Once a withdrawn and struggling nine-year-old, then an improving ambitious and industrious teen, and now a young man who stepped up to the plate to reform Hong Kong’s overseas education industry. Mr. Samuel Chan is now the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLink, reveling leading a young and go-getter team stationed in Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Samuel spent eight years at Gresham’s Preparatory School in Norfolk, progressing smoothly through the British education system. He pursued his degree in Economics at The University of Nottingham and subsequently completed his postgraduate studies at The University of Warwick.
Having completed his Master’s Degree at the University of Warwick, Samuel taught at an international school and was quickly appointed as a consultant. It was at this time that he saw the need for students to receive more comprehensive information on studying abroad. “Students are indeed our future, they deserve so much better.” said Samuel.
Ever the opportunist, Samuel recognised the opportunity to take what was an oligopoly system of education agency and market to another level. Realising that education exhibitions and seminars are the most productive means for families to apply to British schools, Samuel was alarmed by how infrequent such events were held. Likewise, Samuel was passionate about adding a new dimension to the field of education consultancy, one which is not almost solely reliant on statistics, league tables and uninformed guesses on the part of inexperienced consultants.
Against a backdrop of increasing demand for a British boarding education and an oligopoly market, Samuel founded Britannia StudyLink with a view to provide an unbiased and informative UK boarding school selection platform. His exciting entrepreneurial journey ensued at a 300 square feet office in Wan Chai – and then came the “blood, sweat and tears”, as Samuel famously put it. Perseverance being one of his strongest qualities, Samuel went on to spend twelve months in the UK knocking on the doors of over 200 schools. As they had only ever been accustomed to accepting a handful of pupils a year from the region, they were reluctant to collaborate with education groups at first. Fortunately, word-of-mouth helped Britannia on its way with word spreading very quickly about the company’s professional and caring approach. Britannia was soon placing Hong Kong students into schools right around the UK.
Under Samuel’s leadership, Britannia StudyLink expanded rapidly. His aim was to increase the transparency and productivity of the entire school application process. He has managed to achieve this aim to some degree by bringing UKiset to Hong Kong. Expansion has also meant placing over 900 students into British boarding schools, expanding Britannia’s lively Hong Kong head office at Causeway Bay to 3000 square feet and setting up the first overseas branch in Malaysia in September 2016.
Samuel’s desire to get the “bread and butter” elements of school placement in order, namely the organisation of small-scale seminars, presentations and education exhibitions, has rewarded him with tremendous respect among parents, head-teachers and pupils. From the Cardiff Sixth Form College Oxbridge Preparation Course to presenting to readers of the Sing Tao Daily, Samuel and his bright team, whom he has come to trust and nurture so majestically, have put their stamp on the overseas education scene in Hong Kong. Indeed, once a start-up, but now a real force with over 20 employees bridging the gap between world-class schools and conscientious pupils. Importantly, Britannia’s pupils are a breath of fresh air for any school. “We love Britannia pupils”, heads have been known to exclaim.
Britannia and Samuel continue to grow from strength to strength. With Samuel’s entrepreneurial success attracting over thirty local and overseas media companies to invite him for newspaper and radio interviews or to give talks, it seems he has the whole world in his hands. Samuel was also invited by TVB and ViuTV to be their TV show’s technical advisor in 2016. With his expertise and the power of word-of-mouth, Samuel soon received invitations from various local media groups, such as The Standard, South China Morning Post (Education Post), Hong Kong Economic Journal and Headline Daily to feature as columnist. He also frequently writes articles on his personal Facebook page “UK Chitchat” to share his insights on UK education and culture. As Samuel puts it: “One of the factors which sets our company apart is that we took a further step to provide our expertise and insights to the public for free, in a bid to make overseas education information more easily accessible and build up the public’s basic know-how about UK’s schooling system. We combine the power of print media and social media and adopt them as our major marketing channel.”
Samuel Chan – a forward-thinking leader yet not one to get ahead of himself and take outlandish risks. He refuses to conform to traditional marketing strategies, adopting the Key Opinion Leader model. Samuel, Mr MB Cheung and Ms Mabel Chan are now the company’s three key opinion leaders of the field, utilizing social media to help online users to learn about overseas education and Britannia.
Britannia celebrates creativity and individuality. Samuel is known to bounce around the office in jeans and just a plain t-shirt. Sensible discipline goes hand in hand with high flexibility. “UK education is about being all rounded and thinking outside the box. Our company philosophy best illustrates that at Britannia we create, we execute, we dream. A friendly environment is what we promote at Britannia and proudly so.” said Samuel.
Several of Samuel’s career highlights include being asked to write for the HKEJ, one of Hong Kong’s most well-respected newspapers. Moreover, winning the Hong Kong Emerging Service Brand Award at the end of 2015 only confirmed the innovative and enterprising nature of Britannia. Upon winning the award, Samuel’s words went a long way to demonstrate his most positive traits. With “This Award is Britannia’s Award” – not a hint of selfishness in sight. Praise for his mentor, MR MB Cheung, conveyed exceptional gratefulness, while praise for his team of employees was lengthy and honest.
Life in the fast lane – all the time – and Samuel is looking forward in a realistic manner. One can “never be too complacent, we have hit milestones but we haven’t achieved what we want”. Samuel wants to make the application process to British schools even more transparent, perhaps by getting more schools on board using IT methods as they have to pay a lot of money to travel out to Asia for marketing purposes.
Samuel’s passion for UK culture is one of the driving forces behind the aforementioned achievements and successes. On ViuTV, his willingness to share stories with the citizens of Hong Kong about his time at Gresham’s shows how he embraced a new culture with open-arms. Overseas education specialist – Samuel may be, but he is also a proven parent-child relationship expert and ardent follower of child psychology. Clearly, Samuel Chan is a man on a mission to right the wrongs of an industry once so flawed but now so wonderfully respected.