The large-scale shift to telework brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting businesses around the world to explore new avenues to engage with clients and friends. Harris Sliwoski is no exception, and we are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench.

In Episode #39, we are joined by Nadia Lazareva, a senior manager at HSBC in Hong Kong. We discuss:

  • Nadia’s path from her native Russia to Hong Kong
  • Why learning Mandarin is a great investment
  • What working at a large international bank like HSBC is like
  • Nadia’s advice to women and girls thinking of a career in banking
  • Why there is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”
  • Finding the right balance between motherhood and work
  • What a typical day looks like for a compliance officer at HSBC
  • The role of risk in career-building

Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:

  • Nadia: My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Fred: Suspected Chinese spy targeted California politicians (Axios), by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Zach Dorman
  • Jonathan: To Stop China’s Imperial Designs, Let It Bleed Itself Dry (The Federalist), by Sumantra Maitra

We’ll see you next week when we sit down with Matt Plavan, CEO of Arcadia Biosciences.


This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  0:08 

Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Sliwoski International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort


Jonathan Bench  0:37 

and I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We covered the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.


Fred Rocafort  1:02 

We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.


Nadia Lazareva is a qualified lawyer with a background in risk management, anti money laundering, compliance sanctions and reputational risk prevention. She has lived and worked in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2009. And has trained extensively in the areas noted above, across Asia Pacific. She now works at HSBC, Nadia, welcome to the podcast.


Nadia Lazareva  1:46 

Hi, everyone


Jonathan Bench  1:48 

Nadia, you originally from Russia, but had been in Hong Kong for quite a while. Can you tell us about the path that took you to where you are?


Nadia Lazareva  1:56 

Absolutely. Thanks, Jonathan. I was born and raised in Russia in Moscow. And after I graduated from law school in Moscow, I wanted to go abroad. And at that point, most people living on the in the west of Russia would go to Germany or France or the UK. But I have been studying Mandarin for a couple of years by then. So it seemed like a good idea to try and do things a little bit differently and go to the east. So I ended up in Shanghai doing a Mandarin course for a year. And throughout the year, I’ve visited Hong Kong and I realized that this is probably one of the most magnificent places that I have ever been to I was absolutely fascinated by the city by the mixture of green and crazy areas and the skyline and the business life there. So I’ve started looking for opportunities to move to Hong Kong. And I have to admit that it took me a while because at first I applied to do my master’s degree there, and then wasn’t admitted because my English wasn’t good enough to do that. So I spent another six months looking for jobs. And I ended up finding a job with a small Russian consultancy firm in Hong Kong. And yeah, so now it’s been 10 years, I never thought I would stay for 10 years. But so far, it’s a really interesting place to be.


Jonathan Bench  3:28 

Not bad, not bad. I had to test you. Because a lot of people, a lot of foreigners don’t take the time to learn Cantonese if they end up in southeast China. So kudos to you. So a lot of fun to hear that. And I used to get mistaken for a Russian when I was in China, I would I would speak Mandarin. And they would say, Where are you from? I’d say what you guess? They say you’re Russian, right? And I said no. I said, Why do you think I’m Russian? They said because I had a big nose? I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. But that was always how the conversation went. Right? It was they went to the big nose and said, We know you’re Westerner but you definitely are Russian. I think I think the big nose was because I was a Westerner and the Chinese was because I was Russian was because I was Chinese right? I was speaking Chinese. So I think that I took it as a compliment. And rushing has always been on my list of languages to learn. So I might as well try and make it formal at some point and spend some time learning.


Nadia Lazareva  4:20 

Yeah, big nose is a very interesting is a very interesting comment. I’ve had that common being said, not to my face. But for example, I would be on a train in front of a couple of people. And then I would hear them discussing that I have a big nose. So at first I thought it was unpleasant, but actually later I realized that maybe it is a compliment and I should be proud of my nose.


Jonathan Bench  4:45 

That’s great. And so I’m very curious about your time learning Chinese. I mean, Fred and I have studied China and you know, politically, linguistically for quite a while. And so we love other other China enthusiasts. So why did you start? Why did you pick Mandarin to start studying? Was it just did someone encourage you to do that, like a professor or a teacher? Or did you say, Well, I want to be engaged with the outside world, and what’s the up and coming language, you know, and country that I should be involved with.


