Backpack to Briefcase: A&S alumnus Rajeev Chib's career tips for a post-COVID-19 world

September 16, 2020 by Sarah MacFarlane - A&S News

“I'm keen to give back to the younger generation,” said Faculty of Arts & Science alumnus Rajeev Chib in a recent interview with A&S News. “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.”

He recently did just that during his presentation, The Workforce of the Future in a Post-COVID 19 World, as part of the Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) Summer Alumni Speaker Series, sponsored by U of T affinity partners MNBA and TD Insurance. 

The series of interactive Zoom webinars — which also featured a presentation by A&S alumna Kara Naklicki — provides opportunities for Arts & Science students and recent graduates to gain career advice from alumni.

As 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, Chib is eager to share his insight into the world of international finance. Based in Hong Kong, he tuned in to the webinar at 5 am — 5 pm in Toronto — to offer career advice and answer questions from students.

“The one thing to take away from today’s session is to network and engage as much as possible and get involved early in industry associations,” said Chib, who, as a member of New College, graduated from U of T in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree in quantitative economics. He then earned a master of business administration from the Rotman School of Management in 2008, as well as a doctor of business administration degree from City University of Hong Kong earlier this year.

Talent and diversity are key assets for the future of the workforce.

During his presentation, Chib explained practices that financial organizations are adopting: embracing simplification by focusing on their core competencies; increasing digital services and interactions; and prioritizing customers amid the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“At the end of the day, it’s about people,” he said. “It’s about trust. It’s about empathy.”

Rajeev Chib.
Arts & Science alumnus, Rajeev Chib is based in Hong Kong but keen on helping students at U of T.

Chib also provided tips for students navigating the virtual job hunt. Organizations are looking for “growth champions,” he said — individuals who can be innovative and run with ideas. He encouraged students to build meaningful connections within the industry and to be curious, flexible and adaptable, particularly with regards to rapid digitization in the finance world.

“Talent and diversity are key assets for the future of the workforce,” he said. “Management is responsible for gatekeeping that asset. At the heart of all of it is being comfortable with data and digitization. You don’t need a degree in computer science, but being comfortable with data is very important.”

At the end of the presentation, students had the opportunity to ask questions and were interested in learning more about Chib’s international experience. Having worked in major financial hubs in North America and Asia, why did he ultimately decide to stay in Hong Kong?

“It gives me access to diverse markets and great opportunities to collaborate,” he said, adding that he’s found each city he’s worked in — Toronto, New York and Hong Kong — to be engaging and full of valuable networking opportunities.

Afeez Popoola, a first-year PhD student in the Department of Earth Sciences, appreciated Chib’s insight into evolving workplace models and opportunities. “It was a very informative and supportive event. It gave an idea of the skills that are important and sought after by employers.”

“I enjoyed listening to Mr. Chib’s experience,” says Jiayi Su, a second-year undergraduate student and member of Trinity College who is studying computer science and statistics. “He had many great suggestions, and I learned what employers value about my degree. After a couple of amazing b2B sessions, I now have a clearer goal of which skillsets I should have to be better prepared for my future career. While gaining from alumni experiences, I'm also reflecting on what I could provide for the U of T community.”

Chib emphasized that though the workforce may look different in a post-COVID world, students can achieve success and should be confident in their abilities.

“You’re at a world-class university with world-class faculty. You’re all smart. It’s about shifting and being nimble and agile when it comes to understanding what the future workforce is. These are tough times — but take advantage of that.”

The Faculty of Arts & Science thanks U of T affinity partners MBNA and TD Insurance for their generous support of our b2B programs.