"It is hard to imagine a university more globally diverse and connected than the University of London."
Alumnus Joseph Healy holds an MSc in International Management (China) from the University of London. In this Q and A, he speaks about his career in banking, his motivation behind setting up Judo Bank, and his passion for education
Give us some background about yourself and briefly describe your career journey.
I am a career banker, having worked for five international banks, including on the Executive Committee of one. I started out wanting to be a professional footballer, having played for the Scotland youth team. I had trials at Arsenal but it wasn’t to be. A schoolteacher encouraged me to read The Economist, which l have done every week since 1980! I chose banking as my career as it provided a ‘helicopter’ view of how people and businesses assess trade-offs and make decisions.
Can you tell us more about your role as CEO and co-founder of Judo Bank? What inspired you to set up the company?
In 2015, having failed to be appointed CEO of the bank l worked at, I decided to take a sabbatical at a university in China. During that time l decided l should build a new bank so, from a blank piece of paper, we built Judo Bank, which is now worth over $1.75 billion. I had felt that traditional banks had neglected small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs) and so Judo Bank specialises in banking SMEs. I am a great believer in the power of specialisation.
You’re a seasoned distance-learning student and you hold an MSc in International Management (China) from the University of London. You also hold degrees from several other universities, including some of the University’s Member Institutions such as King’s College London and London Business School. What is your motivation to study and to continue engaging with higher education?
I have always been passionate about education and I’m blessed (or cursed!) with an intellectually curious mind when it comes to important contemporary themes such as China, psychology, and neuroscience. Education provides a rigorous framework for understanding and thinking about important themes. I have six Master’s degrees. You could say education is my addiction!
Outside of work and gaining degrees, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I watch football. I also read and write a lot! In recent years, my reading has been on the history of China (1850-), the neuroscience of addictions, and the role of stress in cancer. I have just finished my fourth book which will be published in March 2023. The book is called Black Belt – a masterclass for entrepreneurs. My previous books were: Breaking the Banks (2020); Chinese Firms going Global – Can They Succeed? (2018) and Corporate Governance & Shareholder Wealth Creation (2003).
You’ve lived an international life, having started out in Scotland and now living in Australia, as well as spending time in London. What perspectives and outlook have these international experiences given you?
I also lived in New York and China. International experience is invaluable in understanding the diversity and richness of other cultures. This opens your mind to how fascinating the world is. I am a believer in the adage that before seeking to be understood, seek first to understand others.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
That’s easy, it has been the success of Judo Bank. The new book Black Belt is, in essence, the story of building Judo Bank.
What impact has your University of London degree had on you both personally and professionally?
Gaining a degree from an internationally renowned institution is a wonderful boost to self-esteem. It also opens your mind to the splendours of the global community. It is hard to imagine a university more globally diverse and connected than the University of London.