Nadia Lazareva  5:16 

I think my approach was actually absolutely driven by practicality. So about three years or four years before I moved to Shanghai, I started going to trade fairs. And I would go with small Russian businesses to help them translate from English into Russian. And very quickly, on my first trip, I realized that you don’t go very far in China, if you can only speak English from, you know, details like ordering something into your room or getting about to actually being able to speak to the people who own factories who are engaging in the business with the people you’re coming with. So I’ve started learning Mandarin, as, as I went back to Moscow, I started learning in order to be able to get around China and connect with Chinese businessmen to a greater extent. And this has proven to be a great investment. Because even though I didn’t, of course, become fluent in six months, or a year, because I don’t think anyone can do it with Mandarin. But it has given this great sense of freedom that you can actually, you know, take a train, go where you need to be, and not be stopped by the fact that you’re unable to communicate.


Fred Rocafort  6:31 

One thing that I neglected to mention during my introduction, is that Nadia was my classmate at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. That’s where we first met in the city. And this is a good lead up to to my next question, which has to do with the experience of working at a large world class organization, like, like HSBC, I think that for me, at least, it is fair to say that HSBC has been very closely intertwined with with my time in Hong Kong, that’s where I did my banking, I still have my bank accounts there. There might be other examples out there. But it’s hard for me to think of another financial institution that is, as synonymous really, with with Hong Kong with a particular place, as as HSBC is with with Hong Kong, a lot of that has to do of course, with the history the lions outside the headquarters building, that that whole story. And for me, literally, I had to I had to walk through one of the HSBC buildings in Kowloon to get to the metro every day, my commute literally took me through an HSBC building. So with that being said, At least tell us about your experience working at the bank.


Nadia Lazareva  7:47 

For me, I have to admit that I’m, I’m a big fan of HSBC, and I think a lot of people in relation to the corporate world, perhaps either love it or hate it. For me, I every time I say that I work for HSBC, I do feel a small thing of pride, because in Hong Kong, it is the bank. If you’re talking to anyone who is local. In Hong Kong, you don’t say work for HSBC, you say I work for the Hong Kong bank. It is the institution that the main financial institution in the jurisdiction, and so many things are built around it. For me, I think HSBC has given me a number of things that would have been much more challenging to get elsewhere. I think the first thing, the most interesting part are the people you get to work with, because particularly in Hong Kong, particularly in the area where I work, it is extremely diverse. So the team I used to sit in with had 10 or 12 analysts and we would have probably 10 different passports sitting in the same room. And this diversity of thought of backgrounds, for me was very stimulating, because this was exactly the environment I would be hoping to work in as I’m living and working abroad. And another thing is understanding how the financial system operates. Because as Fred mentioned, I’m a lawyer by background so I have never previously worked in anything related to finance. And then day by day very slowly unpacking what does a huge international financial institution do is actually very fascinating if you don’t have that kind of background. And the third thing, which I think is unique about a large international organization, is the mobility because you are quite encouraged to move horizontally. So you are very welcome to apply for jobs in London or New York or Jersey or Vietnam, any jurisdiction where your skill set would be applicable. It’s quite encouraging to go and move there. And in addition to that there is mobility in terms of functions. So if you’re a compliance person, but you have interests you have curiosity to try something else. Chances are that gradually by building up your network, by expanding your skill set, you would be able to get there, you could gradually try yourself in other risk functions or in business functions. So you have an opportunity to have several careers without actually leaving the organization.


Jonathan Bench  10:40 

So what advice would you give to women and girls in our audience who might be thinking of a career in banking,


Nadia Lazareva  10:46 

I think the main piece of advice would be, just go for it. I think these days, the banks have a lot of motivation to build up their female talent, there is a huge drive for having more diversity, for building more inclusive environments. So I think we are very lucky to be here. And now because actually, being a younger female, probably helps you to get more out of your career with financial institutions compare to a couple of years ago, I think for women, especially for young women, sometimes we lack confidence, and we are not sure we’ve got something to bring to the table. So something that took me a very long time to learn and understand that, that it doesn’t matter how senior is the meeting I’m sitting in, nobody else at the table has gone through the same experience in their careers, as I did. So even though some of those people could be much more senior, much more experienced, much more advanced in banking, there’s high likelihood that I know things that they wouldn’t have thought of. So this ability to speak up ability to enunciate your thoughts and present them at the table, I think, for me is key because I often meet young women who are afraid of coming across as incompetent. And I think it’s more common among women than among men because of our upbringing and some of the social factors. So I always admire girls who go in there and speak their mind without considering the seniority or the status of other people, especially in Asian environments like Hong Kong, it would be quite common for hierarchy to limit the ability to speak up. But those who are able to overcome it, I think, tend to go a very long way.


