Joseph Healy

March 16, 2015, by Student blogger

I left a successful banking career to study in China

Mature student Joseph Healy, who is studying MA Contemporary Chinese Studies, left a successful career in international banking to study at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). He describes why he chose to become a student again and how his fifth masters degree is setting him up for an interesting future.

When l meet and introduce myself to people at UNNC, l am often conscious of a double-take in their body language that reminds me l’m not a typical student. The story of why l am here is not the usual narrative, but it’s one l don’t mind telling.

I’ve had a successful career as a banker, first in London, New York and then Sydney. I’ve worked in several international banks and most recently National Australia Bank, where l was a member of the Group Executive Committee running a bank with an US$85bn market capitalisation. My responsibilities covered activities across Australia, Asia, London and New York. I spent half of my time travelling, including much time in Asia and London. A working week was easily 60 hours.

In April 2014, the CEO of the bank resigned and l lost out on my claim for that job. When such things happen sometimes it’s best to move on, so in August l decided to leave.

I’ve long been interested in China – one of the critical requirements for the role l had at the bank was an informed view of the geo-political and economic trends impacting risks – and I wanted to take a sabbatical and immerse myself in contemporary Chinese matters. I particularly wanted to do this in an environment that allowed me to appreciate Chinese people, society and culture.

UNNC met my criteria perfectly and l have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I enjoy the discipline and rigour of study – this will be my fifth masters degree! Along with adaptability and resilience, I believe that knowledge, critical and strategic thinking and ideas are crucial qualities if you’re looking to lead and influence people, which is what l enjoy doing.

I’m also a great believer in knowing the opportunity cost of your time and making sure that what you do is worthwhile. I’ve never been someone to do things half-heartedly. I believe in the merits of hard work and that what you get out of something is highly correlated to what you put in. So, l’ve made the most of my time at UNNC by reading and travelling a lot. It has been a great time for personal reflection. It also been fantastic to meet so many people both within UNNC and across China – l am a regular traveller to Shanghai and Beijing.

What next? I do miss the intellectual challenges of dealing with burning issues, managing and developing talent, dealing with external events and achieving business goals, whilst crafting business strategies for the future. Throughout my career, l’ve worked with businesses, small and large, and seen many grow from little acorns to big trees. I’ve also seen many businesses fail. I’m looking forward to returning to the finance industry in an environment that has a strong Asia and China focus. I’m also looking forward to continuing my involvement with a passion of mine – football. I’m currently a Board Director of the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and as newly crowned champions of Asia, we have some big strategic goals (no football pun intended!) and l want to play my part in achieving them.

I mentioned that when l meet people at UNNC many are visibly surprised to see a ‘mature student’. Ironically and pleasingly, when l meet business people in the UK and Australia, universally they say: “l wish l could do something like that. China is so important.”

Posted in ChinaChoosing ChinaNingboTravelUNNC life