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Angie GUO: Work for Fun, Live for Real

Angie GUO

KEDGE Business School ESC 2010 Intake

Founder of Pinetree Innovation

Futurist & Brand Strategy Director 

Angie is someone who will impress you with her smile and passion at first sight. From an overseas returnee to an entrepreneur, she has chosen an unconventional career path. “Independent”, “innovative”, “perseverant”, and “socially responsible”, in her interview, you’ll capture a new image of young entrepreneurs of our time.


A “Funnel-like” Way of Learning:

Find Your Real Passion

“I’ve always been interested in exploring the business world. At the very beginning, I was not sure about my future orientation, so I chose Business Administration as major for my undergraduate study at Tongji University. The systemic and comprehensive business learning has not only given me a general understanding of many business sectors such as finance, marketing, logistics and supply chain, but also helped me find the specialised area that I’m really interested in.” said Angie recalling her student days. In her opinion, after you have laid a solid foundation on what you’re studying, the process of learning should be like a funnel where you make choices, find your real passion and then further an in-depth development in that area. “I decided to focus on marketing during my undergraduate years. And it was after my master study at KEDGE and the internships that I did during that period that I finally fixed the direction of my future development: marketing research and brand consultancy.” According to Angie, her fast growth in this field largely relies upon this "funnel-like" way of learning.


Study at KEDGE:

A Perfect Bridge Leading to Work

“I feel quite lucky to have passed the selection and got enrolled in the 3+2 joint programme between Tongji and KEDGE Business School. The study at KEDGE has greatly enhanced my abilities on self-expression, practical operation and cross-cultural communication, which is later proven key to the job-seeking.”  In Angie’s view, it is exactly the study experience at KEDGE that has enabled her to complete the perfect transition from school to work.

“New graduates often find that there is a big gap between what they’ve learned at school and what the workplace demands. But I didn’t feel such a gap since I’ve already done a lot of real projects simulation on classes at KEDGE.” Angie named some of the classes such as “Marketing Strategy”, “Luxury Marketing” and spoke highly of the teaching method employed in these classes.According to her, this kind of teaching encourages students to take full participation into the project from its launching to the final delivery, which has allowed her to see clearly how each function in a company works and developed her capacities in practical operations. “Besides, KEDGE also taught me how to let my voice out while respecting others and be active in communications, which later become a plus in my work.” Reviewing her career experiences, Angie attributed her outstanding performance to these soft skills acquired at KEDGE. “The study environment at KEDGE is highly international. In group works, you are required to cooperate with students from different cultures, which forces you to become more tolerant, easy to communicate and empathetic. While on class, each of your participation is counted into the final score, which encourages you to recognise the value of your ideas and build your confidence and ability to express yourself in public. ”


Career Transition:

Personal Realisation through Entrepreneurship

After graduation, instead of finding a job in large firms, Angie worked successively in Thomson Lighting (Paris) and Albatross Global Solutions (Shanghai), two small and medium sized French companies, in the field of marketing & marketing research. In the eyes of our interviewee, small and medium sized companies are more capable of helping rookies make major progress as recruits are often required to wear multiple hats at the same time. Moreover, people working there are more connected and encouraged to develop their potentials with the respect for individual ideas.

“I really like the working style of small companies, but considering the outreach and depth of my career development, I decided to challenge myself by joining a big company and to get to know their operation mode.” In 2015, Angie took the position of Marketing Research Manager in Nielson (Shanghai). From executive level to management level, Angie developed a better understanding of leadership and broadened her network with customers from all sorts of industries. That being said, Angie also admitted that comparing to big companies where people place greater focus on the overall efficiency and profits of the company and the working mode is more standardised, she has a personal preference for cultural, innovative and exploratory works. And that’s why she made her decision to create her own business. “Years of working experience makes me more determined to integrate my personal interests into work. When you have no passion for the consultancy and marketing research you conduct, how your clients could be impressed by you? Instead of being solely motivated by self-interest, I intend to give full play to my initiatives and potentials and to do some original works that can help people step out of their comfort zone. When I realised that there was really a big market ahead for this kind of work, I decided to create an opportunity for myself.” Early 2017, Angie created Pinetree Innovation – an innovative brand consultancy company with the Brett, co-founder of the company. 


Business Positioning:

A Small and Amazing Creative Boutique

Given the availability of resource and projects at the early stage of the entrepreneurship, the two founders decided to adopt a flexible model to build their consultancy team: the company consists of a permanent team and some strategic partners. These strategic partners are usually experts in different areas and they have a wealth of experience. Each project will have its customised team and each member can choose to join the projects according to his or her own will and interest. “This model not only alleviates our stress at the beginning of the entrepreneurship, but also allows us to collaborate with more talented people who share the same values.” The result turned out to be very promising: the business volume rises steadily while Pinetree Innovation remains a company of “mini size”. “With the increase of business volume, we should certainly expand our team and our strategic cooperation network. How to find more projects, how to build contact with new customers and win their trust, how to find the right team, these are the main concerns for us at present.” said Angie.

Distinctive from traditional marketing research and brand consultancy companies, Pintree Innovation aims to be “customised” instead of “standardised”, “pioneering” instead of “conventional”, and “flexible” instead of “rigid”. In the process of selecting projects, the team takes passion and interest as top priority and aims to maximize the fun and accomplishment that they harvest through the work while taking the company’s profits into account.


Future Plan:

Focus on Business Development

Looking to the future, Angie said that the start-up will focus on the recruitment of strategic partners and the business development. The team expansion project will also be put on the agenda taking every member’s needs and opinions into consideration. In addition to their main business, Angie also expressed her willingness to run some side projects in the field of culture and social research, such as projects about equal rights, animal adoption and emotion management. Angie hoped that with the strong KEDGE alumni network, she could achieve cooperation with more amazing and innovative talents.

WE are an innovative research agency and truly love what we are doing. 

WE create sparkling lens on business through human insights and nuanced understanding of culture.



Advice to KEDGE Students & KEDGErs-to-be

According to Angie, the “Gap Year” that KEDGE offers to the students is a good choice. The school encourages the students to take a year or a half-year to do some full-time job and then come back to school to continue the study. “Many choose to give up on the gap year in order to graduate on schedule, but I recommend that you take the chance and make the most of this period to try something you desire or to experience some jobs you’re interested in before really going to the workplace. For some, it's a waste of time, but I think everything you’ve learned out of interest will not be in vain. You know, if Steve Jobs hadn't quit the college and attended the art classes where he learned about typography design for fun, the amazing fonts on Mac would have never existed. ” Angie suggested that the young students have a clear objective before setting off and experience as much as possible during the journey so that they could find the direction before graduation, adjust accordingly the career plan and work for what they are really passionate about in the future.



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