Jonathan Bench  12:50 

It’s interesting, it’s taken me a lot of years in my professional career to get comfortable saying, I don’t know the answer to that question, or I don’t know, I need to look into it more. It’s not something that’s bred into us in law school. It’s something that you really learn as being part of kind of a functional business environment, where people know you have some experience and some expertise. But there’s no way that you’ll know everything. I think, you know, sharing your experience, and just telling people about that, and saying, there will be times when you need to say I don’t know. And and it’s completely okay to do that. And we certainly as peers shouldn’t point our fingers at others when when they say they don’t know, because there’s no way that we will all have the same experience in the same depth in every area.


Nadia Lazareva  13:33 

I absolutely agree. And I think in the end this ability to say, I don’t know, or I need to, I need to research that leads us to working in more competent, more confident teams, because people are not afraid of making mistakes or double checking, and there’s no encouragement to kind of talk your way through an issue you actually don’t know nothing about. I think it’s great when we can avoid those lengthy conversations about something really unsubstantiated.


Jonathan Bench  14:04 

I always have Fred double check my work. I just assumed that it’s going to be wrong, and he’ll fix what’s wrong with it. Right, Fred?


Nadia Lazareva  14:11 

You’re very lucky to have Fred.


Jonathan Bench  14:13 

I know, I know.


Fred Rocafort  14:14 

Well, thank you, Nadia, that is reassuring to know that that’s the way I came across to people that I’ve met in the in the past. Speaking of young women, you are a single mother to an adorable little girl. Unfortunately, I have only been able to see her on Facebook, hopefully before too long. And before she grows too much, I’ll have a chance to meet her in person. But I’d like to ask you about how successful have you been at finding an appropriate balance between your career and taking care of your daughter?


Nadia Lazareva  14:50 

My view on being a single mom is if there is a good place in the world to do that. That’s actually Hong Kong. And actually, if there was a perfect time for that situation, it could be 2020. And I, you know, talking about this year, this is, we rarely give it praise. But what I find is in Hong Kong, it is affordable to have full time live in help. So usually for someone working, even at a fairly junior level in the banking industry, the salary of your full time help would probably be about 10-15% of your total income. So it is much lower proportion of your household income compared to Western countries. So most, most women who work have this ability to have help. And I think it’s an absolute game changer because one thing is having childcare. But another thing is having childcare, who could look after your child, if you if you want to go out for dinner, who could look after your child if you want to go work out. So you’re not just you don’t just have two elements of your life, which is work and a child. But you also have an ability to have some time for yourself, which is where, which is absolutely key for your mental health, your personal development, and basically not just going insane when you’re really, really busy. And in terms of 2020, I think this year has brought us so much flexibility, at least here in Hong Kong, in HSBC, the flexible working now has an absolutely new meaning before Hong Kong was not the most accepting place in terms of flexible working, some teams would practice it, some teams won’t. But these days, because it’s a necessity, this is just how things go. It’s absolutely appropriate. And as you develop in your flexible working, you start figuring out how to move your hours around because many of us have late night calls with different time zones, you start figuring out how to carve out maybe an hour before lunch to play with your kid. Because you can start earlier you can finish later. So I feel like I’m actually in charge of my time to much greater extent than I would have been a couple of years ago. And this is very inspiring. This means that I I am the one who can decide when I’m doing work and when I’m seeing my child and how to reconcile the two areas of my life.


Jonathan Bench  17:37 

So let’s talk about the bank specifically, what do you do there you work in compliance, but can you tell us kind of day to day what things you’re dealing with? What is your clientele composed of and where are they in the world?


