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Our Team of Dedicated Experts

Next Step Connections is led by a purpose-driven team of dedicated professionals from France, United States, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. We all united by shared values and a strong passion to innovate and  advance the experiential learning or ‘beyond classroom’ education sector. Since 2008, we have engaged, equipped and empowered students to reach their full potential through transformational experiences.


Jerome Le Carrou

Founder and Executive Director

Jerome founded Next Step Connections in 2008 at the age of 25 after a transformative experience as an intern in Shanghai. He has been running the organisation in Asia since then. Jerome is  a passionate global education and tech entrepreneur, traveler, public speaker, yoga practitioner. He has spoken at various international education conferences including NAFSA, APAIE, GIC. A native of France, Jerome received a B.A from the Universite of Rennes with a combined major in English Literature, Communications and Chinese. Jerome studied abroad at Utah State University as part of ISEP program. He is fluent in French, English, and Mandarin.

Jerome was featured in Harvard Graduate Monika Lutz’s book ‘Now What’ and led Next Step Connections to being nominated top five most innovative organisation in 2017 by in Los Angeles.

“My first real experience abroad was a two-week trip to the Silicon Valley at 11 years old. it was also my first time sitting on a plane.”


Francois Liot

Founding Partner

A Native of Paris, France, Francois holds a Master’s degree in biomedical science in pharmacology from ESCP-EAP European School of Management. Francois worked at Merck Serono France as a Junior Product Manager from March 2004 to May 2005. He then went on to join Shanghai Ethypharm in July 2005 as the Asia/Pacific Business Development Manager. He joined NSC as a founding partner at the end of 2007. Francois is the General Manager of Shanghai Ethypharm since 2016.

“My best experience abroad was following Christopher Columbus’s footsteps in Madeira’s Portuguese archipelago.”


Leonard Hayashi

Founding Partner

Born in Los Angeles, of Japanese and Chinese descent, Len graduated from the University of California, San Diego. Len has lived in Shanghai since 1997 and joined NSC in April 2008 as a founding partner. Len brings a wealth of experience to the fast-growing organization. He is fluent in Mandarin, Japanese, and English. Len is based in California since 2014.

“I’ve had so many amazing experiences traveling abroad, but funny enough, I really think the most important was what I learned about myself while trying to discover what the rest of the world was all about.”


William Toh

Independent Non-Executive Director and Business Advisory

William Toh has an extensive working experience with more than 25 years of working experience with leading corporations and family-owned businesses. He also serves as a Business Advisory-Independent Director for certain family-owned, small and medium businesses at the Board level management as well as the top executive management. He is also very passionate in developing young people by imparting enriched work experiences by inspiring and coaching them to be future entrepreneurs in their own field of interests and also be in a better position to manage their future career destiny! Since the late 1980s’ till the recent present, William led and hosted more than 100 in-company project-based business internship programs of various interns from various different foreign, local universities and tertiary institutions. He participated in social development activities in the past, including SIFE (Student In Free Enterprise), in-company college relations and Habitat for Humanity. William holds an MBA (California State University-Sacramento, US); a MSc. in Social Science (University of Leicester, UK) and a Bachelor of Business Administration (LaTrobe University, Australia).


Jasmine Ching

Commercial Director

A globetrotter, Jasmine is NSC’s commercial director. Luckily, she grew up in a family full of travel enthusiasts, allowing her to be exposed to many places and experiences at an early age. Her travels have impacted and shaped who she is today. Jasmine believes that when you expose yourself to new people, cultures, and lifestyles, you will become open to new insights, ways to see the world and living, which ultimately gives you a new purpose in life! She studied Economics at the University of San Francisco and returned back to Hong Kong after her graduation. She went on to gain a Masters in China Development Studies at Hong Kong University and a Juris Doctorate at Chinese University of Hong Kong. Jasmine has always been a people person and loves a good laugh.


Roderick Goh

Group CFO and Managing Partner China

Roderick is a Singapore national who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore. Prior to joining NSC in 2015, Roderick worked in a number of countries in a diverse range of roles. His past work experience includes stints as a Business Development Manager at Sweden’s second largest personal care retailer, an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at a boutique Investment Bank in New York and a Marketing Coordinator at a Pharmaceutical company in Vietnam. Roderick also co-founded a social venture based in Hangzhou for the benefit of needy children in China.

