An understanding of Chinese culture vital to doing business there - intern

To really understand China you need to travel there and experience the vibrant culture and rapidly changing society firsthand says business intern Jack Montgomerie. Jack interned for three months with ANZ in Sichuan's capital, Chengdu.
Jack and a colleague sitting in front of a pond in a traditional-style Chinese garden

Jack says making friends with colleagues at ANZ exposed him to parts of the city and Chinese culture that he would otherwise have missed out on

To anyone interested in understanding the significance of China as a trade partner or as a global economic power, my suggestion is to go there in person.

You need to feel the culture shock full force, to be blown away by the contrasting tech-fueled yet deeply cultured and traditional way of life. You need to experience China’s exhilarating source of vibrant energy and the true sense of domestic ambition for success.

I was fortunate to experience all of this during my internship with ANZ Chengdu over China’s summer, while developing my banking experience.

Interning for ANZ within China is a great opportunity for students who are looking to pursue commerce-related careers in or based on China. Highlights included being exposed to most underlying functions of the ANZ bank, learning about Australasian financial risk and compliance requirements and, importantly, developing an understanding of the complex Chinese regulatory environment.

This was my second time in Chengdu, the previous time being in 2018. In just one year, however, I noticed small differences that suggested big change.

During my first time in Chengdu I opened a Chinese bank account and many shops had cash on hand to give as change. This time it was WeChat, WeChat, WeChat! And Alipay.

WeChat and Alipay are huge here and ever increasing as a method of payment. In Chengdu I'd say nearly one hundred percent of people would pay through either of these methods. This is just one example of China's superior tech infrastructure, far beyond the likes of USA, New Zealand and Australia. Perhaps Japan and South Korea get close. 

As an intern, I had amazing exposure to the senior staff within the organisation, many of whom I now call friends. I was assigned a mentor who answered any questions I had, provided guidance on my development and who read through my weekly mandatory reports.

I rotated through many banking divisions, including foreign payment processing, specific China and Hong Kong payment processes, home loan credit assessment, and supporting ANZ Chengdu finance, risk and compliance departments.

While some weeks were intense, others were easier and I could spend time, for example, completing mandatory ANZ internal tests or understanding the structure of the ANZ group and the presence of foreign banks in China.

Chengdu is the capital of China’s south-western Sichuan Province. The city offers a more relaxed setting compared to the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, yet has rapid economic growth and immense potential as an access way to the developing western regions of China.

A place of deep culture and world famous spicy cuisine, great night life, and wonderful locals, the experiences you can have within the city add to the internship experience.

I regularly had dinner with Chinese colleagues who were so welcoming and eager to develop in me a true appreciation of Chinese culture and way of life. This also made settling into life in Chengdu very easy, reducing reliance on my limited language skills and knowledge of the city while exposing me the most authentic places. Making friends with work colleagues also allowed me improve my cultural and language awareness in a comfortable environment.

 An internship at ANZ Chengdu is a phenomenal opportunity to be exposed to banking operations in a very different environment. It will increase one’s resilience, produce a more rounded mindset and provide opportunity to make valuable friends and connections.

The experience has reaffirmed my appreciation for Chinese culture, an understanding of which is vital element to successful interaction with the Chinese economy.