Stephanie Cai – Having the courage to move forward

Internal mobility is something that is encouraged here at the Bank and Stephanie is seizing the growth opportunities available


What makes Standard Chartered stand out as an employer is the way the Bank actively enables its people to be bold and take on new challenges.

In my past six years here, I’ve taken on four different roles spanning priority segment, affluent sales, personal lending and digital banking. I’m grateful for my line managers who have supported and even encouraged my moves as they viewed them as growth opportunities for me to learn and stretch myself.

Today, I’m the Head of Personal Lending for Standard Chartered China, based in Shanghai. I started my career as a management trainee at another international bank in China. I took multiple rotations including wealth product development, international banking, business planning, sales management, and retail analytics before I made the move here.

One of my more memorable roles that left an impression on me was when I transferred from being the Priority Banking head in Shanghai to take on a role as Affluent South Regional Head in 2018. It was the biggest challenge I faced in my career for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it was a change in job scope as I was moving from the headquarters to a frontline sales role.  Secondly, it was also in a different city. Finally, I also had to win the trust of the management team, my counterparts and direct reports in a short span of time to deliver results. In the end, I managed to form and execute a structured plan with the support of the relevant parties, achieving 70 per cent year-on-year growth for two consecutive years. It was very encouraging and showed what the teams can achieve when we work together.

Here in Standard Chartered, what I really appreciate is how there are so many possibilities available for employees. For example, when I took on my current role as Head of Personal Lending in 2020, it was actually new to me as it was the first time I’ve looked after the lending business. In a span of less than two years, the team managed to hit quite a number of significant milestones, including a record-high for digital partnership acquisition and 80 per cent year-on-year growth for offline sales productivity. I am thankful for the tremendous support given by the group team, country management and our product and sales teams.

One piece of advice that has stayed with me in my career is to think from your line manager’s perspective, but feel with your team’s heart. It was taught to me by one of my mentors when I was starting out. This advice is about having balance. It means that while we need to be more strategic and take a broader view to better drive the business, we also still need to care about our people. After all, our business is a people business.

As Shanghai is still in the midst of the pandemic, it becomes even more critical for me to care for my team’s well-being. I had around 400 members in my team during the thick of Covid-19, and one thing that kept us going was the trust between us. I also made the effort to know my team members’ families and their situation so that I can better support them during these difficult times.

Going forward, I would like to further push the lending business to become “digital first”. I have many aspirations for my career and I believe that if I’m courageous to try new things, I will be able to chart my future here with the Bank.