For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Radley Mackenzie ’03, who recently moved to Toronto after spending seven years in China, studying the language and advising multinational companies and smaller enterprises on how to navigate the Chinese market.
Radley had a culturally enriching childhood – living in Europe, the United States and Asia, before attending Ridley. After three different high schools in three years, Ridley became his home away from home, as he attended the school from Grade 11 to OAC (formerly Grade 13). His two younger brothers also joined the Ridley ranks, spending four years at Ridley while their parents were posted to Beijing and Shanghai. Some of Radley’s biggest Ridley accomplishments include becoming a proud hockey player and team captain of the championship-winning First soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as potentially being the only student who persevered through two unsuccessful Prefectship applications.
“I suppose I studied pretty hard and did make one appearance for Ridley Idol somewhere in the mix”, shared Radley. “My grandfather was a champ boxer at Ridley back in the 1930s and my family has always had close links to the St. Catharines community, so Ridley was the perfect fit for a proper Canadian education when my folks shipped off to Beijing in 2000.”
Following graduation, Radley pursued a uniquely rewarding career path; accepting internship opportunities in Beijing, Shanghai and Chicago. After receiving his degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, he decided to reignite the momentum he had built in China. He returned and began with two semesters of Mandarin at top Chinese universities in Hanghzou and Beijing, which he notes as an undeniable advantage for native English-speakers looking to compete in the Chinese job market.
Radley’s grit paid off and allowed him to realize his ultimate goal of working for the Beijing 2008 Olympics as a Chinese speaking host for VIP/Sponsor guests – attending the opening ceremonies, cheering on Team Canada in rowing in its quest for gold, witnessing Usain Bolt win three gold medals and receiving a high-five from the sprinter on the streets of San Li Tun Bar Street were some of his expressed highlights.
Following the Olympics, Radley went on to work for the Ernst & Young advisory team in Shanghai and spent five years working for Washington, DC-based public affairs consulting firm, APCO Worldwide. While in Shanghai he was also elected to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for two terms (2011-2015) and was the Ridley Shanghai Branch Vice-President.
As is the case for many savvy Ridleians, Radley was forced to pivot and adapt in the early years of his career, having left the corporate world in Shanghai planning to pursue an MBA to help him transition back into North America, but instead deciding to write a book about his experiences in China and start his own consulting company to help him build his footprint in the North America market.
Today, he continues to advise North American companies on how to succeed in China and is now concentrated on his recent start-up, SinoSports Development (瑞麒国际体育教育有限公司) – with teams based in Beijing and Toronto focused on youth sports development in China. SinoSports is quickly emerging as the leading camp, tournament, training and market entry support platform for athletic development institutions and foreign sports companies. Radley and SinosSports recently partnered with the Ridley hockey programme this past April, to provide the first-ever prep school hockey camp in China for 40 skaters in Beijing.
Every Ridley graduate will chart their own path, but some advice from Radley to fellow Ridleians who are about to explore professional careers include:
Don’t be complacent: “Follow your curiosity and always look for ways to improve. This may require further education and certification, volunteering with people different than you, or taking on a side-gig, but compounding curiosity will open you up to opportunities you may have never thought of.”
Don’t be a conformist: “Life can take us in so many directions and don’t be afraid to create your own opportunities in ways friends, family, or colleagues may have never thought of. I love my cottage and the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is a big world out there.”
Think big: “Make sure you have a future vision or goal in mind as you gain experience and develop your skills at all stages of your life – even if your goal at that moment is only to take time to figure out what you truly want to do with the next chapter of your life.”
Radley remains a proud Ridley alumnus (with his foursome winning the 2017 annual RCA Golf Tournament!) and is happy to share his experiences of living, working and studying in China with ORs both young and old.
TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.
Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to firstname.lastname@example.org.