Life at Deloitte
Xu, Ellie Yi Bing
Manager | Mergers & Acquisitions (CFA)
How has the experience of studying and working in New York influenced you?
I went to high school in the UK before completing my undergraduate study in the US. Most courses in undergraduate business school revolved around team-based projects and presentations in order to prepare students for real life workplace scenarios. Outside curriculum, I also joined Beta Alpha Psi, a business fraternity. While being assigned different topics, students took the initiative to play various roles among a team, and explore strengths and specialties of each member to maximize team resources and expertise. Since then, I have started to apply this mentality to work, social and life occasions.
After graduation I worked at Deloitte's NYC office for four years. This experience further shaped my working style. I was working at a "superstar" audit team, where the manager and seniors were extremely focused on efficiency and always seeking shortcuts and streamlines. All my team members were "workaholics"—to achieve above and beyond and to perform at the next level, for instance, an A1 would offer to complete an assignment that should have been done by an A2. I was inspired by this environment to always keep it up. The team also advocated open communication and on-the-job training. Every experienced colleague would use their spare time to train and mentor junior staff, who would get an answer to every question raised. This coaching culture greatly motivated me and other newbies. The team also employed flexible working hours and telecommuting. For example, during adverse weather conditions in winter, we would work at home with work arrangements made in advance.
During the decade of living abroad, I experienced some cultural shock. Since studying in the UK, I have learned and adapted to the social scenes in the West. China features an "acquaintance society"—unfamiliar people make small talks out of courtesy, whereas social life in UK and the US is dominated by parties. A group of people openly exchange ideas even though some of them might be meeting for the first time. The meeting of minds could quickly lead to in-depth conversations.
How would you spend your spare time after school and work in US?
During my spare time, I took advantage of the vibrant culture life that New York City offered - visiting museums and art exhibitions, seeing theatre plays and musicals, and enjoying cuisines from all over the world. The New York office organized employees to participate in many public service activities, and I took part in Junior Achievement—to teach at local primary schools, Youth About Business—to coach high school students to prepare for business case competitions, and Soup Kitchen—to provide food for homeless people, which made me cherish and appreciate what I have been given in my life.
What I learned during my time in the US is that competence and efficiency at workplace promotes the quality of life. The skills and confidence built up at work empower me to discover more joy from life, which forms a virtuous cycle.
Be positive and grateful, and look for opportunities to contribute to the community
Why did you decide to relocate to Shanghai after settling down in the US? What challenges have you encountered after returning back home?
During a family reunion trip to Shanghai, I decided to come back. The Chinese economy has been developing rapidly, and I saw more opportunities back home. I joined Shanghai Mergers & Acquisitions (CFA) team. After being away from Shanghai for a decade, I needed to readjust to the environment at home, from client relationship management to corporate culture, which was a challenge for me.
How to lead a young team?
Millennials and younger generations are making up a growing percentage of our department. I spend time getting to know my team's junior staff personally, learning about their past experiences and hobbies, and finding common topics to break the ice. I introduced best practices from the New York office and applied the coaching methodologies to my team to enhance motivation and engagement at work. I encourage young colleagues to ask questions and make requests on their own and provide them with sufficient guidance and appropriate resources. I believe having space to develop and learning to work independently is key to long-term growth.
I also contributed to team building and social gathering events. During our team outing in Suzhou last December, I took up the role of photographer and made a short video to capture the precious moments for our team.
Support the team, ensure adequate resources, and train the team to deliver high quality services; create an open and respectful team environment
We've heard that you are a travel expert and have been to over 20 countries. Can you share some memorable travel experiences?
"You can either travel or read, but either your body or soul must be on a path to discovery". I travel to at least one different country every year to experience different cultures and to broaden my horizons. I like to record my travel stories with cameras and make short videos to share the precious moments with friends and family. To me, traveling is a chance to get away from the churn and burn of the daily routine and explore the vast, wonderful world. The preparation work and video footage edits are meticulous, to which I can apply project management skills learned at work to make the experience more fulfilling and efficient.
Hiking in the various National Parks of North America is one of the most stunning travel experiences. Admiring nature's creations and feeling its miraculous healing power is the highlight of the trips. I learned to stay vigilant in order to cope with any potential risks caused by unpredictable weather conditions, which trained my risk assessment and emergency management abilities.
Another memorable experience was to take my parents to set foot on the Antarctica continent last December. It was the trip of my dream! Antarctica may seem to be a distant destination, but often it only takes a brave first step to make your dreams come true. I made it!
The trip to Antarctica opened up a whole new world to me—it felt like a different planet, as the continent is known for its distinct landscape, meteorology, hydrology, and ecological features, which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Its uniqueness and enigma left a strong and lasting impression on me.
On the expedition vessel to Antarctica, I learned from a polar explorer about the hardships and misfortune people encountered during their exploration of the last untouched territory on Earth a hundred years ago. I marvelled at the immenseness of the universe and man's insignificance. To me, it underscores our responsibility to live life to the fullest.
Work-life integration—Work and life are interdependent domains of a whole. So long as synergies between the two domains are identified and leveraged, the rewards can create a thriving and satisfying lifestyle. The overseas travel experience is unexpectedly helpful to my work. When I went on a couple of business trips to Europe to assist Chinese enterprises to expand overseas, I was able to leverage my past experience living and travelling abroad to promote communication and mitigate cultural differences during business meetings. My clients also appreciated the travel tips I shared. Being able to paint a positive image of my clients and to build a trustworthy relationship with them has gave me a great sense of achievement.
Enjoy a thriving and energized lifestyle by travel
What do you think of Deloitte's firm-wide promotion of the wellbeing component of corporate culture?
Deloitte provides a variety of after-work activities for employees. Since the implementation of 4+1 culture, Deloitte's corporate culture has been clearly defined and classified to provide a constructive and cohesive working atmosphere. This increases everyone's enthusiasm and engagement at work, allowing them to make an impact no matter how small or insignificant it is. This year Deloitte organized many creative activities, such as the "culture treasure hunt" and flower arrangement courses, and the lucky draw on WeChat Moments during last year's annual celebration at Disneyland. I sometimes participate in the running events organized by Deloitte Running Club, which also enables me to get to know more colleagues across different service lines.