Mr Richard Francis
After completing my first degree in cultural anthropology at UQ (with a minor in Mandarin), I decided to embrace the adventure of globalization, and work my way around the world. Further Chinese language studies in Taiwan eventually led to over 25 years living and working offshore in China, Taiwan, India, Russia, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.
Originally, I was teaching at the Chinese Cultural University in Taipei, and considering doing research on ‘entrepreneurs’. With this goal in mind, I started working in the trading arm of a major Taiwanese conglomerate, before trying my hand as an entrepreneur, starting a business with some Taiwanese partners to export electrical goods to the US and Europe. At this early stage in my travels, I found I enjoyed doing international business as much as studying it – and that I also enjoyed learning languages. This became a pattern for me, as I combined stints of formal education (including a MBA), with international assignments in government, NGOs, marketing, management, consulting and education.
I have a wide government experience in the investment and trade development field as an Austrade Trade Commissioner in India and Russia, and as the Chief Representative for the Asia Pacific for the Swiss Canton of Schaffhausen. In the international HE field, I have worked in major education markets as the China Campus Director of French Business School SKEMA, and I was also responsible for Swiss business school IMD’s corporate development activities in Eastern Europe, the CIS and East Asia.
I have also had the opportunity to work in the private sector, where my favourite projects included a number of start-ups. I was the COO of the Swiss-Swedish IT start-up Intelligent Technologies. While serving as the President of the Australian Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI), we developed a distribution company importing Australian products into Europe. I used this experience in international sales and marketing to develop a boutique marketing and consulting business specialising in Strategic Account Management and International Business Development. Some of my clients in these ventures included Nokia, Philips, Unilever, the WTO, the UN, the Olympic Committee, Clinique La Prairie, Sara Lea and many others.
My key passions remain learning languages/cultures and the ‘internationalisation’ of both of businesses and higher education institutions. Every language you learn helps to open up a new cultural universe and I am proud to say that I have become fluent in Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and French, as well as knowledgeable in a number of other languages. In order to reflect on my experience in HE Internationalisation, I am finishing my doctorate at the International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM), which is part of the Management School at the University of Bath.
I hope this gives my future colleagues at CU some idea of ‘who I am’! I also hope that my rather diverse international experience can be useful in developing the Asian Business Centre. I am looking forward to working with you, as I am sure that Asian markets have been very prominent in your research agendas. There will be many good ideas and initiatives we can leverage to build the ABC.
I am also very much looking forward to living in Perth. I know there is a good field hockey scene for veterans, and after many years away from the sport, I am looking forward to pulling on the boots for a social game or two!