Embracing a new adventure in Africa: Ray’s story

Mutual respect and collaboration has helped Ray in his transition to life in South Africa


My life in South Africa is very different from the one I left behind in Beijing, but I feel like I’m making a new home for myself in Johannesburg. I moved here in October 2018 and the vibrancy and diversity of the office and the city is enthralling.

I didn’t plan to have a career in financial services. I studied hotel management at higher vocational school and, after graduation, I was working in property management when an acquaintance suggested I apply for an opening at Standard Chartered. Working for a multinational company in Beijing back in 1999 was very appealing, so when I joined the bank to be part of a merchant acquisition team, it seemed a great opportunity. I progressed through the organisation with the support of my managers and increased my knowledge of corporate banking along the way.

In 2013, I took on a role in Corporate & Institutional Banking in Zambia. It was my first international posting and a massive culture change that I had to adjust to. I completely fall in love with the African continent and have taken several roles during the past six years in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. After a few years, I decided it was time to bring my 10-year-old husky, Bank, to live with me. Now he is a proud African dog. Along the way, I’ve also adopted a cat, Mimi – or rather he adopted me. They both now live with me in Johannesburg.

My advice for anyone interested in moving from working in China to anywhere around the world would be to go for it, but go fully prepared for the unexpected. You must be willing to respect the culture of those around you and be open to lots of new experiences. I am immensely satisfied that I can help my clients back in China as they grow their business interests in Africa. I am here to help them navigate their way through local customs and processes, and give them the best advice that I can. I think they really benefit from my experience and I enjoy working with my colleagues to help advise them on the best way to help our clients too.

I returned home in February for a visit to my parents and to enjoy Spring Festival in Beijing. It was great to visit, but I was also pleased to return to South Africa. It feels like home now.

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