Dialogue

Isabel is the Founder and Senior Advisor to the China Dialogue Trust. The China Dialogue Trust publishes www.chinadialogue.net, an innovative website devoted to building a shared approach on climate change and environmental issues with China. Isabel graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Chinese, and in 1973 was one of the first British students to study in China. For her contribution to raising environmental awareness in China, she was appointed an OBE in 2009.

Simon MacKinnon: OBE, Chairman Sinophi Healthcare

Simon MacKinnon

Chairman, Xeros Technology Group China

Simon went to live in Shanghai in 1985 to teach English. He stayed, leading P&O, Corning, Xeros and other UK companies in China. He now serves multiple UK companies and charities, focused on environmental and healthcare. He was awarded Honorary Citizenship of Shanghai and the China Friendship Prize for his contributions to the environment and education. He received an OBE in 2013 to celebrate his services to UK-China business and his charity work. He is one of LinkedIn’s official Influencers.

Pia MacRae: Country Director, Save the Children, China

Pia MacRae

Chief Business Delivery Officer, Crown Agents

Pia first came to China in 1986 as an exchange student, and returned to take up numerous positions including her previous role as China Country Director for Save the Children. Pia has lived in China for around fifteen years. Since 2018, Pia has been working at Crown Agents in the UK as the Chief Business Delivery Officer, with responsibility for the delivery of supply chain solutions, health and humanitarian programmes, and projects to help strengthen government capacity to meet citizens’ needs.

Kerry Brown: Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London.

Professor Kerry Brown

Professor of Chinese Studies; Director, Lau China Institute, King's College, London and Associate Fellow, Asia Pacific Programme, Chatham House

After studying in Japan, Kerry first came to China in 1991. He started his career as a diplomat and has held posts such as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing and Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. He also worked at Chatham House as a Senior Fellow and the Head of the Asia programme, before becoming a Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He has written numerous books on China and Chinese politics.

Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE

Founder and Chairman, Restoration Partners

A self-proclaimed Sinophile, Sir Kenneth Olisa gained a deep respect of Confucian values and a close-up appreciation of the challenges to be overcome in crossing the cultural divide as a senior leader at Wang Laboratories. In September 2018 Ken was appointed to the Board of Huawei (UK) as one of three British non-executives. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Aleto Foundation, and in 2015 Her Majesty the Queen appointed him as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Greater London.

Harriet Gaywood

Harriet has been living in China for 25 years and has worked with over 100 brands across B2B, Consumer and Government sectors. Most recently she was Managing Director at Teneo and established the communications agency Grayling in Shanghai and Beijing. Harriet holds a BA and MA from Durham University and Shanghai Music Conservatory; an MA in Mass Communications from Leicester University and an Executive MBA from Hult Business School. 

Gordon Orr

Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Co., Asia

Gordon came to China in 1993 to open McKinsey & Co.’s Shanghai and Beijing offices. He has worked with many of China’s leading companies on strategy and international expansions. Today, Gordon is also a Director of the Board at Lenovo, Meituan and Swire Pacific. Through his experiences, Gordon illustrates how crucial understanding of diverse business cultures and international experience is. He is one of LinkedIn’s official influencers and regularly posts about economic developments in China.

 Become part of a vibrant community of UK nationals with experience in China. 

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