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Charting new territories: Sebastian’s story

Employee Stories Sebastian Hia header

16 Jul 2019

Sebastian Hia, Head of Client Acquisition, Retail Banking, Singapore

My personal motto is to “never say die”.  When new challenges arise, I do my best to stay calm, understand the new situation, and adapt as needed. That’s why I’m always ready to take on uncharted territories when it comes to my career progression. 

Having a network of supportive people helps a great deal! The opportunities my managers have given me over the years and my family’s blessing to pursue my career ambition have driven me to want to perform even better to reciprocate their trust and encouragement. 

During my time in Standard Chartered I’ve worked in China, Malaysia and Singapore. In 2012, The bank was looking for a Sales Head to manage the different banking products and segments across 11 cities in China. It also happened that at that time I was looking for opportunities to expand my role, as well as gain overseas exposure. I put my hands up for the job. The challenges? Besides facing a steep learning curve, I had to adjust and adapt to living in a foreign environment, a different work culture, and being away from my family; I have four boys, the youngest then was only nine months old. But with the support of my team and family, I could focus on learning and giving my best.

“I faced a steep learning curve, adjusting to living in a foreign country and being away from my family but with their support, I could focus on learning and giving my best.”




After almost two years in China, I was offered another relocation opportunity, this time to Malaysia as the Head of Sales Performance & Service Governance to oversee the transformation of service processes in the Bank’s branches. This role is very different from what I’m used to as it’s about managing the frontline from a backend perspective –  I had to understand how a branch works, from operating an ATM to ensuring that our frontline colleagues were trained to deliver good client service. I saw Malaysia as a golden opportunity to enhance my knowledge in banking, and a ticket to travel back to Singapore every weekend to be with the family.

For anyone considering taking on a role abroad, don’t make it about the “glamour” of working overseas. Rather, what’s important is to think about the concrete objectives of why you want to be there – know what the role is about and how it can value-add to your career.


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