Alumni / June 18, 2020

Smith Grad Recognized as Leader in Diversity

Andy Kim, MBA ’20

For Andy Kim, MBA ’20, the desire to make banking a better experience for Korean speakers runs deep.

Kim, vice president and business banking relationship manager at M&T Bank, made the list of the Baltimore Business Journal’s 2020 Leaders in Diversity Award for his efforts in building a Korean-speaking banking team within his branch.

The idea began as an observation. When Kim began working as a teller, he was the sole Korean-speaking employee in the branch, and Korean customers relied on him for help. Soon, he began to feel a need to do more to help break down the language barrier in other aspects of banking, such as lending and opening accounts.

“I realized as I moved up in our branch that I was leaving a void in my previous roles,” Kim says. “That’s when I had an idea of going to my regional manager and saying that I needed (Korean-speaking) people to fill these positions so that I could help our customers get the banking experience they deserve.”

At 8 years old, Kim and his family immigrated to the United States from South Korea. The transition was sometimes arduous. Seemingly simple tasks like going to the grocery store, bank or school were difficult, he says.

“English was a second language to my family, and we didn’t have anyone to rely on,” says Kim. “It was more about whether another person had the time to explain things to us or if we had come prepared to discuss what we needed to talk about in those situations.”

These experiences, combined with encouragement from his father, are what led Kim to the pursuit of higher education and a career in banking.

“My dad was a mechanic and used to tell my brother and I that he wanted us to get an education, go to a good college, wear a suit and tie and not have to worry about getting our hands dirty,” says Kim. “That’s exactly what we did. Now, I work with small business owners with an added focus around minority business owners, so my current work relates a lot to my upbringing.”

As Kim graduates from the EMBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, he says he credits the program for instilling the confidence to begin building his team at M&T Bank.

“Without the education and support I received from the University of Maryland’s EMBA program, I would not have had the courage to step up and make these changes,” he says. “I want to thank the professors and my fellow Cohort ’19 members for giving me the strength and encouragement to know that I can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Moving forward, Kim seeks to replicate his successes at other branches in the region and beyond, promoting a more inclusive banking experience for people of many different backgrounds.

“It’s gratifying to know that I am making a difference in my community and helping people from my culture to help make them feel like they are not alone, that there is someone that can help,” Kim says.

“I want to make the banking experience as easy and comfortable as it can be so that people have no fear about it. I think it’s just the right thing to do.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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