A distance of more than 12,000 kilometres won’t stop Faculty of Arts & Science alumnus, Rajeev Chib, from helping U of T students find their career path.
Based in Hong Kong, Chib is the director and regional head of client facilitation and business unit management for investor sales and relationship management for the Asia Pacific region at Citigroup Asia Markets.
He’s lived in Hong Kong for the past 12 years, but he’s still very active with U of T, to the benefit of all the students and recent graduates he connects with.
As a member of New College, Chib graduated with a bachelor of science degree in quantitative economics in 1994. He then completed his master of business administration from the Rotman School of Management in 2008. And he just earned a doctor of business administration degree from City University of Hong Kong this year.
“I look back at New College fondly,” he says. “It's how the St. George campus is designed ― being part of Arts & Science, while belonging to a college. There was this camaraderie amongst New College students. I made good friends from different disciplines.”
Impressed with the quality of his professors, it was Professor Emeritus David Foot — the well-known economist and author of the bestselling book, Boom Bust & Echo — who made a significant impression with his Economics & Demographics course. Chib even remembers his final grade, an A minus.
“His ability to engage students through storytelling is what I remember most,” says Chib, noting it was Foot who first sparked his interest in demographics. “His book is on my bookshelf and I pick it up frequently.”
Though it’s been over 25 years, Foot and Chib remain in contact. “Rajeev was a very good student and wrote an excellent research paper in my course,” says Foot. “I’m pleased but not surprised by his post-graduation successes.”
Chib credits professors like Foot for giving him the skills, confidence and backbone to pursue a career overseas.
“When I came to Asia, I kept in touch with a lot of professors and as a result, I wanted to give back whenever I came back to Toronto on vacation,” he says.
He now volunteers year-round in a variety of ways for New College, the Rotman School of Management and Trinity College.
Chib has been a participant in New College’s career mentorship program; the U of T Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees program; and New College’s Postcards from Afar program. And he would like to do even more volunteering and mentoring in the future.
There will be this joined-at-the-hip dynamic between traditional banking, financial service jobs and big tech companies. It's going to be part of an ecosystem.
“I'm keen to give back to the young generation,” he says. “I want to talk about what it's like working in the banking industry in North America and give students little snippets about careers in Asia.”
For current students interested in financial careers, Chib suggests they acquire “certain skill sets so that they’re better equipped for future jobs compared to traditional banking jobs, which are being automated.”
In fact, Chib sees a fusing of the banking and technology sectors on the horizon with increased adoption of fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“There will be this joined-at-the-hip dynamic between traditional banking, financial service jobs and big tech companies,” he says. “It's going to be part of an ecosystem.”
To navigate this new ecosystem, you have to be familiar with big data and data analytics, he believes.
“Look at data courses that will give you that edge,” he says. “You don't have to be a computer scientist, but to be in the workforce of tomorrow, I think you have to be comfortable with that.
“COVID-19 has turbo-charged some of these tech projects,” he continues. “Managers need to have the right tools to have the right data in front of them, especially in our type of business where markets have been quite volatile these past several months.”
Another recommendation — consider looking across the Pacific for a career.
“Coming to Asia, even if it's with a time frame of a few years, really rounds up someone's career and resume,” says Chib. “It offers a global perspective, especially in this day and age where you need to collaborate with different cultures.”
The action, the energy, the opportunities and the speed at which business and banking move all might appeal to young, ambitious graduates looking for a fast-paced work environment.
“Within financial services, you've got a lot of the biggest asset managers here, the biggest hedge funds,” says Chib. “They're all opening up shop, and many have existed here for decades.”
In the meantime, students should never lose sight of the advantage they already have by simply attending U of T.
“Don’t take this education for granted; it’s such a privilege to have access to world-class faculty and resources in a world-class city.”