Sophia Liu – Returning to Standard Chartered to represent female leaders in banking

As an alumnus of our International Graduate Scheme, Sophia Liu returns to her roots at Standard Chartered and inspires the next generation of women in banking.


After spending three years away from Standard Chartered, Sophia Liu noted a shift in the diversity of the Bank’s workforce after returning. Leveraging her growing network and knowledge of international trade, Sophia delivers impact as the Director of Standard Chartered’s China Desk in London.

What is your current role at Standard Chartered?

I returned to Standard Chartered in 2019 as the Director of the China Desk in London. We work hard to embody Standard Chartered’s values of being a force for good, being better together, and never settling in everything we do. We are dedicated to helping our clients prosper in their endeavours.

You were in the international graduate scheme, how did it help to kickstart your career?

In 2011 I was chosen to be a part of Standard Chartered’s International Graduate Scheme. I transitioned into my role soon after graduating from university where I was studying banking and finance. The two years I spent as an international graduate were incredibly insightful and I received a great deal of support from my managers and mentors. I was given the opportunity to rotate around various departments, such as oil and gas client coverage, clean technology, and market risk management. Once I had completed the international graduate scheme I was offered an associate position within the metals and mining department at Standard Chartered. During the two years I spent in this role I gained invaluable experience in the banking industry, I hit the ground running and worked with product managers to attend client meetings and design pitches.

Standard Chartered’s International Graduate Scheme launched my career and provided me with a reliable foundation to progress through the industry, before returning to Standard Chartered in 2019.

Why did you choose to return to Standard Chartered?

An ex-colleague of mine from Standard Chartered mentioned a job opening at the Bank and after some research, I thought I would be a great fit. Standard Chartered has an extensive global footprint and considerable coverage of Chinese markets. The Bank is committed to Belt and Road initiatives which aligned perfectly with the experience I had gained since leaving Standard Chartered in 2016. I have developed a substantial network of professionals working in the Chinese market and I identified how I could leverage this as the Director of the China Desk.

When I left the Bank in 2016 there were very few female leaders in corporate and commercial banking. It is important to me to show other people who are thinking of going into banking that it is definitely possible. Standard Chartered is committed to diversity in its workforce and I wanted to be a part of an organisation that champions equal opportunities.

Since you have returned to the Bank, have there been any changes?

Despite only taking a three-year hiatus from Standard Chartered, a lot had changed in the time I had been gone. The Bank has made considerable technological improvements in recent years; its launch of SC Ventures is a trailblazing initiative that is a catalyst for investment in disruptive financial technology. Since returning to the Bank, Standard Chartered has fully committed to its expansion into the Chinese markets - in 2021 we supported over 120 Belt and Road projects. There has also been a notable change in the diversity of the Bank’s leadership, and I have noticed a considerable difference in the number of my female and minority ethnic colleagues receiving promotions.

Interested in joining us?

If you're looking for a career with purpose and want to work for a bank making a difference, we'd love to hear from you.