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A varied and collegiate working environment in an exciting city
Hong Kong partner Eugene Man on working in Bank Finance

Eugene Man is Office Executive Partner for White & Case in Hong Kong and Head of Banking and Restructuring for the Asia-Pacific region. Named as one of Asian Legal Business's "40 Under 40" in 2019, Eugene explains what working in bank finance is about, and shares a surprising secret about living in Hong Kong.

"Working in bank finance means getting involved in many aspects of multiple billion-dollar transactions," explains Eugene. "In short, we work with some of the largest financial institutions, sponsors and corporates in the region on some of the most complex and interesting transactions, and no two deals are ever the same."

Since joining the Firm as a counsel in 2011, Eugene was promoted to local partner in 2012 and to partner in 2015. He says that it's an exciting time to do business in Asia-Pacific. "We have a really varied practice here, although of course many of the deals are multijurisdictional and extend beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Our deals range from blue chip corporate credits to sponsor-leveraged financing, equity margin financing, pre-IPO financing, direct (private credit) lending and other structured event-driven financing." 

Varied work across multiple deals

What does a typical day look like for Eugene? "We're in constant contact with our clients. Junior associates are encouraged to put their hand up for responsibility and to run with a transaction, or to be the main point of contact for a client. Depending on the stage of the deals that we're working on, we could be structuring transactions, drafting documentation, facilitating negotiations between the various parties or running complex closing processes."

Eugene adds that, "I travel for work occasionally, but that's usually for business development. Video and audio conferencing tools mean that we can have effective virtual meetings with clients or colleagues anywhere, although I always enjoy connecting with people face-to-face too." 

A happy and collegial working environment

What's the working environment like at White & Case in Hong Kong? "The Bank Finance team is very collegiate and it's a friendly environment. Our associates are a tight-knit and friendly bunch who often choose to socialize together outside the office. It's great to see them all get along so well!"

What advice does Eugene have for aspiring lawyers in Hong Kong? "Firstly, it's never too soon to start growing your own network. Secondly, look for a mentor that can really commit to helping you develop. I think that a common mistake is to look for very senior people as potential mentors, but it's important that you develop a relationship with someone who has the bandwidth and time to help you fulfill your ambitions. That might be someone less senior, or even one of your peers."

An unexpected side to life in Hong Kong

Finally, what's life like in Hong Kong outside the office? For Eugene, it's definitely a city that never sleeps. "This is a work hard, play hard town. It's incredibly motivating when you tune in to the energy and pace of life here." There's an unexpected side to living here too. "Most people don't realize that much of Hong Kong is mountainous and rural. You can be walking a serious country trail with just a 15-minute taxi ride from the office. It's great to be able to have such easy access to beautiful scenery and great hiking."

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