Wing Ching How, Visa

Wing Ching How

Business Development Leader

Ching How graduated with a Bachelor of Business from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Being part of a rotational programme helped tremendously as I rapidly experienced different areas of the business, and at the same time, benefitted from diverse perspectives across the organisation.

Getting started

I studied Business, specialising in Banking and Finance, with the initial notion of joining a bank, but was ultimately drawn to the wide exposure offered by the Visa Graduate Development Programme (GDP). Other considerations were the strength of the Visa brand, business model and authenticity of employees I encountered. My first role as part of the programme was as a Payment System Risk analyst to cover for a colleague who had gone on maternity leave. This proved to be a fantastic learning experience as I was exposed to the full scope of a regular employee while still being supported by a nurturing team.

Initial challenges

When I first started, the knowledge gap between myself and other employees seemed insurmountable as payments is a fairly niche industry with a small but deeply experienced labour force. Being part of a rotational programme helped tremendously as I rapidly experienced different areas of the business, and at the same time, benefitted from diverse perspectives across the organisation.

But on hindsight, a more deliberate effort to address specific learning topics and pick the brains of more colleagues would have definitely helped me to move through the learning curve faster.

My turning point

In 2014, I faced two very attractive but very different paths. One led to product specialisation and supporting an established business unit with experienced leaders while the other was on functional leadership in an international frontier market. Ultimately, my mentor gave me the push I needed to go after the role in the frontier market by boosting my confidence, reminding me that staying in one’s comfort zone never got anyone anywhere, and saying: “If they didn’t think you are equipped to succeed, they wouldn’t have offered this option!”

I continued to be based in Singapore until 2017, when my newlywed wife and I relocated to Myanmar. Boarding a plane with a one-way ticket is very different from a short-term assignment, but a supportive wife, understanding employers and managers – both hers and mine – and an all-star team waiting on the other side definitely helped.

At the end of 2018, after leading Merchant Sales & Acquiring for four years, I repatriated back to Singapore. Looking back, opting to pursue the “riskier” market role benefitted me tremendously as it provided critical opportunities to establish my credibility early in my career and gain a deep appreciation of the multi-faceted work in markets.

My proudest moment

My proudest achievement is being part of the team that set up our fledging payment business in Myanmar. There are not many countries in the world where electronic payment is as foreign as it was when I joined the Visa Myanmar team in 2014. Through developing detailed strategies, deep client partnerships, solid teamwork, and a good dash of trial and error, I helped to establish the first merchant acceptance points beyond the hotel industry, quadrupling the number of Visa accepting merchants in the process. The icing on the cake was the invaluable overseas working experience and lifelong friendships built.

A leader's skills

In most large organisations, subject matter expertise and project ownership is typically scattered across several teams. Hence, collaborative skills like effective communication, influence, and project management are essential to achieving business objectives. Another important skill is strategic thinking and prioritisation, or figuring out the “how” behind the “what” of your KPIs to be more effective. Lastly, I subscribe to the saying “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” While thorough preparation and planning are important, listening skills and an openness to change in response to new information or perspectives will help maximise success.

Advice for graduates

Prioritise learning exposure and opportunities early on to establish a strong foundation. Invest time to build your professional networks and be sure to make full use of any mentorship programmes available to find yourself some trusted career advisors.