UK and Japan, sorry, China, commit to tech during Strategic Dialogue

Jeremy Hunt did well to think of flowers and chocolate for his wife (‘Mrs H’) this week.

As many of us know, the new Foreign Secretary made an unfortunate slip of the tongue when meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. We’ve all been there…though perhaps not before powerful statespeople.

More relevant, though not quite so fun, was the meatier stuff discussed during the 9th China-UK Strategic Dialogue. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation in new industries and new business ‘forms’ including artificial intelligence, green energy and the digital economy.

There’s been strong interest recently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an umbrella term that means all sorts of things that will likely change our lives, as had the smartphone and internet era previously. Both the UK and China, among other nations, are leading the way in this new wave of innovations and have complementary abilities.

So the message is increasingly clear: if you specialise in high-end stuff like AI, robotics and renewables, now’s your time – as demonstrated by February’s mega-deals between British and Chinese companies.

One of this year’s deals was with the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei – a whopping £3 billion agreement. This week the Shenzhen-based manufacturer saw the arrival of 50 participants from the UK in its Seeds for the Future training programme.

The global programme, now in its third year, includes the involvement of STEM students from the UK’s leading universities, who will be in China for one month to gain work experience.

 

Wavemaker encourages employees to work abroad

A beach in Bermuda

In a popular LinkedIn post, UK Marketing Director Loren Penney-Thomas described working abroad as the best career decision you’ll make. I believe she’s right.

She explains that her company Wavemaker, a London-based media agency, gives its staff opportunities to work overseas under its Globaltrotters programme:

which gives staff the opportunity to be immersed into another global market for a 2-3 week cultural and learning experience. With destinations such as Lisbon and Singapore, Sydney and Dubai, the beauty is that you don’t know where you’re going to go; it’s the ultimate work roulette for nomadic souls.

Wavemaker announced last month on its Facebook page that eight ‘Wavemakers’ were selected to experience a destination that included Dubai, Sydney, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, Warsaw, Singapore, Istanbul or London.

It’s a great initiative that more companies should be offering, while 2-3 weeks of course is a mere teaser (it takes years to get to know a culture properly). Also, people should experience an overseas culture and work environment first before fully committing to a long-term overseas assignment, which is fraught with risk.

Working abroad is not only a great career decision – in many cases it’s a great life decision. There is a gargantuan difference between travel to a foreign location on holiday and fully immersing yourself in it (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

I remember visiting places like Malaysia for the first time as a tourist, and while fun and ‘exotic’, unravelling them like an onion took years. But with that came things like deep and meaningful friendships, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, empathy, experiencing cultural celebrations, and travel to destinations recommended by locals rather than foreigners.

Flight Network names World’s Best Journeys List for 2018

Road trip

As we head into summer (or winter, depending on your hemisphere), we can allow ourselves a respite from the usual to recharge body and soul.

They say that travel broadens the mind, and the most rewarding travel in my experience is through the trips themselves – hiking, biking, road trips, and boat rides, and whatever else that takes your fancy to get from A to B.

It’s one reason why digital nomads do what they do; you can either work from an office, or mix things up a little and do what you have to do while island-hopping across the Andaman.

Of course, some trips are better than others – anti-clockwise on the M25 isn’t the most inspiring journey in the world – which is why the FlightNetwork and more than 500 travel journalists, agencies, bloggers and editors came together to create the World’s Best Journeys list for 2018.

I consider myself a reasonably well-travelled person, but looking at the list of 50 journeys from around the world, I have a lot of catching up to do. Cruise to Alaska, yep – done that, and it’s a hai to the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo, but I have only completed bits and pieces from the others listed.

It’s tempting to say these are timeless trips. They are not. The world is changing quickly, and destinations such as Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica and Mont Blanc will not be the same with ice in retreat. Better to travel sooner rather than later – other things in life can wait.

Here are FlightNetwork‘s top 20:

  1. Expedition to Antarctica
  2. Cruise the Galapagos Islands
  3. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway
  4. Trek to Machu Picchu
  5. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
  6. Drive Iceland’s Ring Road
  7. Cruise to Alaska
  8. Camino de Santiago
  9. Sail the Greek Islands
  10. Drive the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia
  11. Road Trip on Route 66
  12. Fjord Cruise in Norway
  13. Amazon River Cruise
  14. Explore the Italian Countryside
  15. Travel the Silk Road
  16. Drive the Amalfi Coast
  17. French Polynesia Coast
  18. Safari in Kruger National Park
  19. Drive the Great Ocean Road
  20. Hike along Cinque Terre

As for my own favourite journeys, it’s the usual smorgasbord of landscapes and experiences that were more personal than anything.

They included the road trip from Madrid to Almeria when I was a 20 year old student, joining others in drinking red wine as olive groves led to high mountain sierra; driving through the ember-hued Scottish Highlands during twilight having just scaled Ben Nevis; and seeing the jungle-clad Perhentian islands come into view as my buttocks collided repeatedly with the speedboat; among others.

FlightNetwork‘s list of top 50 journeys, that includes galleries and info on how to get to destinations (at the end of the day, FlightNetwork is an online travel agency), can be seen here.