14 April 2020 at 9:00 am
Meet the team: Miranda Herbert
As ENZ’s Director – Greater China, Miranda has proved to be an indispensable link between ENZ and students, providers and agents in China.
Hi Miranda. Could you tell us a bit about your professional background?
Quite a few people who work in education say that they ‘fell into’ education. I’m the same.
When I was younger I was always interested in languages. I did Japanese right through high school, I decided to continue with it at university. I asked my Dad what other language I should study, and he said I had to learn Chinese because it’s going to be an important language in the future.
I then spent four and a half years living and working in China, and became quite involved in education. I ended up working for a PTE in New Zealand, and then I moved to the University of Auckland. There I worked my way up to the deputy director of international.
What has it been like in Beijing during the outbreak of COVID-19?
I was actually in China when SARS broke out, 20 years ago, too [while at a previous role]. This time seems quite different to then. The level that China has mobilised this year has been quite amazing to experience firsthand.
It’s been really surreal, particularly during the January and February months. Despite Beijing having a population of over 20 million people, for weeks we saw no-one on the street - you could cross the road with your eyes closed, which never happens here. At other times, it could get quite depressing having to stay in all the time.
Now, things are starting to get back to normal. It really varies across China, but here in Beijing, businesses are opening again, people are starting to go into the office for work, people are going to restaurants and dining out – while still following physical distancing etiquette.
We feel really lucky that we were able to stay here, because safety comes first and foremost in China. There’s still a lot of temperature checks, for example, if you order food on the receipt it will tell you the temperature of the chef and the person who delivered it to you.
Most of Team China is working at home, and will come into the office when they need to. We’re working our butts off at the moment to keep things rolling. We’re involved in digital events almost every day. And although we’re not going out to meet people, we’re working closely alongside our agent contacts and partnership network.
What would you advise to people trying to conduct business in China?
You have to be patient and not expect results straight away. You have to nurture relationships. It’s about understanding that cultural difference, because the way China does business is quite different to back home.
A profile of Miranda wouldn’t be complete without you introducing us to your cats. Could you tell us about them?
I have two cats, one boy and one girl. They are my babies. I don’t have real babies, I have cats.
The boy is called Nonga; he’s a real big personality, everyone around here knows him and he’s becoming famous on WeChat! Even though he has stage four renal failure, he still makes us laugh. My girl is called Missy Moo – she’s more shy and is quite happy to stay at home on your lap.