Nadia Lazareva  17:49 

The compliance function in HSBC is probably the largest compliance function in the world. And it is very diverse in terms of different teams, different functionalities. So we do have people looking after regulatory requirements, we have very big teams looking at financial crime element because of the mere size of the bank’s operations. I sit within financial crime. And within financial crime team, I am working on the proactive risk mitigation side, which means that my job consists of looking for emerging trends, and then analyzing how those trends could potentially affect criminal behavior, and how this could reflect in HSBC books. So this is a very unique position for the bank, and not many financial institutions in the world, have those teams who are looking at things proactively. So it’s a very, it’s a fairly new fairly niche space. And I would say that it’s extremely interesting. So an example of a piece of work that I could have been doing would be RCP. So the recent economic partnership agreement signed between 15 states in Asia, my job would be to have a look, what does the agreement actually entail? How does it change the environment those countries operate in? And then for each of the undertaking of that agreement, see? How could it change the financial crime behavior? So if the tariffs are being lowered or simplified? What can we see in the customs area do we expect to see less bribery, more bribery, bribery going around in a different way? And so for everything that happens externally, this is the type of analysis that I would be conducting, which keeps you on your toes in terms of developments across the world. Of course, I focus much more on Asia Pacific than the rest of the world. But also everything is relevant. And at the same time, it helps you learn a lot about how the bank operates because my stakeholders Michael Intel are the compliance people who need to make sure our controls are appropriate. And then also senior management across the bank who needs to make a higher level of macro level decisions. And as you are tailoring your products, your reports, your briefs, to that group of people, you need to make sure that you understand what is the bank doing. If I’m talking about the risk in Vietnam, I need to know, what does the bank look in Vietnam, with lines of business do we have? What products do we have? How big is the customer base? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to give every commendation that’s specific enough for my stakeholder to actually consider it or take it on board.


Fred Rocafort  20:44 

Just a quick follow up question, people on your team? Do you have specific geographical areas that you focus on? Or are you looking perhaps, at particular industries? Or is there a more random distribution of the workload?


Nadia Lazareva  21:01 

We actually have a mixture of those, so everybody on the team would have a focus. So for most people, it would be a geography plus a subject matter expertise. So for example, you would have somebody who is looking at everything India, plus at everything, human trafficking, and this wouldn’t mean that the person is looking at human trafficking in India, it would just be two streams of work, the persons responsible for to ensure those areas are covered. For me, I have been focusing on the Belt and Road initiative from the perspective of funds going out of mainland China into the rest of the world, and large infrastructure projects.


Fred Rocafort  21:45 

So clearly, risk assessments are a big part of what you do. But I’d like to now while sticking to the subject of risk, I’d like to turn the lens back to you and ask you about your biggest risk, what is the biggest risk that that you’ve taken in your career? And perhaps you could you could specifically address those folks out there that might be considering a risky move, what are what are some of the advice that you would give them based on on your own experiences?


Nadia Lazareva  22:17 

I think the biggest risk I have ever taken is moving from a position of a team leader in a smaller firm, where it was well regarded and I felt like I’m doing really well, I’m contributing to the business a lot. So I left that job and went to work for an international law firm in a most junior role in the risk management team. And the reason why I say it was a risk, because in my in my team leader role. I felt like I was really good at what I’ve been doing. Because I’ve been doing it for some time, I had great report with my team, I had great report with my bosses. So I was thriving. And the only reason for me to make the move was to experience what it’s like working for an international law firm. So I kind of gave up all of that environment that I’ve been working in, and that feeling of being good at what you do, to go into something completely unknown. And being somebody very junior and having a number of people in the team tell you what to do. And so I think if I’m being open about it and transparent about it, the transition wasn’t easy. Because I’ve I’ve missed being a manager, I’ve missed getting things done. So I’ve moved from getting things done to, you know, doing research for somebody else who would make a decision. But at the same time, the experience of working for Magic Circle law firm, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change it for the world, largely because if I haven’t tried it, I would have probably still looking for that opportunity to try a magic circle firm because for somebody who’s a lawyer by background spend so much time studying law and English legal system, those types of firms are your, your dream place. Unless especially if you if you’ve never worked for one you’re imagining it to be a kind of a paradise or maybe it’s just me, but I was completely romanticizing how things work. So thing having been inside the firm, he just learned that you know, it is it is great, but it’s also very similar to any other firm in the world. It’s not the Hogwarts or Harry Potter environment where things are completely different. I think that move also has it has affected me financially because I took a small pay cut and usually when you do that, it takes a few years to go back to where you used to be. But at the same time, I still, I still think it’s been, it’s been worth doing that.


Jonathan Bench  25:09 

I’m picturing you showing up at the magic circle law firm and saying what you promised me magic? Where is the magic people? Right?


Nadia Lazareva  25:17 

I think that’s exactly what was going on in my head is like, Oh, okay.


