BU Today

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In our series “Jump-start Your Job Search,” BU Today brings you short interviews with BU alums who are leaders in their fields, such as banking, advertising, tech start-ups, journalism, or nonprofit organizations.

They talk about how they got to be where they are and what they’ve learned from their mistakes. They tell us what they look for when hiring and offer advice for those just embarking on a career.

This week, our featured alum is Rene Leung (SHA’03), chief strategy officer of Grandtag Financial Group, a Hong Kong–based independent wealth management provider and advisory firm.

Leung is responsible for driving the business’ growth, developing new partnerships, and managing marketing and operational functions. She has been at Grandtag for more than eight years: before becoming chief strategy officer, she was the company’s chief operating officer, head of marketing, business development director, and marketing director. The business exec has also worked at the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, and the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. She earned an executive MBA in a joint program between Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. She graduated with a bachelor’s in hospitality administration and management from BU’s School of Hospitality Administration.

  1. BU Today: How did you come to work in financial services?

    Leung: Before I graduated from SHA, one of my goals was to work in the event marketing side of an investment bank. An opportunity arose when a friend made an introduction for me to interview at one of the banks. I was subsequently recruited to join the Lehman Brothers Asia Pacific roadshow marketing team, and that is where my career in the financial services industry began.

  2. How competitive is the financial services field for new college graduates?

    There is a lot of competition globally for jobs in the financial services industry. It is important to know why you want to enter the field and to show a commitment to the industry.

  3. What are the qualities you look for in the people you hire? What are the deal breakers?

    Attitude, passion, and commitment. Having a positive and open-minded learning attitude means that you will have a willingness to grow and to succeed. If you are passionate about the industry, there is no doubt that you will do your best and commit to your career.

    A deal breaker is not having confidence. It will be impossible to devote yourself wholeheartedly in any position if you are not confident in what you are doing.

  4. What kinds of questions do you ask during an interview?

    I like to get to know the person when I meet them and to understand why they are interested in our company and how they think they can contribute to the organization. It is always interesting to see through a fresh pair of eyes where young candidates observe the potential of the industry evolving, as well as how they can participate in the development of the future.

  5. What are some common mistakes that young job candidates make?

    Some young graduates are not willing to do dirty work. What they do not realize is that you can learn something in every small task. It is not always about the result, but rather the process and experience where you gain life’s most important lessons.

  6. What advice would you give an employee for the first day on the job and for the first six months?

    Listen. Observe. Learn.

  7. What mistakes have you made during your career, and what lessons have you learned from them?

    Having the fear of failure is something that has deterred me in my growth as an executive. What I’ve learned is that you learn and grow in every experience you come across, and it is through making mistakes that you gain new knowledge about what you don’t know. That is most valuable.

  8. Who has had the greatest influence on your career (teacher, mentor, boss, family member), and why?

    My mentor—I met him through a project at work, he was hired as a consultant—has been the greatest influence in my career as he developed my self-confidence as a business executive and coached me on valuable lessons relating to management, leadership, and people development.

Are you an alum who would like to be interviewed for BU Today’s “Jump-start Your Job Search” series? Email John O’Rourke at orourkej@bu.edu.

Read other stories in our “Jump-start Your Job Search” series here.

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