The Hub for the Future Mentorship Programme 2021-2022 was organised to provide support and guidance to HSBC Scholars, helping them unleash their potential and realise their ambitions, and enhancing their employability through networking with seasoned professionals.
Two gatherings were held for mentors and mentees to mingle with and learn from one another. In December 2021, more than 20 mentors and mentees joined the Mentorship Programme Initial Gathering and bonded with other participants through interactive activities. The Photo Challenge served as a great opportunity for them to deepen their understanding of one another. During the Challenge, mentors and mentees collaborated and demonstrated their creativity to compete for the “Best Shot of the Day”.
In July 2022, a latte art workshop was organised by the Greater Bay Area Skills Learning Programme. Awardees of HSBC Greater Bay Area (Hong Kong) Scholarship gathered with their mentors at the workshop and exchanged insights and life stories in a relaxing atmosphere. Mentees shared their career vision to explore the potential of the GBA and mentors were glad to be inspired by young talents and their innovative thoughts.
All mentorship pairs also bonded in their own time through creative ways under the pandemic. Some mentors and mentees managed to meet for dinners and coffee chats, and others conducted virtual yet fruitful conversations via Zoom and phone calls. It is a meaningful endeavour to connect people from different professions and generations when the world is ravaged by disease and isolation.
The Hub for the Future Mentorship Programme 2021-2022 has come to a close, but the precious friendships between mentors and mentees will continue to enrich and guide their paths.
Having a few mentorship experiences beforehand without much fruitfulness, I was initially sceptical about this program. However, I knew it would be something different when my mentor Patrick, instead of me, reached out and texted first. At that moment, I was also worried that I might have made a bad impression of not taking the initiative. I was thankful that it turned out to be fine.
During the meetup at M21, I got to see the playful side of my mentor. I had a blast taking bizarre photos with him and felt like my mentor was a long-lost friend. Our personalities matched so well, and even though we only met a few times beforehand, I was comfortable putting down my “professional” side to engage with him.
Patrick is also very caring and would go out of his way to help. During my exchange, he checked in with me to make sure everything was alright and offered to help whenever needed. I felt genuinely cared for and thankful to have such a mentor. In the future, I will continue to keep in touch with Patrick and share more about what is going on in my life. Especially now that I am in Singapore, I would like to share more about the technology used in daily life with him and consult him more regarding problems I might encounter during my studies.
During my conversation with my mentor Philip, he briefly recapped his professional journey from starting his career in Hong Kong, to spending some time in the UK, and eventually moving to Shanghai where he is currently at. His transition to Shanghai was one of the main focuses of our discussion and he noted that the rules and cultures were significantly different between the two markets. Hong Kong is very market-oriented whereas Shanghai is much more complex with competing considerations. Therefore, he went through a period of patient learning and adaptation to understand how he could leverage his experience under the market environment. I found this discussion really helpful because I shared his experiences as well when I was interning with a commercial law firm in Shanghai. His advice to always draw common intention and avoid a zero-sum approach between conflicting parties is something I will always keep close to my heart when I am dealing with a similar situation in the future.
Philip was also very kind to share about his work in business banking. He works mostly with start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in mainland China, and since start-ups are inherently fast-moving, his team also has to be agile and innovative. They need to adapt to the current environment and introduce new services such as digital banking and streamline approval to answer to customers’ needs. I found this very interesting because in the commercial law profession, there has also been increased calls for lawyers to actively engage their clients and to move away from the traditional fee model. Philip’s sharing has encouraged me to be curious and to find my own way in the ever-changing market.
The mentorship programme exceeded my expectations and gave me a better sense of direction and greater clarity in terms of my future academic and professional development. During my previous meeting with my mentor Tim, I made a brief comment about how I sometimes felt as though I was "stuck alone" or stagnating in research, that I was eagerly looking for peers to discuss and collaborate with. Although I only made this comment in passing, Tim astutely recognised how this might be a problem in the long run and expressed willingness and eagerness to discuss my research and broader academic development. He also tapped into his impressive professional network and introduced me to a seasoned researcher, a fellow HSBC executive, who had completed a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, published prolifically in top conferences, and shared my research interests in robust and structured neural network training. I deeply appreciate Tim's readiness to mentor, advise and connect, and really am spoiled to have him as my mentor.
Prior to joining the mentorship programme, I held a self-image of someone who was very technically oriented with aspirations of contributing to society via research innovations and was uninterested in business. Yet, I now see that business and entrepreneurship is a great way to bring frontier research into the lives and households of people, bridging the gap between the latest state of the art technology and what people have access to every day. Moving forward, I will place more emphasis on technical communication (explaining and integrating our research into industry applications) and I also have plans to collaborate with business professionals to kickstart AI-powered projects which are both commercially and socially sustainable.
’Have you decided yet? What are you going to do once you graduate?’
Loved ones around me have bombarded me with this question at certain points throughout my undergraduate studies. Time really does fly, and my graduation approaches. As I was feeling stuck with a clouded path ahead of me, I am glad to have met such an aspiring and amiable mentor like Mike.
Choosing to pursue a career in an industry that is constantly evolving, I have to ensure that I can keep up and continue to improve my field-related knowledge with an undying heart of passion. With Mike’s accommodating and empathetic nature, every Zoom session felt like facetiming a good old friend despite the pandemic situation. Instead of emphasising his seniority or professional experience and lecturing me on my failings, he showed a deep desire to understand and guide me as I unfolded the obstacles I had faced throughout my academic journey and experience working with clients. His selfless gesture of sharing his own genuine experience without reservation and even spending his spare time going through my projects to give me detailed and constructive feedback really made me feel validated and motivated to go on.
I really could not thank him and the organisers of this programme enough. Mentoring is a two-way street, and Mike has definitely demonstrated and fulfilled his role being a wonderful teacher and advisor.
Since I was a freshman, I have had a strong passion for the finance industry, especially banking in China. I believe this sector can offer me a fast-paced, continuously demanding and rapid career progression. As China's new economy is rapidly emerging, where domestic SMEs and unicorns as well as national enterprises demand tremendous capital to promote business growth, there are numerous opportunities for banking in China. However, I did not have a good grasp of the structure of its banking system and the corresponding employment opportunities.
That is why I feel very grateful that the HSBC Greater Bay Area (GBA) Scholarship scheme offered me the Hub for the Future Mentorship Programme. During our gathering via Zoom, my mentor Philip generously shared his personal banking experience in the Mainland. I had a more in-depth understanding of the mutual integration of the banking systems of the Mainland and Hong Kong nowadays, and the convenience and advantages of this integrated banking system for companies that do business in both China and Hong Kong. In addition, Philip also explained the exceptional advantages of the GBA compared to other key Mainland bay areas, and the unique role of foreign banks in the GBA, including introducing foreign strategic investors, utilising Hong Kong as an offshore centre for RMB, facilitating the reform of the Mainland financial system and so on. Philip’s sharing was very useful for me to understand the prospects of the banking industry in the GBA as well as potential banking employment opportunities in the future. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Philip for mentoring me during this period.