Jonathan Bench  25:22 

Well, you raised a great point, which is, you know, we go to law school, as well as who are lawyers, we go to law school, we think, you know, it’s going to be one way. And often it’s very, very different. I tell this to law students who I talk to all the time, when they want career advice about how to become an international business lawyer. And then of course, you raise the interesting question of, if you’re at a law firm, and you’re happy, you’re doing well, you know, small, firm, big firm, when do you transition to a more, you know, in house role? Or do you stick with a law firm life? I mean, it’s the kind of thing that I think all of us kick around from time to time, which is, you know, how happy am I will I be happier somewhere else? And I think that’s a function of a lot of different things. But I think that a lot of us think about that, right? We process it and say, well, what’s my satisfaction here? And am I more likely to have a good experience somewhere else, I always find myself checking my gut on that. I love what I do now, at our firm and, and it’s hard to think of where I would be more happy doing the kind of work we’re doing. And Fred and I get to do this podcast as part of our work. And and it’s a lot of fun, right? We get to connect with our old friends, we get to meet a lot of people from around the world. And it’s the kind of quality of life thing that you can’t really quantify. So if you were to start over again, would you choose a different path? Would you have made any different decisions?


Nadia Lazareva  26:34 

That’s a great question. Because if I look at my career path, objectively, as an outsider, I did quite a number of things that were unnecessary. So if you were to look at my CV, it might be a little bit shocking, because I do have four law degrees, which is ridiculous. If you ever meet anyone with four law degrees, please introduce me because this would probably be my soulmate. So as I was very keen on becoming a lawyer, and first I had the Russian law degree, because that’s where I studied, and the German. So I had Russian baselayers, and the masters from Germany, because there was just a good opportunity to do that. And then I had my Chinese business law degree, which is where I met Fred. But I came to Hong Kong and I straight in when to do my Master’s in Chinese business law, thinking, it would be such a great idea, because I’m a lawyer, I speak Russian and I speak some Mandarin, this is gonna be great. And one thing that I didn’t take into account at the time is that Hong Kong is actually filled by Chinese qualified lawyers who speak way better Mandarin than I do, and have much better understanding of Chinese legal system. So what’s my niche there, I, I don’t think there’s ever been a niche. But at the time, I did not quite realize that. So after all of that soul searching, I decided that I still want to persevere and try to get qualified in Hong Kong. So I did another thing, which was an English law degree, which I was doing part time, which was very challenging, because English legal system is so different from Russian, German Chinese that I’ve studied before all of the case law, it was quite overwhelming, in addition to a full time job. So this journey of, of law, I think, a number of steps in that journey weren’t necessary. But at the same time, when I get interviewed for jobs, I think one thing that comes out from my CV is perseverance, because you could see that this woman just never gives up, like she keeps going and keeps going and keeps going. And for a number of people, this is a quality they’re looking for in the people they hire. So yeah, I don’t know, what advice would I give to my boss self, actually, because I think it did pay off to an extent, but at the same time, when I look back on yours, when I was starting part time, and working full time and didn’t sleep for like three years, I also do feel a little bit sorry, for my younger self.


Jonathan Bench  29:19 

It’s funny, I thought about that, too. I don’t think that I would believe myself. If I went back in the past as myself to talk to myself, I don’t think I would believe myself, right? I’d say, Yeah, sure. Let me figure this out on my own old guy, right. And so I figured that, that that’s where, you know, I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently. In your experience in Hong Kong at the magic circle firm echoes experience at one of my good friends who is also at a magic circle firm in Hong Kong. And he was the same way he’s actually his Mandarin is better than mine. His Cantonese is better than mine. And he’s just straight out smarter than I am. But he even he said, he would walk into a room and he kind of got, you know, jaded a bit because he said, What am I doing? I’m not asking Anything here because, you know, the top Chinese lawyers in the room are, you know, have better Chinese than I do have a better pedigree than I do. And they, you know, and they have a better understanding of the Chinese relationship. Right? I mean that he said, he said, I get it like, you know, for for a Westerner, I’m, you know, I’m about as high as you can get. I just can’t make any more progress because of the of the caliber of people that I’m that I’m up against. So interesting to hear you echo that, in your experience as you were trying to figure out what you’re doing.


Nadia Lazareva  30:31 

Yeah, yeah, that’s absolutely how I felt because the intricacies even if, if you do learn the language impeccably and your subject matter expertise is amazing. The intricacies of the relationships and winning trusts of clients and things associated with that I think this is a completely new level of the game. And it’s very rare that a foreigner is able to excel in that area.


