Jeffrey Hine, MBA 84

Chief Operating Officer
CCB Financial Leasing Corp., Beijing

After a 30-mile bike ride one morning in 2007, Jeffrey Hine, MBA 84, received a call that effectively pulled him out of retirement, uprooted him from his home in Benicia, Calif., and replanted him where he is today: Beijing.


Hine is now the chief operating officer of CCB Financial Leasing Corp., where he has spent the last three years building from scratch a joint venture between China Construction Bank and Bank of America. Along the way, he has helped create a growing leasing practice in a country where, just years ago, leasing was virtually nonexistent. The joint venture leases new and used equipment and facilities to entities such as China’s power-generating firms and to its rail industries.

The experience of operating in a different country and across cultures has made Hine feel like a pioneer, he says. The California native has assembled, from ground up, a team of nearly 100 employees who are now comfortable approaching him with their own opinions and their own advice. That, in China’s traditional business world, is a rarity, Hine says.

“The education system in China has taught many to interact with authority figures only by listening, but in business it’s most important for those at the top to be the listeners,” Hine says. The most frequent question he asks on the job: “What do you think?”

Earning trust and empowering employees to use their own analytical skills and judgment have been among Hine’s biggest challenges. But they have made the job rewarding, he says, adding that taking this post has flexed his brainpower far more than the daily crossword puzzle ever did during his three-year retirement.

In 2004, after working for 20 years at Bank of America, heading the commercial aircraft leasing group and working as a leasing portfolio manager, Hine dreamed of days filled with hours of exercise instead of sifting through email, of mornings relaxing instead of racing off to meetings. What he found was that no book or puzzle engaged him the way that working in business did and that relaxing for a few weeks was sufficient.

This and the opportunity to work in China, where his wife (also a Cal grad) was born, were ultimately the reasons he returned to the daily hustle and bustle. Hine jokes, “Coming back has allowed me to exercise the gray matter of my brain.” —Laurie Burkitt


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