Volunteer Spotlight: Youngsoo Ji & JA Korea
Youngsoo Ji is a senior assistant in the Korea investment team. She’s volunteered for Barings’ charities for the past three years, and specifically with JA Korea since last November.
Tell us about JA Korea
JA Korea works with local businesses and organizations to deliver learning programs to students aged 5—25 in areas including work readiness and financial literacy. The Barings team has been involved with JA Korea since last year.
What exactly have you done?
We run a mentoring and personal finance education program, ‘Invest Your Future’, with about 25—30 high school students in the Seoul metropolitan area. The program takes two parts: lectures on the finance industry and the career paths Barings teammates have taken; and mentoring on topics including going to college and careers in the financial sector. I was a mentor and general coordinator of the program.
Youngsoo (far left) leading a mentoring session during the Barings-JA Korea ‘Invest Your Future’ program
Why does this resonate so much in Korea?
Culturally, education in Korea is extremely important. Excelling academically and securing good employment is seen as crucial.
It’s quite rare for high school students to directly interact with professionals in the office and to be exposed to a career and mentoring program with people who work in the field—so this is actually a unique learning opportunity.
Why did you get involved?
I’ve always been interested in volunteering—in fact, I was a student volunteer with JA Korea in college.
My motivation for volunteering at Barings is that I believe giving back is my responsibility. I had a lot of support from others to become who I am today, so I want to give back to the local community, which could help create a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful.
We have resources at Barings, and I don’t mean just financial resources. We have incredible people working here with such deep knowledge in their fields and careers.
As I mentioned, education is very big here in Korea, so if we can share that knowledge and help younger generations to start thinking about their future path, the impact we have could be huge.
Youngsoo (far right) with teammates and participants of this June’s ‘Invest Your Future’ program
"We have resources at Barings, and I don’t mean just financial resources. We have incredible people working here."
How important is it that Barings gives you the space and time to volunteer?
Barings empowers me to go out and contribute to my local community. Korea is well-known for its intense work culture. In this culture, if you spare time and energy for volunteering, it often gives an impression you’re not focusing on your main responsibilities. But at Barings, we take giving back seriously—it’s a fundamental part of all our jobs.
"At Barings, we take giving back seriously—it’s a fundamental part of all our jobs."
What’s your best memory of volunteering with Barings?
This month, we had our second event with JA Korea and the student feedback was very touching: saying how special and unique it was to have the chance to talk with people in the industry, and how useful it was to receive tips on applying for college. It was very encouraging and motivating, and really made me feel like we were making a difference.