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I’John Gatewood: Go and Make the Impact Yourself

Time:2019-11-01 11:21:38  Hits:[]
By Annie Jin 
Edited by Priscilla Young


“I’d be honored,” I’John Gatewood wrote in a quick response to the interview invitation for the 15th anniversary of his alma mater far across the Pacific Ocean. As one of the first two international students admitted to Peking University HSBC business School (PHBS) in 2009, Gatewood seemed thrilled to recount his “good old days” and share his recent life in an online interview.
 

I’John Gatewood provides remarks as the 2008 Broad Prize scholar speaker where he thanked The Eli Broad Foundation for its Broad Prize scholarship, which allowed him to pursue his dream and complete his education at Clemson University.
 
Gatewood graduated from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree in economics and was interested in pursuing further education. “My curiosity led me to China,” he said. He recounted a childhood memory of often looking up into the sky wondering how the world works in other places. 
 
When Gatewood realized that as China was becoming a major global economic player, he could not pass up the opportunity to “study the culture and economy first hand.” It was from a Ph.D. student at Clemson that Gatewood first learned about the economics program at PHBS, Peking University’s young business school in South China’s Shenzhen. 
 
It quickly became his top option, but coming to a place so different did require a big of “a leap of faith.” Gatewood admitted he never had doubts but only a simple thought before coming here, “If I didn’t like it or it was too difficult, I could simply go home.” Things turned out smoother than he thought. “Everyone made me feel welcomed to not only the campus but the country,” he said.
 

I’John Gatewood with students from PKU Middle School, during his trip to Beijing to compete for PHBS in the 4X100 relay of PKU Sports Festival, where his team finished in first place. “Beijing is an amazing city and being able to work as a team was a great experience,” he said.
 
Of course, Gatewood expected to see many cultural differences. Among those he first noticed were how diligent his Chinese classmates could be in study and especially how early most people got up for breakfast. Different from those living in Western culture, Gatewood learned that people in Southern China enjoy yum cha, the Cantonese tradition of brunch featuring tea and dim sum.
 
Gatewood said one of the most valuable lessons he learned at PHBS was “how to learn as you go.” At the time of his admission, the school only had about 20 faculty members and 400 students. “There were things still needing to work out,” Gatewood recalled, “but with all of the challenges came opportunities to create and discover your own path.” However in 2019 PHBS has grown into an international community with 80 full-time faculty and nearly 2000 students, including those from countries across the world.
 
Since earning his master’s degree in economics, Gatewood has been working at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage for more than eight years. “My daily job requires that I make decisions that have large reputational and financial risk. Knowing how to work and make decisions without a road map is something I learned at PHBS and is something that allowed me to excel in my current role.”
 

I’John Gatewood with his wife and two kids
 
Now, living back home in Charlotte North Carolina, he serves as assistant vice president in the firm’s default servicing division and periodically teaches economics as adjunct faculty at Johnson & Wales University, renowned for its culinary arts and business program. Despite his busy schedule, Gatewood visits the PHBS website from time to time, staying updated on the school’s new undertakings. “It’s impressive to see the growth, many new students and, most notably, the new building by the library.” The school’s “new” building opened in 2013.
 
Gatewood chose the word “excellence” to describe the school, as it refers to the philosophy of setting a high standard and continuing to work hard to achieve it. “This is my personal goal and a goal of the school,” he said, adding that he hopes PHBS can continue to “grow as a leader in academia and a developer of people.”
 
“The people at PHBS are what make us strong and will allow us to be successful in the future,” Gatewood noted. As an alumnus with rich working experience, he advises students to embark on their careers with confidence and desire to make a difference in the world. “Don't wait for others to show you how to make a positive impact. Go and make the impact yourself.”
 
What’s next on his “to do” list? “My plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in business administration with a focus in finance,” Gatewood said, adding that entwined with the variety of choices, over the past eight years he has considered moving back to China and perhaps will do so at some point in the future. “I look forward to visiting PHBS with my family and would like to stay connected to the alumni.”
 
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