You acquire a different perspective

Meghraj Shah has found that international experience not only improves business relationships but enriches life, too.


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

If you work for an extended time in a different country, where you come across so many different people, that of course widens your horizons and prospects greatly. I have been in Italy twice, and returning the second time it felt like home.

My wife and I have more friends in Milan than in Bombay today.

This is the profound effect that the bank has had on our lives. If I could turn back the clock I would do the same thing again.
My earlier job in Milan involved lots of travelling around to build business and relationships with banks. I have visited countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, places that I wouldn’t necessarily go to on holiday. The opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world, who you would never otherwise have met, is invaluable.

How do you feel your life would be different had you not had international experience?

Had the bank not provided me with the opportunity to grow internationally, it would also be a limitation in terms of my knowledge of the bank. Through working in a representative office in India, then the head office in Milan, a hub branch in Hong Kong and now in a branch in Singapore, I know the bank far better. I have worked in almost all possible structures in which the bank operates. I would have missed all this if I had continued to work only in India.

What have you learnt from your international experience?

When you travel to a new country and make your nest there, you start looking at it from a different angle than if you are on holiday. You try to gain a deeper understanding if you are going to be there for longer. This applies to personal matters but also professionally: you appreciate local banking norms and practices. You learn things about your clients and their way of doing business.

Not only do you discover new territories, but you look with fresh eyes. You acquire a different perspective. You can pass on this knowledge and new way of looking to your family and also to your colleagues – how to conduct oneself, how to communicate and pass on information, as well as any limitations.



Photo: Meghraj Shah, General Manager Intesa Sanpaolo Singapore’s international branch.

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

I’m fairly realistic in life. According to the Peter Principle a person will get promoted as long as he or she is competent. At some point, this person will fail to get promotion because the job is too challenging for him.

So every employee rises to his or her level of incompetence and stays there. I know that one day, like everybody else, I will reach also my level of incompetence.

But for now I think I still have a fair bit of working life left in me, and I would hope to have more responsibilities assigned to me, more challenging tasks ahead.

I would want to work outside Italy, as I am one of the only non-Europeans working for the bank at head-office level

and I have managed to break the ‘glass ceiling’ of being a non-European at a senior level.

This goes to show that the bank is changing a bit and is looking to become much more international, which is really positive.

Related stories.