Global Bankers Program Celebrates 41st Year


Global Bankers Program 2018

On August 4th, Executive Education at the Foster School of Business welcomed a program to the UW intended to further opportunities for growth and success in international banking and finance. For 40 years, this program to support regional economic development via education and collaboration was called the Pacific Rim Bankers Program. In 2018, to reflect a wider and more inclusive scope, it became the Global Bankers Program.

The program was conceived in 1975 by Dr. Kermit O. Hanson, then Dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Washington. A proposal for the new program was approved in September 1976, and primary goals for the newly created Pacific Rim Bankers Program were outlined. PRBP goals were to:

  • Examine issues of mutual interest to all Pacific Rim nations
  • Improve participants’ abilities to handle banking and management problems
  • Facilitate banking relationships between the U.S. and other Pacific Rim nations

In its 41st year, the Global Bankers Program still places the highest priority on bringing together accomplished banking professionals from around the world, enabling them to learn not just from the University of Washington faculty but also from each other. This year, we emphasized the most current fields of study, such as disruption, emerging technologies, and interpersonal and cross-cultural communication.

As in previous years, the program spent one week in Seattle and one week in San Francisco. In Seattle, our work was classroom-based, starting with sessions on communication from Associate Dean of Executive Education and International Initiatives, Jean Choy. The participants spent the rest of their week at the UW learning from distinguished Foster School faculty Elizabeth Umphress, Emily Cox-Pahnke, Stephan Siegel, Suresh Kotha, Pat Bettin and Greg Bigley.

Vicente Miñana Rufat of Banco Galicia (Argentina) told us, “I found the program to be great, not only the content and the quality of the lectures, but the opportunity to meet so many interesting people from very different backgrounds. It’s great to be exposed to such diverse perspectives. The class environment is relaxed and friendly. We’re actually having a good time!”

Given how hard the participants of GBP work on their courses with our excellent UW faculty, the students saying they had a good time doing it is high praise, indeed.

We headed down to San Francisco together for the second leg of our program. Despite wildfire smoke delaying most of our flights and causing us to arrive late, everyone started their team presentations on innovation strategies with enthusiasm and energy. Spending our days at Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco, hearing from distinguished speakers on topics such as attracting talent, simplicity and financial technology developments, was enlightening. We capped off the time in San Francisco with a visit to the Federal Reserve where, amongst other things, we got an extremely supervised glimpse of millions of dollars in cash, stacked high and ready to be put into circulation.

“The classes, discussions and lectures from guest speakers gave us a chance to reflect and think about what we are facing in the financial market, with the impact of new technology development in FinTech, like Blockchain, digital payment, etc.” Alicia Zhong of Wing Lung Bank told us.

We celebrated the achievements of all the participants with a graduation in the beautiful Omni Hotel. Foster School Dean Jim Jiambalvo, and GBP Administrative Board President and Head of Strategic Payment Solutions for Wells Fargo, Ashish Sharma, spoke to the group. They congratulated everyone on being selected to participate in this prestigious program and recognized all for their successful program completion.


The group elected to give our Kermit O. Hanson Award to Kwun Jimmy Lee of Wells Fargo Bank (Hong Kong). This award was given in recognition of Jimmy’s efforts and skills in promoting cross-cultural learning and understanding inside and outside of the classroom.

The best way to communicate the benefits of the Global Bankers Program is with the words of the graduates themselves. Jimmy Lee called GBP “inspirational” and praised it for bringing together “banking professionals from around the world to share their experiences, pick up new skills and expand their network.”

According to Vicente Miñana Rufat, the skills learned in GBP are directly applicable to his job at Banco Galicia. He cited the sessions on leadership, communications and innovation as particularly helpful as he transitions into roles managing teams of very technically skilled people. We agree that GBP’s balance of interpersonal and technical sessions is one of its most valuable and unique features.

“The experience from the program is really amazing to me,” says Shyh-Dyh Lin of First Commercial Bank (Taipei). “Not only is the course itself full of useful contents relevant to banking business and leadership, but the professors shared a lot of insights and their own experiences about the topics covered.  By group discussion, roleplaying or even playing games, the fellow students can immerse themselves into situations, learn experience from interaction with each other, and apply what we have learned from the class.  I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to join this program.”

Sharing with us why he thought GBP was valuable for him, Vince Margiotta of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, says “The GBP program is a must for a career banker who wants to expand their global banking knowledge on topics and issues impacting banks today and into the future whilst meeting a diverse group of bankers, learning from their experiences and making lifelong friends along the way!”

At graduation, Corby White of East West Bank (USA), elected by the GBP cohort to speak on behalf of the group, read a well-known quote that summed up our feelings as we prepared to say goodbye to the 2018 class – “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

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