University of Sheffield graduates to help city businesses break into China

Chinese speaking graduates from the University of Sheffield are to team up with businesses in the city to help them prepare for a special trade visit to China.

Today (Thursday 24 September 2015) the University’s Great Ambassadors (China) Scheme has launched the Platinum Club project where ten SMEs in the city , which already have plans to trade in China, will be offered support to recruit a graduate who will be able to help them get ready for a trade visit to Beijing in March next year.

China linksThe initiative is part of the Sheffield in China project, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Hallam University to promote the Sheffield brand to enhance trade links with China.

Sheffield in China will use the city’s association with snooker to capitalise on the visit in March to what is the sport’s biggest marketplace. As the home of the World Snooker Championships, many Chinese business leaders will already be familiar with the steel city and the trade visit ties in with the China Open, which is being held in Beijing from 28 March 2016 for one week.

Steve Fish, Director of Careers Service at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Sheffield City Council on the Sheffield in China project and launching The Platinum Club.

“For businesses to be able to break into the Chinese market they need to overcome both language and cultural differences. This is where our graduates come in. They can use their knowledge to support businesses while for themselves they will be acquiring knowledge of UK businesses and improving their employability.

“As part of the club, ten SMEs will be invited to recruit one of our Chinese speaking graduates to help prepare them for the trip in March. This partnership will not only help to boost the local economy it could see new jobs being created for the city if the trade visits are a success.”

The Platinum Club will see the graduate become an ambassador for the SME for a minimum of six months. As well as joining the company on the trip to China, the ambassador will work on a number of projects in the run up to the visit, which could include:

  • Helping companies establish an online Chinese presence and help market the company via Chinese social media channels such as Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter);
  • Liaising with Chinese distributors;
  • Providing advice and support on Chinese business culture and etiquette;
  • Helping companies develop a Chinese version of their brand;
  • Supporting company representatives on market visits to China

Platinum Club members will get financial support with some of their travel costs to China as well as the cost of an Overseas Market Intelligent Report. Today’s launch will see SMEs signing up for the scheme at a breakfast reception being held at The Ridge, at the University’s Ranmoor Village.

Other placement opportunities for Chinese speaking students are also being offered by the
The Great Ambassadors (China) Scheme. This is an initiative between UK Trade & Investment and the University of Sheffield which is being piloted at the University of Sheffield ahead of a possible nation-wide rollout to other universities.

The scheme links businesses with the growing pool of Chinese speaking talents at UK universities, who can help businesses internationally. For further information on the scheme please email

The launch of the Platinum Club coincides with Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, visiting China this week with a high-level ministerial delegation led by Chancellor George Osborne focused on commercial partnerships, infrastructure and potential industrial links to the emerging Northern Powerhouse, particularly in advanced manufacturing.

The Sheffield in China project is funded through the Great UK Challenge Fund.

Additional information

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett is a senior advisor to China on language and culture and the Chair of the Sheffield Model Confucius Institute. He is also a regular contributor to the UK China debate on innovation and partnership in education, industry and health.