Hai Ling ’93, Mastercard Executive, Offers Advice to Students


This year, Hai Ling, a 1993 graduate of Saint
Rose in business administration and now co-president of Asia-Pacific at Mastercard and a Saint
Rose trustee will join me for an armchair conversation so that we can discuss his educational
and professional journey and the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the Asia-Pacific
region. Thank you all for being here. It feels great to be here because Saint Rose
is where my American dream started. What was it like to be an international student? When you first arrived in the early 1990s,
what was it like here? I didn’t know what I was doing. (laughter) I had to learn so many things from
scratch. Saint Rose was a lovely community. To this day I remember the kind people, the
students, the professors, the things I learned here. Because I was a business major I took a lot
of classes in economics and I would encourage all the students here to really do a lot of
economics because even today in my work, I may have forgotten many things my teachers
taught me, but economics as a discipline always stays with me. It makes me more analytical. It makes me look at the world in a very different
lens. You know, in order to be successful in business
you have to be global. You have to think globally. Do you have any other advice about how to
do that when you’re in Albany, New York, right now, no matter where you’re from? I think the best way to really gain knowledge
to understand other countries is really to live with these people to work alongside them
and to breathe with them, right? For you to really understand other countries,
other people, other cultures reading a book won’t do it. Hearing me talk for 10 minutes won’t do it. It’s really your own experience. You have to experience it. What made it possible for you to be successful
in that 20-year journey that you just summarized so quickly? Always be curious because the world is changing. To challenge yourself to go outside of your
usual comfort zone I think is very important. Even though I run a big region for Mastercard
I don’t think I know it all. I’m learning every day still and I tripped
over things. I failed but I was able to pick myself up
and lick my own wounds and I moved on and then I Iooked back and said this is nothing. That was OK, and that gave me the confidence
to say it’s OK to take a risk. It’s almost like in the investment world — I
do a lot of that nowadays — I sometimes make money, I lose money, and when I lose money
it’s pretty painful. But if adopt the right strategy in the big
picture of things, it’s fine. So you look back at the losses and so long
as you’re learning from them that becomes OK and that gives me the confidence to take
more risks. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation. Please join me in applauding Hai Ling (sound
of applause).

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