Case study

Lucy Watts-Lanning — ​Chatteris International Graduate Programme

Chatteris Educational Foundation

After achieving a degree in English language and literature at Newcastle University, Lucy decided she wanted to work in Hong Kong, and so applied for the Chatteris International Graduate Programme where she first worked as an English tutor and then recruitment and marketing manager

Why were you interested in working abroad and in this country in particular?

While working in my first job after graduation - in a business school's careers and professional development team - I always had the idea of taking a month or two out to travel to Hong Kong.

I was well-travelled, but had never been travelling, and wanted to start seeing more of the world on a more intimate basis - and what better way to do this than by working abroad.

Hong Kong had always absolutely fascinated me. There's the skyscrapers illuminated at night, the glowing temples, the hustle and bustle of the neon-bathed streets, and of course the call of food, luring me in.

It felt like fate when my boyfriend was then offered the chance to move to Hong Kong for work. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and my Hong Kong dream started looking much further out of my reach. It became a great deal harder to just turn up to a country and see how you got on. Thankfully, this is where Chatteris, an organisation with such a clear commitment to growth and development, came in.

For years I had pictured myself standing by the window of a Hong Kong apartment looking out at the high-rises towering around me. So, when that dream finally became a reality, it felt like everything had fallen into place. The lifestyle in Hong Kong is unparalleled in variety and opportunity, and there really is nowhere else like it.

How did you research working abroad and what steps did you take to get there?

I began my research by looking at local jobs boards, and reaching out to people on LinkedIn who worked in my target companies or roles to find out more about work and life in Hong Kong.

I found out about Chatteris through a friend who already knew someone working there - this is one of Chatteris' most popular avenues of recruitment each year.

Did you need to arrange a visa or work permit?

Yes, an employment visa is required to work in Hong Kong if you do not have permanent residency. Chatteris helps you with this every step of the way. They cover the fee and manage any communications with the immigration officers.

While working abroad, what were your job titles and where were you based?

I began my international career on the Chatteris International Graduate Programme as a Chatteris English tutor. Chatteris is based in Kwun Tong, Kowloon, and I was working full time in a school in Lai King in the New Territories.

After a year as a tutor, I then became Chatteris' recruitment and marketing manager, based in the office in Kwun Tong.

Tell me a bit more about your job. What did it involve day to day?

As a tutor, I carried out daily in-school tasks and responsibilities such as planning and delivering lessons, attending co-planning meetings, creating resources and materials, and interacting with students outside of the classroom.

Chatteris places a big emphasis on creating an engaging, authentic, and dynamic environment for students to learn English in.

As recruitment and marketing manager, I direct all recruitment for the organisation, and manage the creation and distribution of our external branding and marketing, including social media. I'm able to combine all areas of my previous experience - education, career development, and marketing.

What was the country like and did you find it easy to settle in?

I found it very easy to settle in, English is an official language so not knowing Cantonese is not detrimental to everyday life. However, it is fun to learn a new language, and a little effort goes a long way.

The country is incredible. Although it is famous for its bright lights and busy streets, it is the beauty and proximity of its beaches, hiking trails, and waterfalls that really makes it shine. Everything you could possibly want is just a stone's throw away, and with incredibly efficient public transport it never takes long to get to where you want to be. From work to the beach in 25 minutes Yes please.

How does life and work in this country compare to the UK?

Work feels very similar to the UK. Many of us in the team are from the UK (a natural result of delivering an English development programme to schools), however, there is still a very international feel. Over the past two years, the team has had an average of 17 different nationalities represented. This is something I love about Hong Kong - so many different people from so many different places all coming together.

There's also the logistical benefits - Hong Kong is compact. My commute is now only 30 minutes on the reliable MTR, compared to when I used to spend at least over an hour getting the train into London (often marred by delays and cancellations). I also don't hate winter, but there is something to be said for not having to wake up in the dark or the cold.

Hong Kong truly is a city that never sleeps, and being able to visit the beach, or go on a hike, or even see the most incredible view from the world's highest rooftop bar straight after work means it cannot be beaten in my eyes for young professionals. The restaurant scene is amazing too.

Was there anything you found difficult about the experience?

It can take some time to adjust to what is available to you - different products, new services etc. During the worst of the pandemic, it was difficult to not see friends and family for such a long time, but they are always only a phone call away.

How do you feel you benefited from working abroad?

Firstly, the transferable skills gained and developed are endless. Showing that you have the initiative, flexibility, and adaptability to move abroad is invaluable in your career journey.

Secondly, the taxes are much lower in Hong Kong than in the UK.

Finally, what advice would you have for other students and graduates who would like to work abroad?

There is nothing more to be said than to go for it. You will never ever regret it.Find out more