Peter Rupert Lighte *81
Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Graduate Alumni Candidate
Peter Lighte’s life has been much like the mosaics and calligraphy he creates: thoughtful and rich in meaning. “It was in Chinese history that I prepared for an international life, the trajectory of which has always been upward but never direct.”
Lighte *81 is a career banker working in Europe and Asia, a calligrapher of Chinese, a mosaicist, a painter and writer. He is currently Chairman of JPMorgan Chase Bank in China. Before that Lighte headed up International Client Coverage for Treasury and Securities Services for Europe and Asia, based in London, and was instrumental in the recreation of the new Corporate Bank. Prior to that he was President of Chase Trust Bank in Tokyo.
Lighte originally came to Princeton in 1969 as a visiting student to study with Professor Frederick W. Mote, a leading scholar of Chinese history and culture. While subsequently enrolled as a Ph.D. student, he held numerous positions in academia, eventually winding up in California during a time of political turmoil. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. from Princeton, having already started his career in banking with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in 1979; and in 1982, he moved to Beijing as the bank’s founding representative. His career flourished, with Lighte becoming Director of Manufacturers Hanover Limited in London, covering the Far East and Australia. He went on to manage the Financial Institutions Group for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company and Chemical Banking Corporation before relocating to Hong Kong in 1996.
Although banking has, indeed, been central to Lighte’s professional life, his many other pursuits have included close ties to Princeton University. While living in London, he was an active volunteer on the Alumni Council, serving on a number of standing committees. Lighte has also been affiliated with Princeton-in-Asia over many years and has helped to develop an informal summer intern program for Princetonians at JPMorgan in Beijing.
Lighte has always embraced the many opportunities that have come his way, saying, “One’s internal life only grew when presented with opportunities….it was up to me to accommodate whatever mattered in an ever expanding satchel.”
His satchel has been filled to the brim: serving as Director of the Matilda Child Development Center in Hong Kong; serving on the Corporate Advisory Board of Hope and Homes for Children in the UK, and now on the Board of Half The Sky in China. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the China Institute Executive Summit.
His interest in the arts has extended to serving on the Board of the London City Ballet and as the JPMorgan Representative to the Hayward Gallery in London. Lighte himself is an accomplished artist and has exhibited frequently. Calligraphy, painting and mosaic making "have all been added to that suitcase of mine.”
His recent professional accomplishments include significant responsibility for JP Morgan Chase’s International Council, held in Shanghai, with members including Tony Blair, George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Bill Bradley and Jamie Dimon, among others.
Lighte has been powerfully influenced by his time in the East Asian Studies Department at Princeton, ranging from The Analects of Confucius to The Book of Changes, calligraphy, his professors and fellow students, all shaping him into who he is still becoming, which explains his abiding commitment to Princeton University.
“The very people I care most about are always somehow unknowingly touched by these souvenirs of my education.” For Lighte, life has been a compilation of experiences at Princeton and abroad. As he says, “No linear life, this; but one alive, indeed, to the synchronicity of the Yi Jing, with that ever expanding suitcase always at my side."