Interview: Kathleen Ix as guest lecturer at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou

Kathleen Ix, lecturer at Brand Academy and Director of Strategy & Innovation at Superunion, went on to teach as a guest lecturer at our partner university China Academy of Art in May and June 2019. We asked her in an interview what surprised her about China and which highlight she will never forget.

Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy

Hello Kathleen, you have just spent almost a month in China at our partner university China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. What were you doing there?
In Hangzhou I taught Chinese Master students in “Consumer Insights and Psychology”. The module introduces the basics of consumer psychology. To apply their knowledge, the students questioned each other in focus groups and developed a marketing strategy based on their insights. The lessons took place over three weeks in a block every day – that was very intensive.

You are new to the BA as a lecturer, your first teaching assignment led you straight to China. Was that a jump in the deep end?
Not quite. I’ve given lectures on the subject at Brand Academy and my former universities on several occasions. I like to do that because as a student I found it interesting myself when someone from the field gave impulses for the career path. But of course the daily teaching in China had a completely different scope and was therefore a real challenge.

Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy

What appealed to you about teaching in China?
When Prof. Dr. Yonca Limon-Calisan asked me, I immediately recognized it as a unique opportunity. Since consumer insights is my passion, I knew that I would feel comfortable in this area.
I was also attracted to lecturing in China because I had never been there before. The country is very present in the media, but at the same time you hardly get a feeling for the Chinese culture over here. So there was a great opportunity to get to know China better and not just go on holiday there.

What surprised you the most during your stay there?
Hangzhou is a very modern and progressive city. As the location of Alibaba (the Chinese counterpart to Amazon), it experiences a technologization of all areas of life. For example, mobile payment is part of the lifestyle. Even in class, students can order a Milky Tea, which arrives ten minutes later.
The urban mobility also surprised me. In Hangzhou, you only move around in electric vehicles. I didn’t have all that on my radar. My previous focus in innovation research was more on trend metropolises like San Francisco or London.

Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy

What differences between Chinese and German universities did you notice in particular?
In China, many more students live directly on campus, which creates a real community. There are more events on weekends and everyone is very well connected via WeChat. There the students also share their materials in order to support each other.

What do you think we should learn here from the universities in China?
Chinese students are very motivated to look beyond their horizons. What is happening in Europe and the USA? In my opinion, we should increasingly ask at German universities what is happening in China right now.

Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy

Hamburg, the “most beautiful city in the world” and Hangzhou, ” paradise on earth” – where is it better to live?
Hangzhou is a very green city and the West Lake is an oasis with a recreational factor. Nevertheless, it is a city with 9 million inhabitants. The countless stimuli would be too much for me in the long run. Hamburg is more compact and yet offers a lot of variety with its cultural and gastronomic scene. Here I rather come to rest.

What experience was your greatest highlight when you look back at the time there?
There were many little highlights. In my spare time I visited Buddhist temples and went to Xixi National Wetland Park. Unforgettable was an evening in a beautiful restaurant amidst the tea mountains. The mixture of beautiful scenery and traditional Chinese food amazed me.

We thank Kathleen Ix for the interview and the exciting travel report about her newly won insights from China.

Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy Kathleen Ix China Academy of Arts Brand Academy

Pictures: Felix Spörl