Our members first met Mr. Raymond Chun at a C3 Leadership Conference and we were deeply touched by his motivational keynote speech. Hoping to learn more about his life and success stories, we reached out to him for an interview, which he so graciously agreed to do. Our members were once again blown away by his inspirational and insightful stories on the day of the interview. We would like to share those precious moments with all of you.
We understand you've gone through many important positions in TD. What is your secret to the successful promotions?
When you first enter the workforce, regardless of industry, what matters the most is your performance, how you actually do the job; next would be the personality. Are you passionate? Are you optimistic? Do you think and care about your teammates? These questions matter greatly in the beginning.
If you perform well with good personality, you can be promoted very quickly. When you finally become a senior, you will quickly realize that every single one of you has the competence and the right personality. Then, the question now becomes what differentiates the future executives in any organizations. Your relationship management with the people becomes critical. What matters is if you have built great relationships with people throughout the organization; equally important is your ability to influence people. The higher you advance in any company, the more important it becomes that you influence the people do not directly report to you; for example, you will have to influence marketing, compliance, legal, and different channels of distribution. That is an incredibly valuable skill, in which you must learn as a business executive.
There is also the decision to make important decisions. You must be able to trust in your judgement with limited knowledge. When you make a mistake you must admit it and ask for help. Integrity is critical because once you lose your integrity, you are no longer a leader.
Every single person has his/her personal brand at work. Everything you choose to do or not to do is a reflection of your personal brand. Just like corporate brands, it is usually hard to change people’s image of brands once it has been established. The younger professionals should understand that the personal brand has been formulated the day they began with their companies.
Can you provide specific examples or tips that what we can do to guard that brand? Do you have a specific example you live by?
You have to understand and learn people’s actual perception of your brand. Most of people think their brand image is fantastic. They usually have not taken the time to ask other people to give an honest and open feedback.
Many mentors inside the bank certainly helped me along the way. Regardless of the working environment, you need mentors in the organization who can take some time to sit down with you. No matter how excellent you think you are, without such guidance, you are likely to select an inefficient path. You need people to take a hold of you and bring you back. Find great mentors and listen to them closely. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is that they do not listen to the great mentors they have finally found.
My mentors gave me a realistic perception of my brand. They would approach 6 people to talk about me. Not just the people that loved me, but also the people who did not. They would come back with a laundry list that I could improve on, which I would have never, ever imagined. This is what you need when you try to manage your brand; the feedback, or the true perception which is the reality.
The challenge sometimes is that when you become a senior of the organization, no one would prefer to tell you the truth. For me, even in this position, I still have a coach; I have that individual interview with everyone that directly reports me. Without saying names or anything, I just get the feedback whether I am doing well or what my executive team would like to see me improve on. I am constantly looking for feedback, a real one.
Faculty of commerce or business students, though with much potential are often overwhelmed by the broad possible career paths that lie ahead of them. What can they do to align themselves with a career?
There are two groups of graduates from university; one group just knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives, because they have a certain passion. But the vast majority of us, the second group, have lack such burning passion yet. I encourage them to reach out to people, volunteer, and learn about different organizations. Upon graduation, focus less on applying for different positions, but more on getting into the company you want to be a part of in the future. People tend to put heavy emphasis on specific types of jobs, and realize that they need experience in variety of different roles. So what does it matter what order you hit it? You’re going to have to cover all of those roles over the course of your career to get to a senior executive, or CEO of a company. In some point of your career, you will need to familiarize yourself with all of the different positions to get to a higher position. Find an organization to fits your personal vision, and your passion will beckon.
Korean Canadian students are struggling with the current job market, and they are wondering if it’d be a good career choice to find a job in Korea as a North American. What is your take on that? Do you recommend it, or should they be investing their time here?
It will ultimately depend on where it is that you want to reside for a long term basis. If you do work in Korea, it’s important that you try to pick an organization that is global, so that you are connected to people in North America. Create a great brand for yourself, and figure out how you will stay connected and how to obtain a ticket back. If the company is only a Korea-based company, and if you are going to live in Korea, that’s not a problem- however if you plan to return to North America at some point, make sure that people are going to give value for the work you have done in Korea. If no one validates your hard work, all you’ve done is increase the pool of people you are going to compete against; you will have the young university graduates, and you will have lost few years compared to your classmates.
What is your long term goal or vision as an executive of a corporation?
As leaders of any organizations, you have a responsibility to build the organization that is will be stronger when you leave than when you got there. As leaders, you need to ensure that you are nurturing the future leaders of tomorrow. There is no better way to leave the company than to provide new leaders who are even greater than you are. It doesn’t matter what organization you are in, you need to have the discipline around grooming and developing the future leaders to guarantee the sustainable success of the company. If I can make this happen, to me, it would be my greatest achievement. When I retire one day, I want to be able to see young people working hard and making impactful decisions and say, ‘I was a small part of that success.’ To me, that would be the most rewarding part of my career, and I would be able to retire with my vision fulfilled, knowing that I did a good job.
About Raymond Chun
E.M.B.A – Queen’s University
B.A. - University of Western Ontario
Started with TD Bank Financial Group in 1992. Held positions in various businesses within TDBFG, including National Manager for TD Waterhouse Private Client Services, Vice President TD Canada Trust E-Bank Operations, District Vice-President for TD Canada Trust and most recently his appointment to Senior Vice President for Pacific Region in the summer of 2008.
Born in Korea and raised in Ontario. Married to Karen, they have 2 young children, daughter Madison and son Cameron.
Enjoys volleyball, golf and skiing.
Interview Date : March 23, 2011
Interviewers: Chris Heebum Lee, Sierra Lee, Alice Kim
Editors: Chris Heebum Lee, Jason Park
*All photos have been approved by Raymond Chun
The views expressed in the interviews are not necessarily reflective of JoinTheLeaders' opinion.