Business was different when Tat-cheong Kwan (MBA ‘99) first joined the Bank of East Asia (BEA) in 1978. China had not yet opened its doors to the world, and services for those in the country were limited. Now this executive director/CEO of BEA (China) Limited is concerned that the supply of banking professionals may not match today’s demand.
“ Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the customers could only deposit and withdraw money at the banks,” remembers Kwan. “Now most of their banking needs can be served, such as personal loans and even wealth management”
While a student at Webster, Kwan says he was pleasantly surprised to find the diversity of its faculty. They came from all over the world to teach in China, and Kwan says that helped broaden his horizon.
“ The most important thing I learned from Webster China (Shanghai) is that you must focus on the local market but with an international vision.”
That’s important these days as the finances of the world remain headline news. Because China is so international and many multi-national corporations operate there, the economy is heavily driven by foreign trade. “You catch a cold and I will sneeze,” Kwan says in regards to the world economy. He sees relief coming two to three years down the road but only after the European debt problem is solved. Kwan’s advice to the next generation of leaders mirrors Webster’s mission to bring reality-based education to all our students.
“ Your market always comes before book knowledge,” Kwan says. “You need to know your market very well before you can effectively apply your learned knowledge. The advice I would give is to be more aggressive and not afraid of failing.”