Choong Yu Lum has worked for Citi in four countries, now he’s growing the Cards business in Australia
Citi Australia's Head of Cards and Loans, Choong Yu Lum, is a shining example of the benefits of global mobility. Since joining the bank 17 years ago, Choong Yu has worked across four markets in nine different roles.
Choong Yu’s global career began after a six-month secondment from Malaysia to the US. Since then, he has built an international network and learned to quickly adapt to new cultures and ways of working. “With every new market you need to reset yourself, relearn your skills and look for new opportunities,” he says.
This kind of international exposure is not unusual for a career at Citi. As a global bank, Citi rewards people by giving them access to a wide range of opportunities, both local and international. While moving around the globe is popular with employees, there are many other options, including job rotations, shorter stints overseas, and moving across business lines within the same country. “What type and how much mobility they want is up to the individual. Mobility is an option, but it’s not forced upon us,” says Choong Yu.
Expanding the cards business within Australia
A major benefit of mobility is that when talented people move across business lines and geographies, they can transfer their skills from product to product and from country to country. This is particularly relevant in Australia, where Choong Yu is now leading the charge to grow Citi’s cards and loans business and future-proof Citi for a world that will soon be largely digital.
According to Choong Yu, Citi products resonate well in Australia because the market and its customers are some of the most digitally-savvy users in the world and are constantly pushing for innovation. For example, the Australian market has responded particularly well to mobile payments, and the majority of people prefer to interact with their bank digitally. It’s this appetite for innovation that allows Citi to grow its products through partnering with a strong digital ecosystem.
Citi’s focus on innovation and digital products has meant that it continues to increase its share of a credit market that is otherwise declining, primarily due to “buy now pay later” payment options and lower consumer appetite to take on debt. In response to these Australian trends, Citi has increased its options for flexible instalment plans and continues to build upon its strong partnerships, which have been a pillar of its value proposition for more than 20 years. Citi is currently Australia’s largest white-label credit card provider, partnering with leading brands such as Kogan, Qantas, Virgin Money, and Coles.
Interested in joining Citi’s cards business?
As Choong Yu looks to the future, he sees plenty of scope to grow Citi’s credit card business and says he is always looking for “strong talent”. Candidates who join Citi will get the opportunity to work for a global bank, but focus on products that are targeted to the unique Australian market and then potentially launched in countries across the world.
When looking for potential new hires, Choong Yu has a tried-and-tested checklist. “Finding candidates with technical skills is easy, but we are looking for people with business know-how in the real world. Understanding how to use digital skills to serve customers is an ongoing and evolving challenge. The ability to link technical skills to our goal of best serving our customers is crucial when looking for talent to join our team,’’ he says.