GBA Lifestyle News
By Adele Wong | June 8th, 2017

The financial sector is a massive provider of jobs in our city — not to mention a main pillar of the Hong Kong economy. And although the industry has been traditionally dominated by men, there are definitely plenty of Hong Kong women who are killing it in their roles. We talk to a few of our favorite women in finance for some insights into their successful professional lives. Here is part one of our series.

See here for part 2, the final part of our series.

Wendy Ding, electronic sales trading at UBS

Wendy Ding
Wendy Ding

Background: Bachelor of Science, University of Toronto.

What are your job responsibilities?

I help institutional clients use algorithms effectively for trading.

Why did you choose finance?

I enjoy working with people and I like how dynamic finance is — there’s always something new and challenging to tackle.

What skills and personality traits do people in your role typically possess? Are you an exception or the norm?

I would say I’m the norm: I’m a self-starter, I’m determined and I work well under pressure.

Your most challenging moment in your career?

When I first made the transition from stock trader to a client-facing role. I had to step out of my comfort zone of being shy and timid, to having to be outgoing and proactive.

What do you think can be done to encourage more women to climb the corporate career ladder?

I think the proverbial glass ceiling is getting easier to break through, and in some companies they are gone altogether. So it’s a great time for younger women to strive for their career goals and to try to climb that ladder. Despite the progress we’ve made, there are without a doubt still some entrenched challenges that will take more time for us to tackle.

I think one of the best ways to help younger women is through mentorship: more experienced women can share some advice and tips on how to tackle some of the challenges. Speaking to women who are in senior roles and who have already made it also makes the dream seem more realistic and attainable.

What words of advice would you offer a young woman starting out in finance?

This is not really finance-specific: you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when you first start, your first job will often not be the job you’ll end up being the best at or building a career on later.  Just work hard, be positive, keep an open mind and you will find out what your niche is and you will be successful.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully on a beach somewhere making dumplings.

Aoife McGillion, Risk & Strategy at the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC)

Aoife McGillion
Aoife McGillion

Background: Bachelor of Commerce, University College Dublin, Ireland. Masters in Accounting, Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, Ireland. Chartered Accountant, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Your job responsibilities? 

My role largely entails researching sources of risk data, Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) and new technologies that aim to enhance the efficiency of workflows for the SFC operating units. Besides my job, I also chair the media committee for Women in Finance Asia (WiFA); manage marketing and communications for Suits for Success,  and have moderated panels for the WiFA education series on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance.

How did you get into finance?

I chose to study commerce at university, and through that, accounting — because it was broad-based and I didn’t need to decide straight away what I wanted to do with my career. It turned out that I had an aptitude for it, and I went on to qualify as a chartered accountant. That brought me to Hong Kong and onwards to banking, before I joined regulator SFC.

What skills and personality traits do people in your role typically possess? Are you an exception or the norm? 

I’m sure there’s a stereotype from the outside, but in fact I find it difficult to generalize now. When I started working, it was with 90-plus other auditors who all had a background in some aspect of finance — so it would have been easier to define a norm. But currently, within my team, we are all so different in personalities, experience and expertise. And in general, I think diversity and inclusion initiatives that are increasingly more common in the finance industry, so it’s a good indicator that firms are at least recognizing the need for having people with varying backgrounds, skillsets and personalities, as part of the workforce.

Your most challenging moment in your career?

The most challenging times in my career have always been trying to decide what I wanted to do next. Joining a networking community likeWomen in Finance Asia and finding a mentor have been great resources in helping me to figure out what my career options are.

What words of advice would you offer to a young woman starting out in finance?

Join a networking group and expand your contacts. And balance! Not just work versus home life, but work versus creative outlets as well. It doesn’t have to be artsy, but find and do something that makes you feel good on the whole, whether it’s getting involved in volunteer work or learning a new skill or language.