Alumni Portraits

  • Banker with an Action-Packed Past

    Han Lin (MSGF 2010)
    24 Mar 2014

    The life of Han Lin, Senior Vice-president and Deputy General Manager for the Wells Fargo Bank in Shanghai, totally defies the image of a stolid banker.

    Born and raised in the US, his impressive financial credentials include a business degree from the University of Michigan, and selection for General Electric's elite Financial Management Program which rotates those chosen through different company divisions. More unusually, Han has also served in the US Marine Corps, helping to rescue people in the Philippines in the wake of the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption; and assisted in the revitalization of the newly independent Ukraine as a member of the US Peace Corps. He is also a Taekwondo black belt, and has studied Shaolin Praying Mantis kung fu and tai chi.

    After signing on as a US Marine reserve, Han was called up in 1990 in the midst of his undergraduate studies as part of the Desert Shield mobilization. Though he did not eventually go to Iraq, his missions in Asia included the humanitarian operation around Mount Pinatubo. "We saved a lot of people in the aftermath," Han recalled in an earlier interview. "I still remember being buried under ash and not seeing the sun for four days due to the intensity of the eruption."

    The experience left a lasting impression. Following his return to university and subsequent time with General Electric, Han decided to make his financial skills available to others by joining the Peace Corps. He was sent to the Ukraine to advise on business development, staying on for an extra year after his tour of duty finished to serve as country director for an NGO.

    He moved to China in 2006, following a course at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an international banking training program at Wachovia Bank (later acquired by Wells Fargo).

    Han was drawn to the ground-breaking joint HKUST-NYU Stern Master of Science in Global Finance (MSGF) program in the economic crisis times of 2008-09 to increase his knowledge in risk management, particularly as it related to Asia and China. The one-year program offers modules in Hong Kong, New York and Mainland China and enrolls global executives looking for different perspectives on the world of finance.

    Han's international exposure blended with his US upbringing gives him a particular interest in multiculturalism. Some of his views on this were shared with fellow alumni as a panel speaker on cultural diversity and business success in China at the annual Business School Alumination@Shanghai event in 2013.

    He would like his children to be equally comfortable in diverse settings and societies. "I hope my daughters can feel at home in China and the US. Hence their education plan is likely to involve study in both places.  The ability to understand and navigate comfortably in different cultures will be a key career skill as well as a helpful quality to make life a richer experience."