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Alumni Story | Anita CHEN:An Eager Sailor, An Active Dreamer

Anita CHEN Founder & CEO of Sailing Leadership KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA 2013 Intake

A trend for years in the field of education worldwide, the concept of STEAM* has been quietly growing over the past two years in China. It is a practice-oriented, interdisciplinary and comprehensive education aiming to develop talents with integrated knowledge, innovative spirit and problem-solving ability. Supporter of the concept and optimistic about the market prospect, Anita CHEN decided to create her own business by integrating STEAM into the field of her working expertise and thus Sailing Leadership was born. Different from other popular STEAM projects focused on intelligent area such as programming, Sailing Leadership attaches great importance on “leadership” and “social skills” so as to foster future global civic “leaders”.

*Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths

An entrepreneurial project inspired by sailing & MBA

Anita’s passion for sailing comes from the 7 years she spent in working for the luxury yachting industry. She joined successively Beneteau Asia Pacific – Lagoon Asia, Brunswick Boat Group China, Poly Marquis Yachts China and Princess Yachts Greater China, as marketing manager, marketing director, business development director and marketing & sales director. During the period, she came to know about the activity of sailing and got impressed with the charm of this sports filled with art and science.

“No other sports have made me feel like sailing does. It is an activity full of unknown and challenge, demanding a strong combination of will, knowledge and skills. In face of the ever-changing sea, you feel weak and small, however, when you try hard to hold the helm against the resistance, you feel accomplished. And the beauty of the sea merging into the sky will find you peace and serenity, making you feel deeply connected with the nature.” All the qualities required by sailing meet the concept of STEAM and that’s why Anita chose to make sailing the core of her entrepreneurial project.

Compared to traditional training courses (instruments, dancing, chess, foreign languages, etc.), sailing has many advantages such as interdisciplinary learning, leadership development, cooperation ability cultivation and practical skills improvement, etc. And the emphasis put on “leadership” stems from the inspiration that Anita got from her learning in KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA: “I envisage that sailing leadership could be like an MBA for kids and adolescents. It is not only about the qualities they cultivate from the courses and activities, but more importantly, they learn how to make use of these qualities, to organise them and make decisions. And at the end of the training, I wish they could become a manager, a future global civic leader.”

The core competitiveness based on R&D and diversification

Though the domestic STEAM education market is still at its early stage, projects have been blooming in recent years. How to take up its place on the stage and have its own core competitiveness has become a vital question for all projects initiators. According to Anita, to excel from all kinds of STEAM projects, a stable and considerable investment into the R&D of courses and the diversification of the products is a must.

There is no doubt that the courses are at the core of the training. Before the market approaches its maturity, creating influential courses in response to the market’s need is the only way to become the standard for the industry. In Anita’s eyes, Sailing Leadership has delivered a great performance concerning the faculty (bilingual, 50% Foreigners + 50% Chinese with master degree or above, Professional Sailing instructors) and interactions at class (games, scientific experiment, theatrical performance, public speech, hands-on experience combined with personality test and behaviour analysis). And next, the team will stay focused on the improvement and innovation of the courses based on the feedback both from classes (teaching aids adjustment) and social visits (company family days) and professional advice from education experts.

As for the diversification, after one year and a half from its establishment, Sailing Leadership has put forward a variety of courses and activities to the public such as offline STEAM courses dedicated to kindergartens and primary schools, online experimental kit adapted to family use, weekend camp, summer/winter camps, parent-child tours or vacations, etc. “we’ve been adding new things to our curriculum and activities in the light of the market trend and in the meantime, we insist on the standardization in order to facilitate the reproducibility.said Anita, “Benefiting from the diversified products and services and its reproducibility, our business has extended from Shanghai to many big coastal cities.”

A parent-child relationship of company, cooperation and growth

The parent-child relationship plays a critical role in the education for kids and adolescents. In Sailing Leadership, Anita and her team wish that participants could receive a relationship of company, cooperation and growth. “We hope to break the parents-leading situation, encourage the children to become the leader and guide their parents to help them complete the task.” In Anita’s view, this will not only help the children develop self-confidence and have equal conversations with their parents, but also allow parents to discover the potentials of independence and autonomy in their children. And even after the activities, Anita hopes that this kind of relationship could last and have a positive impact on their daily life.

In April, 2018, as member of the board committee of KEDGE Kids Club, Anita shared the training courses of high quality of Sailing Leadership to KEDGE alumni in the opening event of the club, and together with the event, the sharing of this relationship of company, cooperation and growth.

A branding-oriented development for the near future

Speaking of the development in the near future, Anita said she will focus on the branding of Sailing Leadership and enhance the brand awareness. At the same time, she wishes to develop the IP of the brand. Besides the launched collection of Marine Market (peripheral products using the captain owl as brand mascot), she wants to cooperate with organisations in the creative industry to introduce picture books, animations, stage plays to the public.

In pursuit of educational equity, Anita will also lead her team to participate into more CSR projects, which is also an important part of the branding. Before, Sailing Leadership has already been part of projects dedicated to “autistic children” and “children left behind”.

I am an eager sailor, a passionate dreamer. During my entrepreneurial sailing, I will dare to take risks, fear not to face the challenges and stay firm and confident so as to find my true values and realise my dream.” So expressed Anita about her expectations for the future.

Sailing Leadership Focused on Sailing & Leadership Education for 6-18 years old students

The Project Based Learning (PBL) course combined with the diversified experiment teaching method covers all-round development and education. The STEAM general education model focuses on Leadership and the development of key competencies. Its aim is to foster future global civic leaders.

To know more about Sailing Leadership

via the QR code

*Pictures from the official wechat of Sailing Leadership


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