International Studies alumnus Angie Hall recognized among Canada’s top female executives
When I hesitate to call her career path atypical, Angie Hall laughs.
“No you’re right,” Hall says. “No one who comes out of international studies goes into corporate banking.”
Hall, who currently serves as Assistant Vice President, Large Corporate for HSBC Bank Canada, was honoured recently as one of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN)’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in the Under 30 category.
During her time at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Hall couldn’t have predicted her role today. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in 2011 in international studies (IS), concentrating in security and conflict, followed by the IS master’s program, where she then focused on economic development.
Hall chose the IS program due to a high school interest in history, and a desire for a more comprehensive understanding of the world. “What I really liked about the IS program is that I saw it as a blend of history, political science and economics,” she says. “I love SFU because of how interdisciplinary we are.”
The ability to look at issues with a wider lens has been key to Hall’s adaptation to the banking world. While initially feeling lost among her colleagues with backgrounds in finance, she leaned into her strengths learned at SFU: analytical thinking and problem solving.
“I think that arts students are better at stepping back, thinking strategically and seeing the big picture,” Hall says. “Say you're writing a paper about a civil war that's broken out in a specific region. If you talk about what's happened [only over] the last year in that region, you're going to fail.” She relates the importance of examining context, and the value of understanding political and economic influence to her work. “That's such an arts skill.”
Hall plans to continue using her background in international studies to promote her values and advocate for beneficial social change within the banking system. She urges incoming students to develop critical thinking skills by studying what truly interests and impassions them.
“I read an article recently that [in the past employers were looking for] IQ, then it was EQ and the next skill they're looking for is AQ, which is adaptability quotient,” Hall says. “What we need are people that can keep up and that can continue to learn.”
Hall encourages others not to think of education as vocational training, but a means of training thinking.
“Study whatever specific thing calls to you,” she advises, “and then think creatively about where your skill set adds value.”