“My most rewarding experience was my search for the most suitable country in Emerging Asia to be based in. Unexpectedly, what started off as a search for the most suitable country turned out to be a rich journey of personal growth and discovery.”

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Jacky Mo

Associate Director – Hong Kong

Jacky was born and raised in Hong Kong. He started going to school in the United States since he was 12 years old. Jacky graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He joined NSC as a Program Coordinator in Hong Kong on February 2015. He is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. He can also speak basic Spanish. Jacky likes to exercise and loves to play soccer. His favorite team is Real Madrid. He also likes to play Ultimate Frisbee in Hong Kong.

“My most memorable experience abroad is visiting the Grand Canyon when it was snowing and hailing…it was also Spring Break!”


Ken Ikeo

Head of Program – Japan

Ken Ikeo is an ambitious entrepreneur investing in human capital through partnership with industry leaders and educational institutions. His current initiatives are 1) to promote strategic collaboration between the industry and universities to incubate innovative services and products, 2) to launch higher degree program dedicated to particular subject (e.g. Hospitality MBA for Kyoto University / Global Executive Program for New York University ).
He has started his career in the hotel operations. After receiving a Master’s degree in hospitality finance from New York University, he took a lead to build a hospitality investment platform at Goldman Sachs and Fortress Investment Group.
” My first trip abroad was in Germany when I was 3 months old. That was the moment everything changed for me “

Florensia Wiyono Daryanto

Associate Director – Indonesia

Florensia joined NSC in 2012 as Shanghai Program advisor and Assistant Program Manager at NSC. She is now directing our Indonesia Office. Prior to NSC, she has worked in education, consulting, retail, and marketing. She graduated as an International Business Management major, and has spent many years in Indonesia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and China. She is fluent in Indonesian, English, and Chinese. Outside of work, Florensia enjoys traveling, playing badminton, and living in a multicultural environment.

“Seawalker – helmet diving at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was one of my best experiences abroad!”


Maggie Guo

Program Consultant – China

Maggie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Language from ECNU (East China Normal University. Maggie joined NSC as a program consultant in fall 2015. She can speak fluent Mandarin, English, Japanese. Maggie is passionate about traveling and experience different culture all around the world.


Maxime Schmitt

Director – Next Step Systems (Tech, Blockchain & Innovation)

Maxime Schmitt is French. He started as an software development intern in NSC office in Shanghai in 2010. He was hired as a full-time NSC tech manager until 2013, before returning to France to work for BNP Paribas as a production and support engineer for an online cash management application. Max is now the head of Next Step Systems, the Tech Innovation arm of Next Step Connections.

Max loved Singing and doing theatrical play. He graduated from France’s top engineering school – EPITA/EPITECH.


Jason Grant

Program Manager – Thailand

Jason is a fresh graduate from UTCC in Bangkok. He is an alumni of NSC program, having participated in the Shanghai Internship Program in 2014.

Born and raised in England, he moved to Thailand to start University. He is currently majoring in business and management and interested in tech and social ventures.

Josh Team

Joshua Yang

Program Manager – Singapore

Born and raised in Singapore, Josh studied abroad at the University of Buffalo, NY. He manages all our programs in Singapore and is a great local resource for students looking to discover the best places to eat and hang out in the lion city.


Francoise-Helen Le Faou

Admissions Advisor

Francoise-Helen Le Faou is French. She graduated from West Catholic University in Angers, France. She worked in education for 30 years as a middle-school Head Mistress and has joined NSC as an admissions advisor in 2016. She is fluent in English and French, and has started learning Mandarin. Francoise has several passions such as travelling and discovering different cultures all around the world and introducing Laughter Yoga and Circus workshops in French schools.


Jira Supap

Student Success Coordinator

Jira is Thai. She graduated from Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, Thailand. She worked for Emirates as a customer service coordinator for 2 years before joining NSC as a student success coordinator. She is fluent in English and Thai. Jira has several passions such as cooking Thai Food, learning new things and discovering different cultures all around the world.

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