Living abroad is like a gift box that stays open, filling up with new experiences and new challenges

Chiara Yu Long says working for Intesa Sanpaolo has helped her to fulfil a childhood dream.


Originally from a small town near Shanghai in China, Chiara Yu Long works at Intesa Sanpaolo’s Asia Pacific hub in Hong Kong, supporting the corporate banking team with a focus on client relationships. After studying in China, Italy and the US, she joined the company straight from university and worked in the head offices in Milan before transferring to Hong Kong in 2014.

How has international experience helped you to grow professionally and personally? 

I grew up in a small town, but as a child I was always curious about the world.

I would read fairytales from lots of different countries.

So being able to travel and sample different cultures is a dream come true.

I’ve learnt languages and widened my knowledge of people and cultures. And that also benefits my professional life. I think living in different countries has made me more flexible and creative and a better problem solver. You have to adapt to new ways of working. It’s like a gift box that stays open, filling up with new experiences and new challenges.

What has been your best experience?

One of the best was right at the beginning during my interview with Intesa Sanpaolo. The other people being interviewed were such a diverse group. They were from Brazil, Germany, Argentina and around the world. It was great to feel part of that diversity and I was very thankful when I was offered a job.

Also, when I transferred to Hong Kong after being in Italy, my managers and colleagues were amazing. I felt settled after just a week. They helped me so much.

What have you learnt from your international experience?

I’ve learnt how business is done differently, but I’ve also learnt to be careful with your name! I quickly discovered that my original Chinese name is almost unpronounceable for foreigners. So I picked Chiara and then found that outside Italy a lot of people pronounce the “ch” (as in China), when in Italy they say it as Kiara.

What are the characteristics of Intesa Sanpaolo and its people?

The company is in the middle of significant changes, rejuvenating and internationalising, and we are growing very quickly. Our people are very kind and welcoming, as I said, and also very dynamic and culturally diverse. Intesa Sanpaolo gives many colleagues the opportunity to broaden their international experience and spend time – whether two weeks or two months – in a different branch. That’s important, and it’s great for career development.

I know from my own experience how useful it is to spend time in different countries and cultures.

In the end the company wanted me to go to Hong Kong because of my language skills and my experience, and it’s great for me because I’m closer to my home town and my family.

Where would you like to be in your career in five years?

I very much live in the present and can’t really think two years ahead. I would just like to take all the opportunities that are offered to me in the international sphere. I’m also excited by new possibilities in remote banking. When cloud technology is more secure and mature in a few years’ time, we could find ourselves working at home or from locations other than offices that would provide more flexibility and mobility for those who love international experience.

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