Just over a year ago, I had finished an eight-week summer internship with TVE and I was preparing to return to the University of Cambridge for my MPhil in History. Having successfully batted away the question of ‘what are you going to do next?’ by telling people I had an internship and then I was doing a Masters, I found myself back in the territory of being asked what I was going to do after my Masters.
After a couple of months reflecting on what my next step would be, I had the privilege of visiting a friend studying in China. It was a complete culture shock and for 10 days I was surrounded by an incredible mix of the familiar and the foreign. What really struck me was the relationship between brands, consumers and technology in China and I found my observations being shaped by concepts and terminology I had encountered at TVE.
I had so many questions – how did huge Western brands like Starbucks or Häagen-Dazs and the large designer shopping malls fit alongside the traditional Hutong neighbourhoods and the local markets of Beijing? How were Western brands translating their stories into this incredibly modern, yet in many ways quite conservative and traditional, culture? Moreover, how were they managing to stay relevant and competitive in the face of constant disruption, new technologies and explosive start-ups?
I returned from China convinced that TVE was the right place for me and the experience shaped my application for the graduate programme. Understanding how specific markets and the localised nuances of consumer behaviour within them fit into the broader overarching global market is a challenge I enjoy. Now two weeks into the job, I’ve realised that my history degrees were in many ways the perfect precursor for TVE. By encouraging my exploration of the complex dynamics between culture, continuity and transformation, I was unknowingly prepared to join the team that builds the brands that drive change.