Fred Rocafort  30:56 

Continuing on this topic a little bit, just to add my two cents. I mean, it is an interesting question, right? I’m just thinking, what would I tell my younger self? And I think one of the things that that is important to keep in mind that, at least for me, when I when I reflect on this topic, is that perhaps looking back, right, when with everything that we’ve learned along the way, and with the perspective that we have, it’s tempting to say, well, I shouldn’t have done that, you know, that perhaps was a waste of time, or I should have done a instead of B. But I think in my own case, when I when I look back and put myself in the shoes of my younger self, I think that in most instances, even if it was not perhaps the best decision possible, in in most cases, it was at least a rational decision that that made sense, given the circumstances. So that’s something to keep in mind as well. But um, while we’re on this on the subject, generally we were talking about the past. Let’s look at the the future. Nadia, in your case, where do you see yourself in 10 years? You think you’ll go back to Russia, you do you think you’ll you’ll stick around Hong Kong? Is there perhaps a return to the mainland in store for you? Or maybe some new destination?


Nadia Lazareva  32:15 

I wish somebody else could answer that question for me and give me a crystal ball to see how things would go. I’m going to say that I’m not, I’m not keen on going back to Russia, for a number of reasons. But my family is no longer in Russia, a number of my friends live and work across the globe. So I don’t feel like there is a lot to go back to and out of my 30 years, I’ve spent 10 in Hong Kong. So Russia is really a childhood home rather than an actual place I’ve worked and developed in. And also, since I’ve never worked in Russia, and I’ve always worked in international companies, I think it could be quite challenging to to completely change the environment. I’ve heard this from a number of experts who work abroad for most of their lives. And then when they go back, they actually, they’re not local enough to fit well into the culture and the corporate culture. But at the same time, they’re not foreigners, so they’re not treated as foreigners. And this creates a bit of a challenge with how you function how you operate. Yeah, so that that’s Russia. In terms of other countries, I’m very, I’m very open to, to trying new things, trying something new. I think now I’ve reached the stage where I’ve spent enough time in Hong Kong, to be able to go somewhere else for some time and then go back if I if I felt like it because I have I have my home here. And I would not want to give that up. In my ideal universe, I would like to imagine myself in Europe, because this is a part of the world that I haven’t lived in. And living in Hong Kong, it’s quite challenging to to travel. I mean, you can still go a few times a year, but it’s just too far. takes too long to get there and so on. So I would really welcome a change a complete change of geographic region. So it could be Europe, I wouldn’t mind trying Middle East or Latin America just to experience a completely different environment. But I would go not to place but to an interesting job opportunity. This is something I’ve been quite conscious of, in the last couple of years that I would I would go where good interesting work leads me because I think if you have a job that stimulates you and satisfies you then the location is actually of lesser importance.


Fred Rocafort  34:55 

You bring up an excellent point. I just need to jump on that. I think this is something that, especially people who are interested in a career overseas or who are interested in having an experience in a different place, there is a tendency, and I think it’s an understandable one to focus on the place, right? Like, oh, I, I wish I could go and work in London, or there are opportunities in this place. But I don’t like that place. So I will not go there. And your point is spot on. Really, what matters is the job to which you’re moving. That’s not to say that where you are isn’t relevant that it is, of course, but I certainly would encourage people who are considering going overseas or who are already overseas and are looking for, for that next experience, to look beyond the place itself. Because from experience, I know that sometimes you can have a great experience in a place that maybe is not so great, at least according to your standards, and vice versa. And I think for me, Hong Kong is a great example of that I I had moments in Hong Kong, where I was not happy at all with with my job situation. And the fact that I was in a great city that says Hong Kong didn’t really make up for the fact that I had a crappy job. And there were other moments when the work was was was good. And then everything changes right then then that’s where you enjoy the the work, you enjoy the city. And then everything goes well. But but there are certainly scenarios out there where you could be in a place that’s challenging in terms of in terms of the conditions in a particular city in terms of the culture, but the work itself by peaceful rewarding that it unbalanced makes it makes it worthwhile. So excellent point.


Jonathan Bench  36:51 

Nadia, thank you for being with us today on on our show, we absolutely have loved getting your insights and reminiscing about Hong Kong. And certainly learning from you or your perspective all the time you spent on the eastern part of the of the world. We’d like to close asking our guests a question, which is, do you have anything for our listeners that you recommend? We could read could listen to we could watch that would help broaden our horizons? Anything at all? Really?


