Ms Barbara Woodward, CMG OBE, British Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and official Champion of the Generation UK: China Network.


Barbara Woodward CMG OBE, British Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, is the official Champion of the Generation UK: China Network. 

As Champion of the network, the British Ambassador plays an invaluable role in raising awareness of the initiative and advocating its importance in building trust and understanding between the UK and China. 

Ms Barbara Woodward first came to China in 1986 as an English teacher in Wuhan. After mastering the Chinese language, she joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and worked on economic and security aspects of foreign policy across the world. She has held numerous diplomatic posts, including Deputy Ambassador to Russia, Deputy Ambassador to China and then Ambassador to China in February 2015. In 1999 Barbara was awarded an OBE for her part in securing the release of two British hostages from Chechnya. She was made a CMG in 2011. Ms Woodward says:

“Connecting British students with China experts will enable the exchange of knowledge, and will encourage further UK engagement with China. The network will help strengthen the golden era, allowing individuals to understand and benefit from it, and ensure the UK-China relationship continues to blossom.” 

Leading Lights

We have selected a number of UK nationals to join the Generation UK: China Network as Leading Lights. Leading Lights are individuals at the forefront of their respective fields and who have benefited from experience in China. These successful individuals come from a range of sectors including diplomacy, business and media.

The Leading Lights are active participants in the LinkedIn group and will attend our events as guests, keynote speakers or panellists. Interacting with the Leading Lights as well as with our invited Chinese business men and women will open up new channels for collaboration, exchange and business with China. 

Meet all of the Leading Lights

Mary-Jess Leaverland: Singer/Songwriter

Mary-Jess Leaverland


Mary-Jess came to Nanjing, China in 2009 to study Mandarin and won 民星唱翻天, a live music competition on Chinese TV dubbed ‘The Chinese X Factor’. Since then, she has brought out an album featuring some of China’s most accomplished musicians, won numerous classical awards, toured with Russell Watson, had national TV appearances in the UK and China, and sang the Downton Abbey theme tune. Mary-Jess is also a global ambassador for Half the Sky, a charity that supports orphaned children in China. 

Katie Lee: Director China Relations, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

Katie Lee

Director China Relations, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

A British Council scholarship allowed Katie to spend a year at Shandong University in 1984. She now has over 30 years’ experience of working with China and is currently a Strategic Relationship Manager for UKTI, developing relations between key Chinese investors and British companies operating in China. Previously, Katie was Director of the Great Britain – China Centre, which promotes mutual understanding by engaging with the Chinese government, civil society, academia and the Communist Party. 

Pia MacRae: Country Director, Save the Children, China

Pia MacRae

Director, International Development, Oxford Policy Management

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. Prior to this, Pia was the Chief Executive of the Tropical Health and Education Trust in London, an international health NGO. Before that, Pia spent a decade working with BP, focusing on their External Affairs work in Asia and Africa and heading up BP’s Corporate Responsibility practice in China.

Simon MacKinnon: OBE, Chairman Sinophi Healthcare

Simon MacKinnon OBE

Chairman, Sinophi Healthcare

Simon first came to Shanghai in 1985 to teach English. Since then, he has received an Honorary Citizenship of Shanghai and was selected as one of the Olympic Torch carriers for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Simon has led numerous companies, such as Sinophi Healthcare, which invests in Chinese hospitals and connects them to the NHS. 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.

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 and team integrations. As an expert in combining diversified global management teams, Gordon illustrates how crucial understanding of diverse business cultures and international experience is. He regularly posts on LinkedIn about economic developments in China, and is one of LinkedIn’s official Influencers.

Rachel Parslew

Rachel Parslew

Arts Consultant; Chair, Dance Art Foundation

Rachel is an experienced international arts project manager and developed a particular interest in China in the late 1990s. She co-founded a series of creative exchange projects with Chinese and UK artists including ‘Chinese Crackers’ and ‘100 Words’, and worked for Visiting Arts on three China-UK Arts Management Programmes. She co-produced the National Youth Theatre’s performances in Beijing in 2008 as part of the Cultural Olympiad and at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.  


Tina Redshaw: British Consul-General in Chongqing

Tina Redshaw

Diplomat at Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London

Tina’s connection with China started with a British Council scholarship in Nanjing in the early 80s. Serving currently as the British Consul-General in Chongqing, Tina has twice previously worked in the British Embassy in Beijing. Between those positions, she was British Ambassador to Timor Leste. Before joining the Foreign Office, Tina had worked for almost a decade for Voluntary Service Overseas, as Country Director for China/Mongolia and Regional Programme Manager for East/South East Asia. 

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell

Founder and CEO, WPP

Sir Martin has a distinguished career in international business, including more than 30 years as CEO of WPP, the world’s largest advertising and marketing services group, and as an Ambassador for British Business. Ever since Sir Martin first visited the country in 1989 for a WPP board meeting, he has closely followed its growth and development. He is an outspoken supporter of young people engaging with Chinaand frequently speaks and writes on the topic.

Steve Tappin: CEO Xinfu and Presenter BBC CEO Guru

Steve Tappin

CEO, Xinfu; Presenter, ‘CEO Guru’, BBC

Steve is known as the first Westerner to connect with China’s industry leaders, and reveals his insights in his books such as ‘Secrets of Chinese CEOs’. He also hosts the BBC TV series ‘CEO Guru’ (featuring influential leaders such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma) and presented the BBC documentary ‘China’s Billionaires’ Club’.  He is the CEO of Xinfu and helps Western companies open in China, and one of LinkedIn’s global Influencers, posting frequently on business culture in China.

Joseph Tenzin Oliver: Founding Partner at We Impact

Joseph Tenzin Oliver

Social Entrepreneur

Joe first came to China to study Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Shaolin Kung Fu. He returned in 2009 with the British Council as part of the China 400 Delegation of Cultural Leaders, and started his first company in China in 2011. He has become a pioneer of sustainability and innovation, dedicated to advising companies, social enterprises and non-profits on how to implement positive change across the globe. He has founded five companies to this end, and was based in Beijing for five years.