Supeng Wang, International Law and Policy Associate 


Why did you apply for this traineeship?

I have always been interested in the connection between business and human rights. I felt a year working for the ICRC's economic adviser would be a perfect place for me to learn and grow, contributing to the humanitarian cause with my business knowledge.

How did you feel about being selected?

I felt very, very happy – excited and honoured to be able to work for such a reputable humanitarian organization, one that directly helps the most vulnerable people in the world. I thought it would be the most purposeful experience of my life so far – and it really has been!

How did you hear about the traineeship?

The ICRC has a partnership with the University of Hong Kong Business School, where I studied. For each of the past four years, the school has sponsored a student to work for the economic adviser at the ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva. It has been my pleasure to represent the university this year.

Was it hard to make the move?

The school and the ICRC are two very different environments, but I realized early that pursuing a business major does not necessarily mean you have to work for a bank or consultancy firm. The transition was not difficult at all and my academic and professional training enabled me to adapt quickly to the pace of work here. I always felt very well equipped in both knowledge and skills to do my job.

What does your traineeship entail?

I have a wide range of responsibilities including research, project management and stakeholder engagement. Specifically, my work focuses on Chinese businesses and making them more aware of humanitarian and human rights concerns. In my year here, I have been closely involved in promoting and facilitating responsible business practices among Chinese companies, industrial associations and academic institutions. It’s been challenging, but my line manager and teammates have been very supportive and helped me to learn quickly.

What have you learned in your time here?

I learned more about, sometimes even took part in, the latest developments in the fields of business and human rights and responsible business practices – this will be very helpful in my future career. At the same time, my supervisor and colleagues are all very experienced in their fields, and I learned a lot from them about how to deal with challenges in my work.

What was it like working for the ICRC in the middle of a global pandemic?

The pandemic definitely posed a big challenge. At the beginning I found it hard to adjust to working here because my colleagues and I did not share an office where we could interact face-to-face and get to know each other in person. Also, all the meetings were moved online, which made it harder for me to build trust with external contacts. However, I think the ICRC’s work has become even more important in these times. We saw that the regions we were most concerned about were those that were also hardest hit by the pandemic.

After this year-long traineeship, what’s next for you?

My traineeship finishes in June and I will start a degree in economic and social history in Oxford in autumn. My postgraduate research will focus on how business and economic activities in history could inform today’s policymaking. My time here has definitely given me career options; I’ll continue to follow issues to do with business and human rights and responsible business practices. And I hope I can keep contributing to the meaningful exchanges between Hong Kong and Geneva in the future.