Empathy in business

Alumni Close-Up: Jasmeet Singh Gujral

By Matthew Biddle

Photo: Tom Wolf

At UB, Jasmeet Singh Gujral, MS ’12, frequently worked with students from around the world — perfect training for a career that’s found him on global teams and relocating 7,000 miles away.

“Seventy-five percent of my job is how I relate to people, and the foundation of that started at the School of Management,” says Gujral, online banking manager for HSBC in Hong Kong, the bank’s largest market. “I learned empathy wins everything. And, while that may sound altruistic, it’s also the greatest business strategy. If you know what someone’s going through and how your words will affect them, you can work better in tandem and accomplish more.”

After growing up in India and earning a bachelor’s in engineering from the University of Pune, Gujral wanted to continue his studies in the U.S. and chose the School of Management’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems program. On top of his coursework, Gujral gained hands-on experience with data analytics in UB’s International Admissions Office.

“That project was my introduction to the entire process of improving how you manage information in an organization,” Gujral says. “We came in, analyzed how they managed international student information, recommended a better solution, developed it, tested it and delivered it. Everyone in business needs to do that at some point.”

Gujral earned his master’s in 2012 and accepted an internship in information systems at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Again, he evaluated the center’s existing information management system, recommended a better solution and created it.

“I was able to implement what I learned at UB, and that was so exciting to me,” he says. “Afterward, I was so confident in anything I wanted to do.”

His next step took him to Citibank’s quantitative equity research team and then to HSBC, where he was named assistant vice president and digital product manager. His team oversaw the company’s digital banking platform in the U.S., including its website and mobile presence.

Gujral was most proud to play a key role in the initiative to introduce a new U.S. credit card account opening solution, transforming the process from a paper or phone application and 30-day decision cycle, to an online application and instant decision.

“The best part of my job is that I can use all of my energy and skills,” he says. “I’m constantly thinking about new innovations and how things can be done differently. On a day-to-day basis, 70-80 percent of my job is identifying problems and solving them using my skills.”

Last August, Gujral was appointed to his current role, managing online banking platforms for HSBC in Hong Kong. It’s a challenge he eagerly took on.

“In Hong Kong, HSBC dominates the banking market and earns more than half of its global profits. It’s such a big deal to me to be part of an organization that’s so respected here,” says Gujral, who hopes to take a C-level banking position or lead his own startup someday. “I have always wanted to be globally mobile, and if I keep moving and gaining exposure to different cultures and markets that will help me move up the chain quicker.”

Outside the office, Gujral plays rugby for HKCC club, volunteers every week to help kids with their English skills in a school for visually impaired children, and is cultivating a new passion: filmmaking. Before moving last summer, he produced an emotional silent film, “Father,” about two fathers — an American and a Syrian — who share more in common than they initially realize.

The film’s theme? Empathy.