On OpenDoors this week, we had the pleasure of meeting John Lee. John is working at a leading investment research and financial services firm and is currently undergoing 12 months of rotational training and development across the company’s Client Coverage product lines to become a sales specialist. With a bright career ahead of him, John speaks with a sense of poise and assurance that you normally wouldn’t associate with a 24-year-old. “But it hasn’t always been this smooth”, John reveals as he reflects upon the last few years of his career, “there were a lot of times when I really struggled and questioned myself”. So how did John defy all the odds and get to where he is today? Join us in our interview with him and read about his story below!
OpenDoors: What inspired you to get into the finance industry in the first place?
John Lee: Growing up in Hong Kong with parents who are in the banking industry, I always knew I wanted to do something in finance. To pave the path, I studied economics in university and did an internship at a brokerage firm. Nevertheless, when the time came to graduate, I still had very little idea what I wanted to focus my career on. Like many of my peers, I joined a financial services trainee program at a retail bank because I knew I could get exposure in different areas. This being my first job after graduation, it was definitely not easy and took some time to adjust. After a few months, I finally got the hang of it and was becoming good at it, which mainly involved managing and acquiring retail client relationships.
OpenDoors: You were just beginning to reap the rewards of your hard work, why did you decide to leave the company?
John Lee: I’m the kind of person who can never settle for comfort. As I was improving at what I did as a trainee, I also started to feel less pressured, and more comfortable, and then my ambitions grew. While interacting with retail clients taught me a lot, I wanted even more, and the next natural milestone for me was managing institutional clients. At that moment, my desire to learn and grow was so strong that I was willing to leave behind comfort and stability to join a Chinese state-owned commercial bank despite knowing that there will be language barrier, culture shock and a ton of unknowns ahead. Luckily, the job was everything I hoped it would be and I gained valuable experience from dealing with financial institutional clients such as virtual banks. Around a year and a half later, I found myself again being too comfortable and longing for the next challenge.
OpenDoors: With two solid job experiences under your belt at this point, surely it was easy for you to switch to another job?
John Lee: Believe it or not, it was anything but easy. I must have had a few dozen interviews, but nothing seemed to click. In one particular instance, I had the opportunity to interview with my dream company at the time, and I was doing so well up until the final interview with the director but then the pressure got the best of me and I failed it. To be honest, I felt defeated for weeks and questioned whether it was a good idea to leave my comfortable job after all. Still, I never stopped looking and finally landed a job at my current company.
OpenDoors: What advice would you give someone who wants to advance his/ her career but is unsure how?
John Lee: I have an interesting perspective on this. Instead of thinking long and hard about what you want to do in the future, simply look around you and identify the people you aspire to be. Study their profile and experience to see exactly what they did to end up where they are now.
OpenDoor: What final piece of advice would you like to give our readers?
John Lee: Never sit still for luck to find you, you have to go out and create your own luck. You may feel miserable at the start and begin to question everything about yourself, but I promise the experiences and lessons that you get out will be worth it in the end. Lastly, surround yourself with great minds and take every job seriously, those are my secrets.
This article is brought to you by OpenDoors — a platform dedicated to helping individuals in Hong Kong build and expand their professional network.