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From China to London, how a lifetime ambition led to a thriving career with Regus
Working as an auditor for the Chinese government, Huimin Tao knew she wanted to see more of the world. At the age of just 22, she was the youngest person in her department and, one day, decided to take a chance and come to Britain to study.
“I always wanted to go abroad and experience a different life,” she says. “When I was working for the Chinese government, a lot of my colleagues were very senior and experienced. I decided I wanted to leave and study in the UK.”
After securing a place at the University of Surrey, Huimin studied HR and achieved a Masters in management. It was during her studies that she first heard about Regus and the seeds were sown of what would eventually become a thriving and successful career. “One of my friends was working for Regus back then and they asked if I wanted to do some work experience,” she explains.
Work experience and casual work for Regus followed, helping her to get to know the company, but also giving her the chance to impress her new bosses – which she certainly did. “Before I’d even finished university, they offered me a job!” she says. “I’d actually been offered three jobs while I was still studying and I couldn’t believe it, I thought, ‘Oh, wow, this is my first full time job in the UK!’”
When she started with Regus eight years ago, the serviced office sector wasn’t the high-profile industry it is today, which meant Huimin would have to do plenty of learning on the job to get to know what kind of work the role entailed. “Back then, I didn’t even know what a virtual office meant,” she says. “I wanted to know what the business was and the processes involved. Once I understood, I thought it was really interesting and varied.”
Running multiple sites for Regus means Huimin’s working day can be busy and demanding, with plenty of meetings involving clients, staff and management. But she says she really enjoys the feelgood factor of having solved problems for customers. “I like the satisfaction and achievement when you’ve done something good, because this job has multiple levels – liaising with clients, my bosses and my staff, and with things such as contracts and facility management to think about,” she says.
“What makes me happy is if I can make my clients happy and everyone is happy to come to work. That’s what makes me satisfied.”
She adds that heritage buildings can also be an interesting challenge, with some older sites having particular demands. “Sometimes there are historical issues that we have to resolve,” she says. “In many cases, they’re quite complicated and I have to work with my bosses to find a solution. But I haven’t had any case which is unresolvable.”
Huimin believes that there are a number of prerequisites that enable someone to be good at the role. “You need to be passionate about the business, have a ‘can do’ attitude and don’t take know for an answer if it’s good for the business,” she says. “You also have to be resilient. And you have to be outgoing and bubbly as we have to work closely with our clients and our colleagues.”
Being able to think on your feet and predict what clients may need further down the line is also a crucial factor in being able to build thriving business communities. “You need to have a plan in place and think five steps ahead,” Huimin concludes. “But you also need to be able to think from the customer’s point of view.”
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