Growing up, I have always yearned to push my limits and take big leaps out of my comfort zone. Learning a challenging foreign language was one of these first leaps, which brought me from my native Canada to Shanghai, China as a nineteen-year-old student on an exchange scholarship. It was in Shanghai and later in Taipei that I became fluent in Mandarin, and then ended up spending more than twenty years in China.
In 1999, I joined Standard Chartered in Shanghai as a credit analyst. Even early on in my career, I made it a priority to be an active explorer and be very open about taking on opportunities. That helped me to figure out where my innate talents were and helped me define what my ultimate path should be as I progressed along my career. From that first role, I took on increasingly more responsibilities and seniority in the bank, always with a sense of adventure to keep learning and bringing my best to whichever role I was in.
From China to Africa and back again
My husband is Zambian, and we’d met in China where he was running a successful textile business. Several years ago, he returned to Zambia and that propelled me to seek out the right role in Africa, as Standard Chartered has a large presence there. In 2015, I was appointed to as Regional Credit Officer for Africa, based in Johannesburg, and was thereafter promoted to a larger regional role looking after both Africa and Middle East.
Leaving the convenient and fast-paced life of Asia to live in Africa was difficult at first. But I looked at this as part of life’s unlimited adventures. I soon discovered how amazing living and working in Africa can be. Our Africa franchise, where we operate in 15 countries, is a true jewel in Standard Chartered’s crown – no other global bank has the same extensive network. In many markets, we are one of the largest financial institutions operating, meaning we are systemically important to those countries and their economies and their peoples. The sense of responsibility and achievement that you feel, when you are able to “do the right thing” and, say, approve a loan that you know will have an immediate positive effect on an economy – like a loan to build a solar power project in a rural area – this made me feel so proud to be part of the bank.
And then last year, I moved to Hong Kong to take on my current role as the Head of Financial Institutions, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. I consider it a huge privilege to be back in a frontline role, bringing everything I’ve learned in my over twenty-year banking career to make a real difference for our clients.