I am on assignment in Hong Kong working in the office of MetLife’s Asia chief financial officer, and had previously worked at the company’s New York headquarters.
As a student in the master of science in Global Finance programme, offered by NYU Stern and HKUST, I have been given a great opportunity to broaden my experience, apply what I learn from the programme, find ways to add value, and continue to develop my career.
I am approaching my 10 year mark at MetLife, and am reflecting back on my experience in financial roles supporting the chief executive and CFO and business, management, sales, and marketing groups, across the Property & Casualty division, US Business-Individual Business Marketing, and International Strategic Planning and Growth Strategies.
I applied to the MSc in Global Finance because I believe it is a great way to bolster my qualifications, enrich my knowledge base and financial acumen, launch my career development in a new trajectory, and continue to help MetLife achieve profitable growth globally.
I also wanted to improve my knowledge of Chinese and enhance my overall cultural awareness by gaining work experience in Asia and returning to my roots in Hong Kong, where I lived before moving to the US.
Our class of 2011-2012 will graduate in November. We are interested in the development of China’s capital markets, macro economics trends, demographic shifts and the labour force, banking reform, risk management, and venture capital.
We just finished our Beijing study module at Tsinghua University, the top school in China, which I thought was a very valuable addition to the overall programme, as it gave us a comprehensive overview with intriguing insights into various aspects of the country.
Many of us are interested in learning more about China and its growing importance in both Asia and the world, which is a new frontier for a majority of the class.
Recent developments in the global markets have made it clear that today’s markets are truly globally connected; no country or region is immune from events unfolding thousands of miles away.
The hot topics range from the ever evolving EU/euro crisis which seems to worsen by the day, the slow recovery in the US compounded by the recent losses driven by rogue traders at banks such as JPMorgan Chase, the developing situation in the Middle East and the next phase of reforms ignited by the Arab Spring movements.
One of the biggest hopes is for China and the other Bric countries to maintain strong growth to offset the decline and slowdown of the developed world.
However, one of the biggest fears is a slowdown in China’s economic growth driven by both a drop in external demand because of the global recession and the turmoil in EU countries.
In addition, domestic issues, ranging from civil unrest, a growing income gap, how quickly and adequately the RMB will be internationalised and come to rival the role of the US dollar and the euro as a reserve currency.
Also, as China’s growth slows, there will be more focus on its economic development. In particular, the world will look at a shift to domestic growth and consumption, evolving market reforms, uncovering problems hidden under the booming economy, and the shift from industries driven by manual labour to more reliance on technology and services.
Because of my interest in China, two favourite segments in the recent Beijing study module were the company visit with Ning Tang, chief executive of CreditEase, a business that is experiencing strong growth in microfinance lending and other innovative financial products, and the industry speaker session with Chen Peitao, head of strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations at ICBC, the Chinese bank.
The programme office also planned a networking event in the trendy neighbourhood of San Li Tun, where we had a chance to interact with HKUST alumni based in Beijing.
I was able to make further use of my time in Beijing by establishing a personal connection with the students of Tsinghua University and also connecting with friends there who are in the current International MBA programme.
Throughout my China visit, I was able to try out the idea of guan xi, or building relationships.
One highlight of the visit for me was to be a tourist marvelling at the wonders that Beijing and China have to offer.
I recommend the Beijing Chinese Ethnic Culture Park. It was an experience to see and interact with China’s more than 50 minority ethnic groups.
As I return to Hong Kong after the Beijing module, I feel I have learnt academically from classes at Tsinghua, professionally from meeting with my company’s executives in the MetLife China office, and personally by making new friends.
The MSc in Global Finance programme has been a tremendous experience, giving me a truly global world view and adding to my focus and passion for Asia and China, allowing me to feel the pulse of the lively Asian market and to further my aspiration of working on every continent and to travel the world.
Michael Chiu is a student on the MSc Global Finance offered by NYU Stern and HKUST. He will graduate in November 2012.