Nadia Lazareva  37:18 

Yeah. One book that I’ve recently read, and I’m afraid my recommendation is not going to be original at all is called In My Own Words. And it’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book. And it’s a collection of her writing, and her speeches and then some of the episodes from her life. And there are a couple of reasons why this book has really resonated with me. And so I first listened to an audiobook, and I found the audiobooks. So interesting that I actually ended up being a paperback. And I ended up going through the paperback making notes, because the quality of arguments in some of her speeches and the specific phrasing that she uses is absolutely amazing. And I think this is something if you, especially if you’re not a native speaker, and you’re working in an environment where you need to persuade people, and you need to influence people to make the right decisions, which is often the case in my job, actually borrowing some of the language that she uses, I think could be very powerful. So I loved the book, not just from a perspective of you know, female leadership journey and fight for equality, but also the the mere quality of the language and the argument is something I wish I could learn. So I think just taking it from the book is one thing I can do to improve my persuasion skills.


Jonathan Bench  38:52 

It’s great recommendation. Thank you, Fred, what do you have for us?


Fred Rocafort  38:55 

My recommendation this week is an article titled Suspected Chinese Spy Targeted California politicians. It appeared on Axios and it was written by Bethany Allen -Ebrahimian and Zach Dorman. And basically, the subject of the article is a woman originally from well, she’s back in China now. So she’s originally and currently from China, but who spent quite a bit of time in in California, and it is alleged that she targeted local politicians, relatively low level of politicians in an effort to advance China’s interests, many interesting angles. Of course, if you’re if you’re looking at it from a china perspective, it gives some perspective regarding the efforts that China is undertaking to influence local politics. More generally, if you have any interest in espionage, it should be of interest as well. But I think there’s also a human interest aspect to it. reading the story, I couldn’t help but but wonder, you know how much of what was happening was part of some master plan bought by the MSS and Beijing, you know, here’s what you will do. Here’s who you know, here’s the person you will target. And here’s how you will target them. In some cases, connections were intimate between this woman and her targets. But I can’t help but wonder how much of that was following a strict plan to do it and how much of it is just happenstance and human behavior? People have this idea I think that perhaps over overestimate the level of control that countries can have over this this sort of interaction. So anyway, enough, said suspected Chinese spy targeted California politician. So obviously, the link will be provided on the posts. Jonathan, what about you,


Jonathan Bench  40:54 

I need to get on the record that I can be bribed with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, in case anyone’s listening and wants to send some my way. My kids already know this. And they would spill the beans to anybody for candy, right? So I have no secrets. I have no expectation of privacy in my life. And I do like peanut butter cups. So my recommendation this week, it’s an article from the Federalist by an author called Sumantra Maitra. And the article is also about China. It’s called to stop China’s Imperial designs, let it bleed itself dry. And this is an economic perspective on imperialism. He talks a little bit about the United States, and about China and about how it’s kind of axiomatic that an empire will build itself so big to the point that it will collapse, right? There’s no way to sustain an ever growing Empire happened with the Brits. Russians had trouble with it. China is having trouble with it US is pulling back now. You know, we’ve we’ve seen pullback under President Trump from saying we’re, we’re going to go and and mold the world after our image. And we’ll see what what President Biden’s gonna do with that. But it’s interesting, obviously, I’m in a lot of conversations all the time about, you know, what happens, what’s happening in China. Now, where’s China going? You know, what do we do about China? Is there any way to change China? What’s China’s future going to look like? And so I think this article is an important part of that conversation, which is, you know, is China going to change things on its own? Is the government going to change? Are the people going to change the government? Or are we just going to have to let China do its thing and spend its money and bleed itself dry to the point where it has to pull back? So interesting thoughts, interesting concepts, and certainly recommend that article to stop Chinese Imperial designs, Let It Bleed Itself Dry. Nadia, we want to thank you again for being with us. We hope we can catch up with you again, and we wish you well in your work at the bank and your work raising your daughter and I certainly will look forward to seeing what you’re up to.


Nadia Lazareva  42:46 

Thank you very much, guys. It’s been a pleasure.


Jonathan Bench  42:51 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, we look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law and business. This podcast was produced by Harris Sliwoski with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Steven Schmidt. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.


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