Studying two years at Chalmers helped Li Yunfeng to build a solid academic background, expand his mind, become more confident – and to get a job as sustainability manager.
Li Yunfeng describes his two years studying at Chalmers University of Technology as a wonderful life journey. While there, he received the world’s most advanced environmental education in a friendly, leisurely and open atmosphere. He made friends with students from different cultural and social backgrounds, all of whom were passionate, creative and loved to share. He spent his vacations partying, playing sports and fishing.
This young 30-year-old man says that, without his days at Chalmers, he would have had only a slim chance of joining SKF, the leading global supplier of products, solutions and services within rolling bearings, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems. Li now has a management position in sustainability in the Swedish company. Leading in environmental education
Having majored in environmental planning/engineering at the University of Science and Technology of Suzhou, Li considered continuing his education overseas and asked for suggestions from a former university classmate who had gone to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) for further studies. Chalmers was one of the universities Li’s friend recommended.
In 2004, Li applied for three universities: Chalmers in Sweden, DTU in Denmark and Loughborough University in the UK. He was fortunate enough to receive offers from Chalmers and Loughborough.
“In the end, I picked Chalmers because it has a leading position in the field of environmental education,” Li says. “I expected that, at Chalmers, I could gain advanced knowledge and learn more about the latest concepts in this area.”
In fact, life at Chalmers proved that Li had made a wise choice. “Actually, the university exactly met my expectation,” he notes.Open atmosphere
Unlike Chinese universities, the Chalmers campus literally has no walls. “Therefore it helps draw its spirit from a global city with an entrepreneurial bent, a diversity of human life, and resources that include some of the world’s most famous cultural institutions and most valued professional opportunities,” Li said.
Students are encouraged to take classes of other majors, such as architecture or civil engineering, and to participate in workshops and on projects with their students, as efforts to diversify their knowledge structure.
Li took an international master’s programme in which he majored in industrial ecology. The students in his class were from many countries, but he was the only one from China.
He liked the open atmosphere of the class, noting that, “In China, professors always feed students with knowledge through hour-long lectures but, at Chalmers, we were encouraged to discuss any academic topic that jumped into our minds.”
In the beginning Li was a little shy. He was particularly concerned about his English, fearing that his classmates might not understand him and that his ideas might sound strange to them.
He soon discovered that his worries were unfounded.
“The students treated each other equally and welcomed all ‘strange’ ideas,” Li said. “Through group discussion, we always worked out a more practical and efficient solution to a problem.”
Influenced by the open and friendly atmosphere of Chalmers, Li gradually became active in the class and his confidence grew in leaps and bounds.
The university often invited representatives from local governments, corporations and social organisations to share their achievements and strategies on campus. Meanwhile, professors shared with their students their experience as researchers and active professionals. In addition to teaching, they also frequently served as advisers to governments and consultants to corporations.
Through these types of exchanges, students developed a clear picture about how the knowledge they learned on campus could be used in practice, which to some extent stimulated their interest in studying and helped to determine their future development direction early.Job offer from SKF
It was at a seminar given by a sustainability expert from SKF that Li first learned about this Swedish company. He was impressed by its rich history, unique culture and long-term commitment to sustainability.
In 2005, Li started working on his master’s thesis with SKF, conducting a life cycle assessment of one product. He spent eight months on the project, joining the company after his graduation from Chalmers in 2006. He acknowledges that the experience with the company while still at Chalmers offered Li advantages when he applied for the job with SKF.
After working at SKF Sweden for two years, Li returned to China in 2008, taking a position at the Swedish company’s China headquarter as sustainability manager.
Li says that he feels gratitude for Chalmers, all the professors and the students he met there because they helped him build a solid academic background, expand his mind and become more confident.
“In the future, sustainability will become one of the corporate world’s core competitive advantages and play a significant role in the development of an organisation,” he adds. “I am confident that the advanced knowledge and concepts I learned at Chalmers will guarantee me a bright future.”