Staff Spotlight: Jonathan Fearon-Jones

Jon obtained his PhD in Political Philosophy following his joint Bachelor's degree in Law and Politics. He lived and worked in China in educational settings for many years before returning to the UK several years ago where he now enjoys living and working in Cambridge whilst retaining strong links with China. He has also been lucky to have had the opportunity to visit many other countries over the years, which he regards as an education in itself.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Many, but I suppose one very memorable one was being asked to name a restaurant in Guangzhou which, with the help of Chinese friends who could translate, became known as 'Dare to be happy'! I ate many tasty plates of prawns there, but doubt it still exists due to the rapid rate of change in China over the past 20 years especially!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My past jobs have been working for other companies / institutions, not as a Director of my own. This is a big difference because It makes you wholly responsible for the experiences your students have. This can feel daunting but is also very rewarding, because happily our students are consistently overwhelmingly happy with theirs. But that weight of responsibility, for both students and teaching and welfare staff, never lifts.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We do not have return students as such, due to the nature of our programme up to now. But many of our ex-students do keep in touch and those who are now studying all over the UK are happy to meet for lunch, dinner, or some other event if possible, as are we. Most recently we have met with one ex-student in Cambridge and another in Edinburgh.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

All! Up to now we have only offered the Pre University Summer Residential Programme (PUP), but we are developing other programmes currently. One of these is the Extended Project Programme (EPP) which is different from, but complements, our PUP. I believe these programmes are challenging and enriching.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are a small company and we like the fact that we get to know our students very well - like a family, one student has said. Our staff are carefully selected and all dedicated to ensuring our students' happiness and welfare. On our adventure activities weekend last summer I was impressed by how encouraging our welfare staff were (final year undergraduate students themselves) in encouraging our students to have a go at unfamiliar things.
It was a very positive and happy weekend!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Trust. I think trust is vital. Being able to trust your teachers, and vice versa. The same applies with our students, and with students being able to trust their teachers and the management of the company. Any educational programme involves being an integral part of a community, however short or long the time, and all in that community must feel able to trust each other in giving their best if it is to be a happy and rewarding experience for all.