The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Catherine Weir, the head of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking for Southeast Asia. She oversees activities in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei. In Singapore alone, Citigroup employs 8,400 people. Her advice to new college graduates:
To those looking for building blocks in their careers, I would say take a deep look at the financial-services market. You can apply your skills in many different ways and in many different aspects. There is investment, consumer lending, corporate finance, of course, but there's also technology, project management, marketing, public affairs and communications.
The industry is growing, and there are very positive growth prospects in Asia for the next decade at least. Growth creates opportunity, and the industry will be an enormous developer of new talents.
Her thoughts on adapting to Asia:
While Asia is Asia, every community is different. We do the same products and services and the strategy is broadly the same. The great challenge is to calibrate to the different culture, the environment, marketplace and client.
For example, I think there is a little bit of cerebralness in the way Singaporeans work. They will study very hard, fashion a strategy and take action. Hong Kongers are more tactical and action-oriented, and they will adjust along the way.