meeting with Alex

What are Canadians known for? If you search on Google, it will tell you Canadians are friendly, courteous, and easy to talk to. They also play hockey, by the way, which is the national sport in Canada. Not to stereotype or categorise people, but this is, by no coincidence at all, my exact first impression of our classmate, Alex, who comes from Canada. Every time someone talks to Alex, he always listens and responds in a chill and calm manner, and with a gentle smile. You can always see him taking part in various kinds of activities, joining all sorts of events, embracing the diversity of our program.

(For below, Q referred to as questions from HKU MBA marketing club, A stands for Alex)

Q: How would you describe yourself in three words.

A: Charismatic, active, and caring.

Q: How would you define “charismatic”?

A: For me, “charismatic” is wanting to learn from new people. I have always tried to talk to new people, mingle with them, especially after I came to HKU, I’d like to talk to everyone. Instead of always getting myself in one group, I’d like to interact with everyone, which is what I value and try to do. Everywhere I go, I talk to and learn from someone, people in my team, or other teams, or even the janitors.

In terms of being charismatic, I try to be as open and honest as possible. I always try to understand where people are coming from, rather than judge them.

Q: How would you like others to describe you?

A: Open and honest. I want others to think of me as someone they can come and talk to without being judged. If someone comes to talk to me, I want their impression to be, “oh, he is very easy to talk to”. I want to create psychological safety for others.

Q: Please share with us a memorable story from work.

A: When I was working here in Hong Kong before going back to Canada, I was a trainee in trading. One day, we all went out for drinks after work. It was my first outing with them, so I didn’t know what to do. We went to a very nice steakhouse. I was surprised to see a different out-of-office side of the director, which was also the head trader. Since it was my first job and I didn’t know what the work culture was here in Hong Kong, I was not sure how I should act in that kind of situation. But clearly everyone let loose of themselves, had a couple of drinks, and bonded. It was quite memorable, seeing different sides of people after work and sharing things with each other.

Q: Please share with us about someone who you worked with that you like or don’t like about.

A: In my last job in Canada, I was working as an account administrator, whose role was to help process mutual funds for financial institutions and provide back-office support for companies. There was this colleague from India, who basically took me under his wing. He was working there for more than 15 years. Since my previous job had nothing to do with mutual funds, the work was not the same at all, with different programs. He helped me a lot. I would say he was a mentor to me at that company. Although it was not his job to help me, he still reached out and gave me a lot of guidance. Later we hang out like friends. I was really lucky to have the working environment and company culture in my last job. Everyone was friendly and helpful.

Q: Please share with us your experience at HKU MBA.

A: It has been going really well. It is good to learn from each other. I really appreciate the diversity here we have in class. We all come from different professional backgrounds. Not everyone is from finance or banking. We have people from the automobile, hospitality, and education industries. It is always nice to hear from their perspective. Since I’ve never got education in Asia, I really like the idea of learning with the Chinese mentality, compared with the western mentality. As a kid growing up in Canada, everyone has the same type of understanding and perspective. It is always nice to hear from the other sides.

Q: What do you want to do in your free time?

A: If I have time, I will go to the gym. I also play basketball. Back in Canada, I played hockey. Maybe next time we can all go and rent the equipment, play teams, that would be fun.

Q: Who do you want to be in the future?

A: I envision myself working for a financial technology company as a Chief Operating Officer or a partner leading the change in the financial sector. I can make a difference in finance, working in areas like ESG where the financial sector has a long way to go. Being a leader in ESG in Fintech is what I want to do in the future.

Q: Imagine we are now in July 2032, Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What are you doing after?

A: Well, by then I will be back to Canada probably. We will have a house by the lake, to be close to nature. In our modern green house, which is completely carbon-free, we have solar panels and it will be energy efficient. There will be a lot of windows, so we can have natural sunlight. Of course, I envision myself having my own family and leading a very simple life. When I go home after work, I can hang out with my kids and relax.

During the interview, Alex described himself as having an old soul. I would like to quote Mark Strand, a Canadian-American poet, to depict Alex as the one keeping things whole. We believe that along the way, he is going to make a difference not only to the financial sector in terms of being socially responsible, but also to the people around him, the community and society.

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in

to fill the spaces

where my body's been.

We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand

Sandra Zheng