Molly Zhu: Secondment in London

Molly Zhu is a Director in Financial Advisory in Hong Kong

Molly Zhu is a Director in Financial Advisory based in Hong Kong. She was on secondment in London from January to June 2023. Molly joined Lazard in 2014 from BNP Paribas Securities in Hong Kong. She received a master’s degree from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and a bachelor's degree in Finance & Banking from Guanghua School of Management, Peking University.

Lazard is well known, both internally and externally, for giving investment bankers opportunities for global mobility. In Vault’s 2023 Best Places to Work ranking, we ranked #1 in the category of Best Banking Firms for International Opportunities. We asked Molly a bit more about her secondment.

Why did you want to do a secondment in London?

I earned my master’s in the U.K. and, after graduating, I went back to Hong Kong to join the company where I completed my summer internship. I always had the desire to work and live in London, attracted by its historical and artistic charm, as well as its multicultural and metropolitan vibes. Therefore, when the secondment opportunity was made available to me, I jumped at the chance to work more closely with the team and experience living in London.

What do you believe are the benefits of Lazard’s secondment program?

I sat with the Healthcare team and had exposure to other diversified sector teams. I learned a lot from direct interactions with sector teams and contributed to the development of various pitches. Today, I feel much more connected to the team at a personal level, which enhanced our collaboration, and now I feel more comfortable picking up the phone and calling colleagues in London.

As we work on cross-border assignments, I am a more effective resource for the teams in both regions and that leads to better-informed insights and more effective ideas for our clients. I hope that I can also be a resource for teams in the United States and across Europe. Being able to work in London also gave me a new and direct perspective on global clients’ focus areas in a fast-changing market environment, in comparison to a singular view from the emerging market.

What advice would you give to people wanting to participate in the secondment program?

Most people outside of London, Paris and cities in the United States are generalists. I would recommend when people go to the hub offices they join a team that matches their core sector or product interests, so they can be fully immersed in a team culture. My secondment was five months and I would recommend staying longer to be even more integrated into the team, and potentially have the chance to join a deal’s full life cycle during the secondment.

On a personal level, think about the fun things that you like to do outside of work. Hopefully not all of your time will be spent in the office. For me, I enjoy gardening, painting and music. London not only offers non-stop artistic and seasonal events, but also it is an ideal hub to explore continental Europe, and everything felt as if it was at my doorstep. Among my small trips, I can still cheerfully recall how I indulged in arts and music in Vienna, and food and drinks in San Sebastian; and my heart was completely taken by the gracefully quiet and sleepy Venice in winter.

What was your favorite moment from the experience?

After months talking about the extended winter and classic gloomy weather in London, one morning the sky cleared up and turned crystal blue, and all the cherry blossom in my neighborhood burst into bloom as if touched by spring’s fingertips. London completely transformed from this old heavy city to a cheerful youngster with shining sparkles under the sun. And that was the moment that I felt so blessed and happy, though the electricity bill would still be high, there was sunshine and everything would be alright!

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