Huiping Chen: Opportunity is Important for Career Growth

Huiping Chen is a Professor of International Law at the Xiamen University School of Law in China. She also leads the GWP China Fujian Provincial Partnership. She says that opportunity has played a key role in her successful career. In celebration of International Women's Day (IWD2020) she shares her story:

I studied International Economic Law (IEL) as an undergraduate in the 1980's when China was just opening up to the world and was in urgent need of IEL experts. I started teaching at the Xiamen Law School in 1993 focusing on international law and international investment law. But International Water Law (IWL) was not my research field at that time. It was Prof. Patricia Wouters, a renowned IWL expert, who brought me into the field of IWL. 

Since 2010, I have been conducting research projects and writing academic articles in the field of IWL, and participating in various IWL conferences and training programmes. I am also involved in the programmes of GWP China

In my opinion, opportunity is very important for a person to grow up in his/her career. For me, three factors have been key to getting the opportunity: 

  • Guidance and help from senior IWL experts. As I mentioned, Prof. Wouters guided me into the field of IWL. She is a very intelligent, inspiring and encouraging female. I am very grateful to her. 
  • China is developing very fast and in need of IWL experts. Since many years, transboundary waters in China is a sensitive issue and there are not many experts. But in the past ten years, China has drawn world attention and plays an important role in the transboundary water sector. Because of this, I was invited to do research on a project of the United Nations Watercourse Convention (UNWC) and China, and projects about water allocation and the environmental flow in China's transboundary water treaty and practice. 
  • GWP and GWP China have also given me a lot of opportunities to be involved in IWL programmes and issues.  

During my research and teaching career, I have invited master and PhD students to participate in my IWL research projects. I also supervise PhD students in IWL. Most of my students do good jobs in IWL. However, I found that female students are given less opportunities in their job hunting and career development. I think the major obstacle is because they are females. I hope they can be as lucky as I in the field of IWL. My suggestion is to guide females in the field of IWL, and give them jobs in this field. When they are already in the field, give them more work or projects to do. They could make it. 

Photo: Huiping Chen