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Ladies Of Energy 2023: Jennifer Ma Displays on The 12 months That Was

Ladies Of Energy 2023: Jennifer Ma Displays on The 12 months That Was

2023 was the year that Benenden School Guangzhou finally opened its doors. Here, executive supervisor Jennifer Ma shares her biggest achievements from the past 12 months and tells us what she’s looking forward to in 2024.

Although no one can predict how technologies such as Chat GPT will affect the world, Jennifer Ma strongly believes inquisitiveness will never be replaced by AI. As executive supervisor at the newly opened Benenden School Guangzhou, Ma explains why she’s determined to ensure her students are masters in the art of questioning.

How would you describe your 2023?

A year of the impossible made possible.

Ma speaking at the Benenden School Guangzhou open day

What were your biggest achievements in the past 12 months?

Opening our new school in Panyu, Guangzhou. It was an achievement on a personal level, as it extended the legacy of my alma mater, which celebrated its centenary this year.

It’s involved more than five years of planning and three years since exploring a synergistic partnership between Benenden School in the UK and CTF Education Group, two years of construction and one year of team building. So when we finally welcomed our first cohort of 168 families in September, it felt like a dream come true.

What was your secret of success in the past year?

Adaptability. Beyond taking on an evolving role as executive supervisor of Benenden School Guangzhou, it’s been a steep learning curve familiarising myself with the behind-the-scenes operations of a boarding school that spans a million-square-foot campus and a founding leadership team from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Ma at the GBA education event

Were there any challenges you had to overcome?

This year has felt like we were overcoming challenges on a daily basis, from navigating the macro environment, recruiting our first students within a tight admissions timeframe, and developing and delivering a fresh educational ethos, to recruiting and leading a team of talents from diverse backgrounds and experiences. However, the biggest challenge by far was a personal one: balancing family needs and work commitments. While many would advise that careers are a matter of priority, fate has it that such priorities often clash in time, making it impossible to not feel the “working-mum guilt” that I’m sure many working mothers can relate to.

The campus at Benenden School Guangzhou

What lessons did you learn this year?

The art and propensity to ask questions are the most valued skills in lifelong learning, which is especially the case in today’s ChatGPT world.

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Be it learning a new system, decoding people dynamics, or exploring new possibilities for business development, inspiration and knowledge often become apparent and coherent after a series of asking the right questions. Since I started my career in education 15 years ago, I’ve advocated for this skill to be a central objective of any quality schooling, critical in any context, in any position. Given the unimaginable impact of AI on education, it’s even more important that the learners of tomorrow become experts in observing, questioning and prompting.

What are you looking forward to next year?

2024 will be a year of exploration, execution and evaluation. I look forward to leading our growing team to go beyond our comfort zones and explore infinite possibilities on our world-class campus. I hope to fully execute and bring our vision for the school to life, while also evaluating the family-work balance in the process of this all.

(Top hero image: The Benenden School Guangzhou September open day)

Source: Prestige Online

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