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How An International MBA Sparked A Move To A New Role At HBL Bank

How An International MBA Sparked A Move To A New Role At HBL Bank

Aneela Khan has taken a very different career path at HBL Bank Pakistan following her International MBA in China

Sponsored By
Renmin University of China School of Business
By Shannon Cook

When Aneela Khan was selected as one of two employees at Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan to receive a scholarship place at a top business school in China, she had no idea how much her career aspirations were about to change.

Aneela, a Pakistan native, had always been ambitious, which is why she applied for the rigorous MBA scholarship program hosted as a partnership between HBL—one of the largest banks in Pakistan—and China Development Bank.

At the time she applied, she was working as a regional business compliance manager.

Find out how an International MBA in China helped Aneela realize her true career ambitions in the finance world.

Embracing cultural change during an International MBA

The MBA scholarship program at HBL Bank allowed Aneela to pick from a selection of top business schools in China.

“I wasn’t familiar with these business schools but after researching, I knew the International MBA at Renmin was the right program for me.”

Renmin University of China’s Renmin Business School is based in the nation’s capital of Beijing—an international hub that’s as rich in culture as it is in business activity. 

The city’s three major sectors include finance, information technology, and scientific research/ technical services. 

While Aneela couldn’t speak the language, she wanted to get as immersed in the culture as she could.

“I was immediately struck by the mix of cultures at Renmin MBA, with classmates from across the globe, bringing different backgrounds and work experiences,” she says.

Enrolling in global business classes in China

Aneela was excited to find out that Renmin Business School is part of the Global Network For Advanced Management—an initiative that aims to connect students with top member schools including Yale School of Management, HEC Paris, and Berkeley Haas School of Business. 

This meant that she was able to take online business courses with Yale, complementing her Renmin International MBA courses such as Global Management, Global Leadership, and Corporate Social Responsibility. 

For Aneela, Creating Shared Values was one of the standout electives at Renmin.

“Before this course, I didn’t know much about creating shares values in relation to sustainability in business and focusing on the triple bottom line,” she says.

Her deep dive into these topics sparked a fascination in Aneela that she couldn’t ignore.

After finishing the International MBA in China and returning to her role at HBL Bank Pakistan, Aneela knew that her career path was about to change. 

She began working with the China Coverage Desk at HBL, where she got involved in client-facing projects with Chinese clients.

“As soon as I mentioned my MBA degree from Renmin, it helped me build a network and connection with Chinese clients,” she says.

Setting her sights on a career in HBL Zarai Services

With a new-found interest in sustainable business and development finance, Aneela began to get involved in projects at HBL's Development Finance function that would leverage her passion.

"From proof of concept to scale-up, the Development Finance function has successfully incubated agricultural related pilots," says Aneela.

As the idea of HBL creating a wholly owned subsidiary progressed, Aneela had the opportunity to work as a project manager where she was involved in setting up the company from the very start, which meant helping it go from securing approval to fully functioning registered company in December 2023. 

This was when HBL Zarai Services* was born. 'Zarai’ being the Urdu word for agriculture, the mission of the company is to provide access to essential resources and expertise. 

"HBL Zarai Services aims to empower farmers and enhance productivity, efficiency, and profitability throughout the agriculture value chain," explains Aneela.

HBL Zarai Services aims to put in place models to help small and medium-sized farmers improve crop yields, with agricultural experts on hand to provide agronomic advice and technical advisory.

“The concept has been discussed in the past, but for the first time, a financial institution has been granted permission to set up a non-financial services company like this. We are the pioneers,” she says proudly.

Before her International MBA in China, Aneela never imagined a career in agricultural extension services. However, her diverse learning experiences gained from business school in China made her realize that a purposeful career was the right direction for her.

“Through the work [HBL Zarai], which will focus on raising farm yields and empowering farmers by increasing their income levels which will promote food security nationwide,” she says. 

*HBL Zarai Services is a wholly owned non-financial subsidiary of HBL.

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