The founder of Join In China, dedicated to helping companies do business with the East Asian super economy, takes on The Raikes Journal’s 20 Questions
Choosing what to serve to her fantasy dinner party guests - Margaret Thatcher, Charlie Chaplin and Emperor Xuanzong of Tang - would probably prove as taxing as the evening would be entertaining.
Whatever the food the conversation would certainly be a cross-cultural treat, the occasion educational on all levels – and with Mr Chaplin present undoubtably also contain a good few laughs.
As with many who move to Gloucestershire from outside its borders and immerse in it, the qualities of the county seem more vivid and valued, and her love of where she now calls home is a passion.
And as a businesswoman adept at helping of companies bridge the giant divide of culture, space and language between her native China and family home, she is no stranger to challenges and thrives on them.
Perhaps it was to keep her appetite for a challenge fed (or perhaps it was just a little spare time in lockdown) that allowed Qing Lin of Join in China – whose answers are a joy - to take on The Raikes Journal’s 20 Questions.
Question: What is your favourite film or series?
Answer: I really want to say it’s “The Godfather”, but it’s actually “Beauty and the Beast”… oh God, can’t believe that I am saying this…
Q: You’re hosting a dinner party and can invite any three guests from any time in history. Who would they be and why?
A: Margaret Thatcher, love or hate her, for that she had the Chinese fascinated and I would love to have the opportunity to meet her and throw a few questions at her (not literally!).
The second one would be Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang) who has ruled Chinese for 43 years in Tang Dynasty (which is the longest), and speaking to him about how the Tang Dynasty became the pinnacle of culture and power – and what he would have done for the Covid-19 if he were in charge.
And finally, without a shadow of doubt, must be the amazingly talented Charlie Chaplin, whose productions formed an early memory of my childhood when I was growing up in China, as well as the culture impact from watching his films. And, of course, also, not forget to mention, that he IS very funny!
Q: What is the best bit of your job?
A: The opportunity to help others, both personally and commercially, to have such a small part in making a positive impact on cross-culture communications and bringing people from different background together.
Q: What is the worst part of your job?
A: Early mornings: I really don’t like early morning, whether it’s to travel or to do a business meeting, as the time difference between the UK and China is usually seven hours, the early morning teleconferences are a killer for me!
Q: Who was your childhood hero or the person you looked up to?
A: My father, totally!
Q: Where is your favourite place in Gloucestershire?
A: Where I live, as the village has completed embraced me when I first landed in the UK and arrived at Chalford the first day. This amazingly friendly community has welcomed me with open-arm and it’s the place I settled with my family.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone starting out now?
A: Oh gosh! This could be a long answer…. Well, the first advice, and perhaps the most important one, is to ask yourself why you want to start out: is it to create wealth? Is it passion driving you? Or both? It really doesn’t matter what it is, but be sure that you are clear about it, as the road ahead will be a mixture of excitement and disappointment, so as long as you always remember why you have chosen this route, you will be a fulfilled individual.
Q: Was there a mistake or piece of bad luck which changed things for the better?
A: Ask me the same question again in a month and I might have an answer for you. I have been dragged into an unfortunate situation with a much larger company with a multimillion turnover for whom I successfully initiated and completed an order for during the lockdown worth five digits.
Q: What is your favourite piece of music?
A: My love for piano music - which grows because of one reason, that I never learnt how to play it, despite years trying. So, I now settle for listening to the other great pianists who produce great music pieces.
Q: What qualities do you look for in a new member of staff?
A: Reliability and integrity.
Q: What is your favourite pudding?
A: Lemon cheesecakes
Q: Has the coronavirus pandemic changed how you see the world?
A: The world is hyper-connected, yet so far apart from each other, as the countries, different cultures, varied beliefs start to emerge stronger and divide countries and people. I also see more obvious resentment and fear, as well as hope when countries and people come together to fight the same good cause. Its uncertainty is not to be dismissed, yet I insist on remaining positive and hopeful.
Q: If it was in the name of pleasure – would it be car, bicycle, walk, run, swim?
A: Reading a book with a nice cup of coffee.
Q: What is the best thing about living/working in Gloucestershire?
A: It’s impossible to describe how grateful I feel every time I return from a holiday or overseas trip, to be back at this stunning place, where all my friends and their families and colleagues live, where I call home now, after living in many different southeast countries before settling down in the UK. The best thing about living and working in Gloucestershire is the amazing surroundings, the people who have welcomed me and supported me throughout. The loving community and beautiful countryside are the best.
Q: If you could wave a magic wand to achieve what you wanted to at work, what would it be?
A: On a larger scale, to make the work place a fairer place for all, to enable everyone to have the opportunities to achieve and thrive. And for my own humble working place, it would be nice to have a proper desk, as I have ‘donated’ my desk to our apprentice and yet to get a new one for myself…
Q: What’s your biggest frustration?
A: I wish to give and do more, for the business world and also for the communities, to enable better multicultural understanding and exchange, but find it hard to reach a larger audience and do more.
Q: If you could start again and had to do something else, what would it be?
A: A scientist (shame I don’t have the brain for that. Hopefully when you say ‘start again’, you mean that it also come with an adequate brain). I now try to ‘persuade’ my son to pursue that route and unfortunately he saw straight through me, responding that he is his own person and I really shouldn’t live my own dream through him!
Q: Cheltenham Festival, any of the town’s others festivals, Giffords Circus, Stroud Fringe, Gloucester Rugby v Bath, Three Choirs Festival, Cirencester food Festival, evensong at Tewkesbury Abbey, or Newent Onion Fayre? And why?
A: I am a firm believer in bringing culture to all walk of life, as this is what we as human need, not just food for the body, but culture experience is the food for the mind.
Q: If you had to recommend a pub or restaurant in Gloucestershire, what would it be and why?
A: There are so many amazing independent place here and I could not possibly just pick one out…The Egypt Mill used to be my favourite place to hang out and relax when it was an independent restaurant and hotel, but it’s now just been sold to a chain, so the hunt for a new place continues.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: Someone who is able to create a vibrant and successful business for the local community and also a positive influence in cross-culture environment.
Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
A: A kind hearted person with dignity and drive, as well as passion for both business community and society, to have contributed in diversity and equality, for a better world we all live in.
Qing Lin is founder and chief executive officer of Cirencester-based Join in China: www.joininchina.co.uk
Every week The Raikes Journal champions an individual from the Gloucestershire business community through the '20 questions' feature.
We pick them on merit (but if you want to guarantee to be featured £75 will ensure that happens and the article on you goes to our 10,000 social media connections. Email: email@example.com).
First published August 14.