Taking the path less travelled: Mimi’s story

This International Women’s Day, we're celebrating our colleagues whose journeys #breakthebias.

Mimi Kuo joined the Bank as part of its International Graduate (IG) Programme and has never looked back. In the past 7 years, she got to experience working in different cities including Tokyo, Dublin and Hong Kong. As a newly promoted director in Aviation Finance, she shares how her career has taken off at the Bank.

Learning beyond borders

My very first job was with the Bank, having joined the IG programme in Tokyo in 2015. During one of my rotations in the Hong Kong office, I got the chance to meet the Aviation Finance team and was intrigued by the work that they did. When I found out that there was an opening for a role in Dublin, the headquarters of the Aviation Finance business, I applied for it without hesitation even though I knew very little about the city.

It was in Dublin where I learned the ins and outs of the aviation business and developed my network both in the Bank and the industry. Our global head Kieran Corr was the one who suggested that I go to Dublin to learn about the business and see for myself how strategic decisions are made. I also got the opportunity to participate in some of the projects, working directly with the senior management.

After my stint in Dublin, I decided to move to Hong Kong in 2018 to develop my career in the aviation sector.

Many people don’t know that the Bank has an Aviation Finance business, which is something that we want to change. Essentially, the Bank owns over 100 commercial aircraft that we lease to some of the biggest airlines in the world. This differentiates us from other product teams as we actually own and manage the aircraft on lease to our airline clients globally. It is also a higher-margin and capital-efficient business compared to other product areas.

When I was in Dublin, I got the chance to see the aircraft in the hanger and even accompany our technical team to take new deliveries. It was such an enriching experience as I would not have been able to have this depth of knowledge without being on the ground. The leaders cared about my career growth and tried to maximise my experience in Dublin by involving me in different strategic projects with an array of international clients. I felt that my career really took off then.

That being said, while I love travelling and my job, it was not always easy being apart from family and loved ones. I’m grateful for the support I received from my bosses who gave me some degree of flexibility in my work arrangements when I needed it as they recognised that both work and family are just as important.

Having the opportunity to travel for work is something that really added value to my life and helped me grow both in my career and as a person. I’m a believer that even though it may be a less well-travelled path, it can be a rewarding one.

Looking on the bright side of life

One quality of my leaders that has left an indelible impression on me is their positivity.

When we lose a transaction or face difficulties, it’s easy to feel down. Instead of complaining and spreading negativity, I noticed that the seniors are always encouraging, being our cheerleaders and making sure we know that they have our backs. It’s really inspiring, and I hope that I can influence others around me so positively as well.

I’m a rather optimistic person by nature and one philosophy I have in life when I encounter difficulty is to learn to change the situation, not the person. I’ve realised that sometimes, the problem is not the person, but the way the situation is handled.

In my line of work, I deal with many different stakeholders and there were instances when certain individuals seem to be hindering my ability to get something accomplished. I’ve learnt that it’s not helpful to pin the blame on people. Instead, I take a step back and look at the situation to see if it’s being handled in a way that keeps everyone’s interests in mind, and then act in a way that can be a win-win scenario for the various parties.