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Overcoming the odds from China to Canada to Cambridge

Jiaqi Nie
Studying at Huron was a turning point for me: it opened up my mind and provided me with a global vision, which gave me the confidence to set up the bridge between China and the Western world.


We’re delighted to congratulate Jiaqi Nie on his acceptance to University of Cambridge Judge Business School for their esteemed Executive MBA program. Jiaqi, who attended Huron in 2001, was one of only 84 students accepted into Cambridge’s exclusive program, and he is the only one who is a current resident of Canada. Not to mention he was recently awarded the 2017 Executive MBA Dean’s Scholarship due to his exceptional academic and professional achievements.

Jiaqi’s Huron story began in 2001 when one of our professors, Dr. Theresa Hyland, visited Northeastern University in China to encourage eligible applicants to consider our Liberal Arts University for an exchange opportunity. Jiaqi passed the rigorous admission process and was accepted into the program. He arrived in Canada in September for a year of study, supported by a full scholarship. Jiaqi had never left China before, and he brought with him only $700 – for the entire year!

“Everything was different; the culture, language and food were all brand new. I couldn’t afford a cell phone, lap top or even a $5 calling card, and I barely had money to buy two meals a day. It was very challenging for me,” Jiaqi explains.

Jiaqi recalls using the computer in Huron’s student lounge from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. so he could have privacy while drafting emails in English to his parents. A friend in China would then translate these emails to Chinese, on Jiaqi’s behalf, to let his mom and dad know he was alive, but otherwise, he had little-to-no contact with any of the familiar and comfortable aspects of the life he left behind. The, now prominent, Chief Investment Officer and Senior Vice President of Reignwood Resources continues to reflect on the difficulty of his journey, explaining he often used to walk to Walmart in the winter to purchase a $1 loaf of bread for an entire week’s breakfast.

So, how did a starving student work up to leading roles within the US government and a Fortune 500 company in China? How did he gain responsibility for a $25 billion capital budget in the US and lead global acquisitions worth hundreds of millions of dollars as the former CEO of Baosteel Canada? He welcomed the challenges he was faced with and allowed difficult times to strengthen and shape him – rather than defeat his entrepreneurial spirit.

At Huron, Jiaqi majored in economics, but he took several social sciences courses. He found that while economics focuses mostly on numbers, the latter is where he was really able to share his story. “Huron taught me to think from various cultural viewpoints, which helps with analytical decisions,” he shares. “Studying there was a turning point for me: it opened up my mind and provided me with a global vision, which gave me the confidence to set up the bridge between China and the Western world.”

His role as Chief Investment Officer and Senior Vice President demands that Jiaqi has the critical cultural perspective to make difficult decisions that may have international consequences. He believes his background in Liberal Arts plays a very important role in his ability to do this effectively. But, for Jiaqi, Huron’s impact extends far beyond its classrooms.

“Huron changed my life completely and I am very grateful,” he says. “I was always impressed by the small classes and the great personal attention from the faculty and staff, and I feel a very strong connection to the school – even 17 years later.”

Jiaqi, who is a dear friend of Huron, has always lived his dedication to our school. Even when he had no money for the little luxuries university students sometimes afford themselves, he used the only money he had left at the end of his school year to donate $50 to Huron for a library renovation. He goes on to say how important he thinks it is for alumni to give back, explaining even a small gift can show someone’s big commitment to the school that helped shape them.

As an ambassador of Huron, Jiaqi strongly encourages international students to consider Huron University College as their destination for higher learning. He advises these potential Leaders with Heart to read about Huron’s distinguished alumni and review student testimonials. By learning more about what Huron has to offer, including the opportunity to immerse oneself in Western’s larger university culture and its close proximity to Toronto, Jiaqi believes international applicants may also find their home at Huron.

We’re so proud of Jiaqi for all of his incredible achievements, his most recent award for the 2017 Executive MBA Dean’s Scholarship at Cambridge Judge Business School due to his exceptional academic and professional achievements. We will be cheering you on from across the pond, and wish you all the very best.