Alumni Newsroom

Is the grass greener on the other side?

The reasons why employees return to J.P. Morgan are just as diverse and personal as their reasons for leaving. Kathleen Kong, Vice President, Corporate & Investment Bank Operations, shares her experience. 

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

In 2011, having spent 1.5 years with the firm, I resigned and took on an external opportunity at a competitor bank, as the role I was interested in did not exist at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong a decade ago. When I left I simply thought I was going to enjoy the "greener grass on the other side." However, what I learned from this experience was important. For me, a happy and successful career depends on like-minded colleagues, bosses and stakeholders; and a great company culture and work environment.  Having experienced different pastures, I can only say no organization is perfect and no job is perfect. In hindsight, I'd say the question we should ask—when it comes to career decisions—is: What brings job satisfaction and fulfillment?

Has anything changed since you left?

Thankfully, I was given a chance to return to J.P. Morgan in 2018. And this time, I started to appreciate things that I once took for granted. 

After my departure, I had different opportunities to acquire new skills, try different things and expand my horizons. I am proud of my personal development and I was ready to apply what I have learned outside when I returned.  I didn't expect J.P. Morgan to have  changed and evolved—for the better!

One thing that really stands out is how our firm shows appreciation and recognition to employees. I don't remember anything about Employee Appreciation Week before my departure, but I really enjoyed the one this year. In addition, I find it great that our firm prioritizes our well-being, and it is not a "nice to have."

Many of us have been impacted both personally and professionally at different levels as we endure this pandemic. The firm and our leadership team reacted quickly, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. 

The Hong Kong Leadership team provided tremendous support to us: timely and transparent updates (through emails and town halls); provision of surgical masks when the global supply was tight, extra days off to deal with personal and family matters; an Employee Assistance Program—these are just a few examples of the firm's effort in seeing us throughout this trying time. Not to mention that APAC was the first region to respond to this pandemic without a playbook. I truly see the firm's commitment to its employees.

Did you explore all possibilities before making the decision to re-join?

What I have also learned is that if the core problem is not addressed, it will just re-surface in different ways no matter where you work. It is really down to you. It is your attitude as well as that of the people you work with that will help overcome the problem.

I also want to say leaving is not the only solution to a problem though it may appear as the easiest. My personal advice to anyone who is going through a rough patch and thinking to leave is to ensure that you have exhausted all avenues internally before you make the decision. Given the size and scale of our business, it should not be impossible to find something that is a better fit than your current role.

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