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Paul Harding

Paul spent 13 years in Beijing, China, where he co-founded Zihua Creative - an online learning platform and database that grew to become China’s largest platform for creative tech skills training. At Zihua, Paul led the content and production teams. 

He also previously worked as Executive Producer for the US State Department-China Govt. supported Booey Lehoo concert. His writing has been published in The Diplomat & Newsweek (Jpn), and he served as a researcher for a leading US geopolitical analysis firm, also consulting for several Chinese state-owned enterprises and banks. Paul taught for several UK Universities on their pre-Master’s Programmes in Beijing. 

What are you working on now?

I am currently working with video editors to produce and release the content we recorded at the Cambridge Global Conversations (CGC) Climate Ethics event in July at the Intellectual Forum. The idea is to have a pipeline with shorter snappier videos to hook people, and then longer, more in-depth ones for those who are interested. I am also working on researching the programmatic direction and potential participant list for the second CGC event - set to be on Artificial Intelligence Ethics, or Impacts and Risks - to be held sometime next year (2020). 

How has your career to date led to this?

My career has been quite erratic, and my CV looks like someone's who has a personality disorder. I was in China for 13 - 14 years working for financial institutions, teaching finance for several UK university programmes, co-founded a tech company and operated it for 3 years, took on the role of executive producer for an international charity concert featuring and John Legend, worked for a US private intelligence/analysis firm, wrote frequently for The Diplomat (under a pseudonym) and a couple of times for Newsweek. CGC is an international project focused on varied global issues, so I suppose my international background, varied roles in the past, and a graduate diploma in International Relations all feed into the position. It has also been important to be able to engage with people in very different fields without sounding completely unknowledgeable, so my 'multi-disciplinary' background perhaps helped prepare for that. My roles running a medium-sized department at my company in Beijing and in production for the large charity concert certainly helped prepare me for the multi-tasking necessary for doing events like CGC. 

What one thing would you most want someone to learn from what you’ve done or are doing now?

Well, I have spent a long time this year focusing on climate, so rather depressingly: the world is not doing enough. The science is painting a worse and worse picture, and our political/societal responses are failing internationally and domestically in almost every country. 

What do you think of Jesus College and the Intellectual Forum?

 I really like being in the college environment and especially like our home in the Intellectual Forum. In the summer months, I took full advantage of the college grounds to walk while taking phone calls. In the winter, I have mostly limited myself to West Court, the Roost Cafe, and the office. The atmosphere in the office is friendly, there are lots of snacks (healthy and other) and I am sometimes labelled a "feeder" for offering them around too frequently. Conversations break out on various different topics - often driven by Julian and Sarah - and it is interesting to find out what everyone else is doing.  Oh, and everyone is willing to help everyone else, which was good for me in the run-up to the CGC event in July. 




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