In 2011, the United Nation estimated that there are 925 million hungry people in the world. The World Bank estimates that three billion people, almost half the Globe, live on less than $2.50 a day. Even America is not spared as CNN estimated 7.9 million people lost their job in the recent recession.
Look closer and you will see poverty dominating the world. Even the most expensive villages are no more than an hour away from the poorest communities. It is this familiarity that makes it easy for people to ignore it, tolerate it, and even nurture it. I am no exception. Growing up several steps away from a poor village, hungry children, beggars and dilapidated houses were no more than a part of my horizon.
That changed when I worked in Hang Seng Bank and HSBC Bank as an intern. I learned that the opening of China’s market also allowed the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). They have grown steadily, producing 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product, and employing 82 percent of the total workforce. What is even more interesting is the fact that there is barely any support to boost their access to the international market, they have less access or capacity to develop new technologies because of their lack of financial allotment for Research and Development (R&D), and difficulty of getting bank loans for capital because of poor management system.
It was when I started seeing how critical their role is in the Global economy. Take them out and only 18 percent of China will be employed. It was also when I started how a simple policy change can strengthen them. Tax breaks, for example, will allow them to produce more products and increase their profit giving them leverage to employ more people, contribute more to the GDP, and eventually pay off their taxes.
I knew, however, that analysing from behind the desk will never compare to actually experiencing the culture so I worked for the family chemical factory. I worked in the laboratory, went out to the field with the sales department, experienced the different risks that employees face everyday, and interacted with customers. Slowly, I realized how even small solutions can help a company. Change like using new accounting software could clearly define accountabilities and optimize productivity of each department.
However, I wouldn’t have been able to think of these solutions without my undergraduate degree. Academics allowed me to formulate theoretical and conceptual frameworks by drawing out insights from theories, concepts, and models. I started understanding that data are useless unless I interpret them property. I also learned that learning SAS, STATA and R is important but even more important is knowing how all these skills may be used to assess a company’s financial conditions, how a single company’s financial condition can affect the regional economy, and how the regional economy affect the global economy.
Math, Economic, and Science are important concepts and many people know these. What I gained and my passion is beyond that, it is the faith, the ability, and the continuous pursuit to learn more on how these concepts may be used so that someday, when I walk around my neighbourhood, I will no longer see the shanties, beggars and hungry children in horizon.