Peter Sands

What changed for me as a result of my time at UWC was the sense of opportunity.

Peter Sands (PC 78-80) was appointed Group Chief Executive of Standard Chartered PLC in November 2006. Immediately prior to this Peter had been Group Finance Director since 2002.

Previously Peter was a Director with worldwide consultants McKinsey & Co. where he worked extensively in the banking and technology sectors in a wide range of international markets. He was elected a partner of McKinsey in 1996 and became a Director in 2000. Peter graduated from Oxford University and holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University, where he was a Harkness Fellow.

“When I was at Pearson College, there was a bias against big business and multi-nationals – they were portrayed almost as a negative force in the world, especially in developing countries. I believe that business can play a positive role in society and can actually be a very powerful force for good. Business provides sustainable change which is in many ways much better for the developing world then aid that creates a sticking-plaster intervention. I know that business can’t solve all problems but neither does it create them. In fact, one of the things that I think is great about my role is that the Bank I lead is both performance-driven and committed to being a force for good.” says Peter.

“I grew up in Singapore and Malaysia and both my parents were born in Asia so my most vivid impression of arriving at UWC was the physical beauty of the place, rather than the diversity of the students. The exposure to people from other cultures was perhaps less of a novelty for me than for many others. Yet UWC was a wonderful experience and I certainly don’t under estimate what I learned from the other students and the number of friendships I made. What UWC did for me was to open my mind to what was do-able; to what I could achieve. I think up until that point I had had quite a constrained sense of what I might be able to do and where I might go. UWC took that sense of limits off and that really boosted my confidence. Furthermore, the whole UWC environment instilled the sense that to make things happen, you had to make it happen.”

“On one level I would say my biggest achievement to date is to have four great kids, who have their minds open to the world, to different ideas and cultures and are enthusiastic explorers. Professionally I would say I am proud to have played a role in shaping one of the most international companies in the world, operating in some of the world’s most exciting and challenging markets. Standard Chartered is about as diverse and international an organisation as any in the world and that makes it great fun.”

“As CEO, I am very involved in the Bank’s Seeing is Believing and Living with HIV initiatives. We made a choice to move the Bank away from doing lots of little things in terms of community initiatives to two big themes. We focus a huge amount of effort on these two initiatives. Seeing is Believing aims to address preventable blindness which afflicts nearly 40 million in the world – primarily in the markets in which we operate. Living with HIV is about raising awareness of HIV/Aids and addressing the practical issues of HIV/Aids in the workplace. When we first launched Seeing is Believing we decided to raise enough money to conduct one cataract operation for each member of staff – so 28,000 cataract operations. However we raised enough for 56,000 operations. We have since scaled up the ambition enormously and achieved our fundraising target of US$10 million in 2008. We now have a goal of raising US$100 million by 2020 to help eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment. As part of our commitment, we’ll build 35 new eye-care projects that includes five eye-care projects dedicated for children.

“What changed for me as a result of my time at UWC was the sense of opportunity. I learnt that I needed to take a more proactive role in shaping my world, shaping what I did. Being surrounded by wonderfully talented students from all parts of the world was a powerful catalyst.”

Peter Sands
Pearson College
Group Chief Executive
Standard Chartered PLC