© Mr. Jockey Cheung
Judy Buckley '98
leadership helping solve Chinese banking puzzle
a safe bet that anyone eager to move from a bucolic city in
the American Midwest to a former Soviet Bloc dictatorship
has the psychological mettle to forge a career in the U.S.
this has proven true for Judy Buckley '98, who parlayed
her undergraduate journalism degree ('78) from the University
of Wisconsin into a profession that's advanced America's diplomatic
mission abroad. Today she serves as an economic and political
officer for the State Department in Hong Kong. This densely
populated Chinese city, with its frenetic economic activity
and its "one country, two systems" relationship with mainland
China, stands in contrast to Buckley's first Foreign Service
began more than a quarter century ago when, fresh out of college,
Buckley was "thrilled" at the prospect of relocating to Romania,
home to Dracula and the Ceausescu regime, and a country then
living behind the Iron Curtain.
is bliss," recalls the Kellogg School Executive MBA graduate.
"I was so ecstatic about leaving Madison that it didn't even
register what life would be like in Romania, until I got there."
the "really bleak" prospects of this initial foray, Buckley,
50, remained committed to her dream of traveling the world,
and subsequently found herself assigned to countries such
as Argentina and Ecuador.
love seeing other cultures and don't mind relocating every
three years, the Foreign Service can be a wonderful choice,"
in Hong Kong which ends this summer when she, her husband
(ex-FBI) and their 12-year-old daughter return to Washington,
D.C. has enabled her to explore the economic side of a job
that has always included a huge political component. She credits
her Kellogg School education with providing this "career-enhancing
opportunity" to work with Chinese banks, gaining competitive
intelligence that best serves U.S. investment.
includes researching and reporting on the banking situation
in Macau, the casino-rich islands some 40 miles from Hong
Kong. The work she and her colleagues do is important both
for educating American businesspeople launching ventures in
China and for their Chinese counterparts new to the rules
of a market-based system.
have much to learn, says Buckley.
she explains, American businesses "come in here almost blindly"
and fail to respect the intelligence or culture of the Chinese.
And too often the Chinese "pay only lip service" to the American
approach to commerce, especially in matters of intellectual
Asian economic juggernaut seems unstoppable Buckley says she
is "dumbstruck" by the new major cities on the mainland that
have "popped up overnight" the progress demands great oversight
as the Chinese and Americans dance with one another, sometimes
firms must understand the differences in the Chinese culture
which reflects a passive 'life-is-what-happens-to-you' view
of the world, as opposed to the proactive 'life-is-what-you-make-of-it'
view of Western culture," says Buckley.
their part, Chinese bankers can benefit from understanding
how fiduciary trust serves the greater economic engine.
put my money into a mainland China bank right now," says Buckley.
"Maybe in 10 or 15 years, but today there is still a lot of
bankers want to be industry players and participate in the
stock exchange, but Buckley says they are still learning how
to do this. For now, Hong Kong banks, operating as they do
under the rule of law, remain the ones that attract foreign
capital and "pave the way into the mainland" for these investors.
the complicated economic and political context of Hong Kong,
Buckley says the commercial climate there is good for U.S.
business, particularly those looking for local partners who
can facilitate mainland transactions. Still, companies seeking
to expand in China must do their homework first and send their
wouldn't hurt to learn the language, she advises.
is the toughest market because you encounter international
competition, plus the Chinese themselves [can present unique
cultural challenges] to a Westerner," Buckley says.
task for U.S. firms is ensuring that their Chinese personnel
understand Western interpretations of such concepts as accountability,
fairness, honesty and efficiency, she says.
company is to survive here, the challenge is not simply to
teach certain business techniques, but to use business techniques
to change the way the Chinese view their jobs and the world
in general," notes Buckley. "The truth is, a successful company,
a prosperous economy and a just political system share the
same cultural foundation of accountability, meritocracy and
in China, the road to equality looks long and difficult. Although
the nation's 620 million women have enjoyed formal equality
since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, they still
face widespread discrimination "even graduates from top universities,"
herself faced traditional gender hurdles, such as exclusion
from networks and senior leadership roles, but employed strategies
to combat the situation, including building a track record
in her functional area to establish credibility; developing
leadership skills within the organization by demonstrating
effective people management; and seeking out difficult and
highly visible assignments.
turned to the Kellogg EMBA program and the school's Center
for Executive Women's leadership programming to gain a professional
looks back on a long career in the Foreign Service, she reflects
on the dynamics between economics and politics. "Business
probably does more to help spread democracy than any other
part of society," she says. "It facilitates the cultural change
necessary for a society to become truly free.
this transition and convince people that they have the power
to improve their lives, a U.S. firm must appeal to that which
is fundamentally most important to them: the food on their
table and the roof over their heads."
to Elise Wetzel '92
to Success Stories