Practical Insights to navigate the world  

Michael Zink, former head of Citibank's Southeast Asia region, had provided key career lessons that are timeless and practical for one who is looking to work around the world gaining international exposures. He will be concluding his 27 year journey around 10 countries and will head back to the US and settle down for a comfortable retirement.

The first advice he shared was to always have faith in your team and eventually you can reap the rewards. Michael was heading a start-up top management team in 1994 in order to fortify Citi's banking roots in Russia. A bold decision was made to employ young graduates in their young 20s without any banking experience. The graduates are all very smart and talented with big dreams. It was tough bringing up the young team but the experienced bankers managed to pull through which cemented the leadership succession status and drove Citi's business growth in the Russian region. The once raw talent rose become country leaders in Kazakhstan as well as Vietnam.
The second advice was to put in place leaders who can resonate well with clientele demographics and have high employee engagement. This is to call for a diverse set of team leaders who can reach out to different segment of the client base and employee profiles. This will bring out the best in employees and earning trust to serve society in the best possible manner. The Singaporean branch is a testament to the ideals that Citi worked hard to achieve. The top investment banking head, private banking head, commercial banking head and operations head consists of female Singaporeans. Singaporeans dominate the local leadership teams. Diversity is truly a necessity to create organizational value.
The third advice is to sharpen your skills and contribute more to rise up the ranks. Many people have this misconception that only millennials wants to contribute to meaningful work and have high learning exposures. This is not true as young graduates from the 1950s have the same notion and aspirations to work hard and be successful. Michael was tasked to handle operations in Port Gentil, a small town in West Africa. The young Michael was clueless on running a branch and did not get things going and voiced his concern to the country head for Africa. The advice he had was to be productive and useful to the organization. It hit him right in the head and proceeded to manage the branch with ease which propelled his career progression. It was intense but it boils down to perseverance and willingness to learn and fall and re-learn.
The final advice that he could offer is to seek out mentors and follow the paths of good role models. Michael was a very ambitious young lad and after about 10 years working for Citi and having 4 children, he started having difficulty balancing career aspirations and family commitments. He seek out a senior officer in Citi and managed to find out about 2 role models which had given him invaluable advice and actual evidence of having a good career while staying happily married. Always distinguish between mentors who will guide you in your career and do not hesitate to seek out role models who will guide you in your life. Be sure to show your gratitude by passing on the wisdom to the next generation after benefitting from you role model and mentor's time and generosity.
The world is huge and there are never ending stories to be heard and witnessed. Be bold to cross out of your comfort zone and stepping into a foreign country. Michael Zink is ever ready to contribute his humble opinion should anyone call upon him.

 

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