I graduated from the Faculty of Education in 2004. At first, I tried looking for jobs in education, but it seemed that was going to take some time. During this period, a friend of mine mentioned that they were having trouble finding baijiu here in Vancouver. I thought it was strange since baijiu is such a popular drink. I did some research and found out that it was, in fact, not readily available at the time. The growing immigrant demographic from China and other parts of Asia where baijiu is popular meant that there were probably many others just like my friend and that there might have very well been an untapped opportunity in importing baijiu. I decided that I would try my hand at liquor imports, and established a company to bring Chinese liquor to Canada. Later, the company would expand to the importation of liquor from other countries as well. In my experience, it’s best to choose authentic, high-quality products, with characteristics appealing to the respective market.
I never lost my love for education, and as I have a university teaching background from China, I wanted to find ways into the field here in Canada. In 2015, I started the process of establishing a school for liquor studies—the Liquor Business Academy. The aim is to offer programmes related to the liquor industry and business development; the registration process is now underway.
In the past year and a half, I have also published 2 books on Amazon related to Chinese liquor: “Baijiu: The Flavours of China” and “Huangjiu: Traditional Chinese Liquor”.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
Two of the most impactful ideas and practices that I learned about in the Faculty of Education at UBC are research and learning by doing. UBC is very famous for its research. I remember for each course, I had to go to the relevant libraries to read many books, magazines, and other reference material. This information would then be applied to current situations. Learning by doing is another concept that I enjoyed and have tried to apply in my everyday life. The main idea of the approach is not to wait until one believes themself perfect to start a task or project; there is much to learn from trying and, hopefully, understanding a process and how it can be improved.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
I have used the research skills I gained, and have applied the concept of learning by doing in my everyday life. When I want to import a new product from China or some other territory, I have to conduct research, talking to experts in the different areas of the industry. I also work with my customers as students and try to educate them about the products, their history, benefits and so on. Learning by doing has been integral to my journey and success, it helps me manage my anxiety if I lack some specific knowledge, as I will, undoubtedly, have a firm understanding of steps and requirements after having tried new tasks.
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
I have to engage with the government when selling, promoting liquor and applying for certification of the Liquor Business Academy. Liquor within Canada is a special industry, and the government has many regulations regarding its promotion and sale. I have been able to make many friends during the liquor promotion and sales process, which has allowed me to further understand the people and society around me.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
I hope that you will participate in research opportunities and be confident to try new things, employing the strategy of learning by doing. For those newly graduated, I would say try different opportunities, as they may inevitably bring you back to or advance your existing passions. Sometimes the means through which we can achieve our goals are not immediately apparent, but trust your process and you will inevitably find success.