ACG Schools set students up with the breadth of skills they need to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world – and for ACG alumna Cecily Liu, the capabilities she developed there have shaped every stage of her unique and diverse career journey.
In the 12 years since graduating from ACG Senior College (now part of ACG Parnell College), Cecily has gained a BA in English literature from University College London, worked as a journalist and been a senior financial services research advisor at the City of London. Currently, she is Managing Director of Visionary Education (a charity that seeks to improve the quality of rural schools in China), while simultaneously studying towards her MBA at INSEAD in France.
“It’s exciting to think of how creative we can make our career paths in our fast changing world today – a world where new professions are emerging, and the skills required for each profession are also constantly shifting,” says Cecily.
“It takes courage and imagination to stay ahead of the curve, as well as follow one’s passion and personal development journey.”
The foundations for her nimbleness, adaptability and openness for change were firmly laid during her year at ACG.
“I deeply valued the intellectual freedom to think, discuss, debate and explore new ideas above and beyond the syllabus, which was very much at the heart of Senior College’s academic culture. It instilled in me a keen sense of curiosity and continued search for truth, which has shaped every stage of my journey. My most important takeaway is that the pursuit of knowledge is fun and allows us to learn so much about ourselves and the world.”
In Cecily’s current role at Visionary Education she leads the charity’s strategic direction, manages its teams of volunteers, communicates with key stakeholders, and oversees the delivery of key programmes and marketing efforts.
“I’m really enjoying it and judging by how much the job market is changing, I feel liberated thinking this charity role can help me build up critical skills to advance my career in new directions in the future.”
But it’s not just about career progression. Visionary Education is a cause very close to Cecily’s heart.
“It was founded after an earthquake which killed hundreds of children in my home province Sichuan in 2008, so I deeply resonate with the charity’s mission.”
She initially joined the organisation as Director of the Teach Rural Schools Programme, taking teams of volunteers to deliver summer camps in rural schools. She devoted her weekends to leading the programme’s planning and took annual leave from her full-time job in the UK to deliver the summer camp in rural China. It started as a community engagement activity she loved, and now has become a critical part of her identity.
“My new role as Managing Director enables me to leverage on my existing skills and experience to help the charity scale up. No two days are the same. I oversee and participate on all tasks, so my schedule is diverse, varied and flexible. It’s hard work but also extremely rewarding and I feel I’m constantly energised by meeting new volunteers and helping them turn their ideas into reality.”
Cecily and her team are now making exciting plans to leverage on digital tools and new learning models to assist more rural schools, and bring even greater benefits to the schools, the principals, and the children they help.
It’s not what she once imagined she’d be doing, but she couldn’t be happier.
“When I graduated from university, I thought I’d spend my whole life working as a journalist, but the insight I gained on the job empowered to me explore other career options. Each role I’ve had has given me significant transferable skills as well as unique insights to take to the next role.”
Her journey is a shining example of how adaptability and transferable skills are like gold dust in today’s world. And even more importantly, how doing something you love brings the richest rewards.
“Follow your passion and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your abilities and achievements.”