Patrick Bonfils

Country of origin: Switzerland

Senior Enterprise Account Executive, salesforce.com

One of the major strengths of Lancaster University is its truly international community. During my  time on the MSc in E-Business and Innovation (EBIN) degree, I was able to make friends from all over the world. Contacts with students from China increased my interest in the country. With its strong economic growth, increasing global influence and incredibly rich history, China seemed to be the perfect place for me to explore during a summer internship. I wanted to experience the different culture, stimulate all my senses and leave my comfort zone.

I therefore contacted Dr Radka Newton, LUMS International Programmes Director. Radka was glad to help me and put me in contact with Professor Liu Peng, Acting Dean of BFSU-SolBridge International School of Business. Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) is a long-standing partner of Lancaster University and the collaborative activities between the two institutions have expanded over the past few years.

Project experience in China

Professor Liu Peng, who is an MBA alumnus of LUMS, offered me a three-month internship in the Marketing Department of BFSU-SolBridge. The great support and flexibility of the EBIN team and my supervisors Professor David Brown and Dr Didier Soopramanien made it possible for me to do my company-based dissertation project in Beijing.

The goal of the project was to explore how BFSU-SolBridge could use online services to attract more students from Europe. I developed a digital marketing strategy and plan which served as a roadmap for the higher education organisation. The report focused on practical recommendations and covered topics from web analytics to social media and online user experience. With my dissertation, I have laid some broad foundations upon which BFSU-SolBridge’s future digital marketing initiatives can be based.

The dissertation project was a fantastic opportunity because I was able to combine the cutting-edge knowledge from the EBIN programme with my previous professional experience and apply it in a real-world business situation in China. Through the welcoming and friendly environment of BFSU-SolBridge, I was able to become immersed in China’s culture and business world.

It was sometimes quite challenging to adapt in the new environment: different management styles required different tactics and handling relationships was a crucial and delicate affair. With patience, respect, modesty, persistence and the great support of the whole team, I was able to tackle the challenges. In daily life, the language barrier was probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. Despite the hard work, I still had time to enjoy the mouth-watering food, stroll through the magical Summer Palace and get lost in some of the many bustling markets.

Overall, my time in Beijing was an amazing experience that definitely broadened my horizons. The project was a great example of international collaboration and knowledge-exchange between two higher education institutions.


Patrick is now working in business development for Salesforce.com