Consultant Spotlight: Sherry Xu
Hughes-Castell is heavily focused on international legal recruitment and has a diverse cultural mix, possessing strong roots in China. Sherry is a Director at Hughes-Castell, based in our Shanghai office, and has eight years’ legal compliance recruitment experience partnering with in-house departments at Fortune 500, major Chinese multinational corporations, and top-tier international law firms across Greater China and the Asia Pacific region. A law graduate, Sherry obtained a first-class LLB degree from a top-tier PRC university and then completed her LLM degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
What is your favourite part about working for Hughes-Castell?
I have a strong connection with Hughes-Castell, even from before I joined. In my first year of work, I was interviewed by Hughes-Castell and got an offer from Doreen. Although I didn’t join at that time, the name “Hughes-Castell” always swung through my mind because at that time I was trained by two Hughes-Castell alumni, Elaine and Eric at another recruitment firm. They both helped me a lot and they were my initial mentors.
Before joining Hughes-Castell, I was the one building something from scratch with other firms. I was the only one responsible for each desk. In that setting, when I have a lot of mandates on the go, I always contradictorily felt happy and worried – happy about prosperous business and grateful for my clients’ trust but on the other hand concerned about my delivery because I was short-staffed.
At Hughes-Castell, the environment is different. Whenever I need a hand, I can reach out. We work together as a team from the beginning till the closing of a placement. Regardless of seniority, we are here to work together. We are diligent enough to work on colleagues’ mandates as hard as our own. Even like recently, when my colleague Paul was already serving his notice, he worked so hard on the mandates I passed to him and lined up three strong candidates for me in his final week, I was very much impressed!
Last but not least, having a chance to work with Doreen, a legend in legal recruitment, is a privilege. Doreen has an excellent reputation among clients and lawyers. It seems everyone in the legal industry would have known her at some point. Previously when I got meetings with senior lawyers, all that I had prepared was, “what can I do for you?” After I joined Hughes-Castell, I realised this is not sufficient. Most senior lawyers I met told me what Doreen had done for them and expect the same service quality level from me. I got endorsements from Doreen’s name under the Hughes-Castell umbrella even though we work out of different offices. Doreen is an encyclopedia of the industry that I can learn from.
How do you prefer to start your day?
When I was in Hong Kong, I love to start the day with a “bus tour.” Taking a bus sitting on the upper deck, a little sightseeing on the way to the office gives me a happy start to a day.
During workdays, I prefer to start my day off in an organized way. I send my to-do list to my email box at the end of the previous day, so when I come back to the office in the morning, I’ve got my to-do list and priorities ready on the desk.
Keeping a productive routine becomes vital, especially when I am now working with quite a few junior consultants, as they need my feedback and instructions on how to approach their day as well so I have to put them on my priority list too. I share with them my client’s feedback and new search directions, and help them when they have difficult cases or emergencies, making sure they are clear about what to do next.
After a busy day, in Hong Kong I would take a “bus tour” back home, different from the morning view, as there was no blue sky or cloud in the evening but there are amazing lights like stars across the Victoria Harbour. I miss that. Here I take a bike back home, riding through all the streets in Shanghai with Platanus; it’s a different view, but still, quite recharging.
While I don’t have a morning routine for weekends, I usually sleep to noontime to recharge myself unless I have an appointment.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I miss the days in Hong Kong when I could go out for boat trips, hiking, waterfall jumping, canoeing, all kinds of outdoor activities. Every activity is convenient and accessible in Hong Kong, a blessed city. Now I am in Shanghai, there are fewer outdoor options to be honest. I still keep my hobby of seeing exhibitions, and I have more space and time for yoga training. And one more thing, I’m picking my piano back up! I could play pieces easily 20 years ago, but now it takes so much time. But still, I enjoy it!
I also like traveling as I love to learn people’s ideas of their religions, happiness, and world perspectives. I love meeting people to share their joy and listen to their stories.
Tell us your most memorable overseas trip?
I took a real old-fashioned train trip in north India and took a train from Beijing to Lake Baikal through Mongolia, which seems rare for ladies. Besides the spectacular views I experienced during the trips, I found it is interesting to realize that the world is small and connected.
For example the people we met in Lake Baikal are of the same race as the Buryats we met in Hulunbeir, Inner-Mongolia (China). They indeed share the same culture and dietary habits, even though they are far apart now geographically.
And some of the people we met in India are descendants of Genghis Khan’s as well, and these people also had a connection with the Persian people. And then the Indian culture is also connected with the historical site you can see in Angkor Wat (Cambodia). I like “Eurasian” connections, for example it’s surprising to discover the packaging paper for Ukiyoe paintings from Japan had such a big impact on impressionism painting in Europe, all the way across the continents. The more you travel, the more you feel that the world is one small globe. Despite the current international political rivalries and the economic interest alliances, it is connected historically.
The most memorable trip? – I traveled to Israel once on my own for the Christmas holiday. It was not planned, I went because the flight to Israel was the cheapest at that time. Before the trip, I spent quite a lot of time reading the Bible stories, the histories and stories of Jews and Christians, as well as Islam. So when I got there, I quite “felt” the atmosphere when I listened to the guides in those walking tours. One night I wandered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a little bit, and there was a guy who started talking to me, introducing interesting and detailed Christian stories to me. I was amazed and followed him for a few more visits. I was impressed by how much he knew and how he was able to talk about these religious stories without bias, rancor or judgement. It turns out that guy was quite influential, in fact he was someone who worked for somebody who reported to the Pope directly! That’s probably the most prestigious guy I’ve spoken to in my life, haha…