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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Adele Wong | June 13th, 2017

See here for part 1 of our Women in Finance series

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 two, and the final part of our series.


Vivian Chang, Head of Alternative Investments, WH Asset Management

Vivian Chang
Vivian Chang

Background: Bachelor of Arts — Quantitative Economics, Queen’s University, Toronto.

What are your job responsibilities? 

My job responsibilities include building trust with every client and understanding their investment requirements and objectives and providing them with long term solutions to their wealth planning needs. I also source investment talents and products in the markets that best match my clients’ profiles.

Why did you choose finance?

I was always keen to get into finance since high school. Maybe it was a trend, or I was following in the footsteps of my brother. During university, I worked for a few banks during my summer internships and it enhanced my interest in joining a bank when I graduated. And voila: it has been almost 10 years since I started in finance.

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

I would like to say I’m an exception, as I took many risks in my career. I decided to do something different and left the banking world after four years and went off to join a new startup asset management company.

Working at a new startup company is what really took my career and experience to a whole new level, as everything I did, I felt like I made a difference. After a few years the company took off, and I was looking for another challenge. So I started my own alternative investment consultancy firm with some clients supporting me. I believed in my own philosophy and decided to take action. I now run WH, my current company.

Your most challenging moment in your career?

Starting my own company when everyone discouraged me to do so. They believed I should just go back to a bank or find a “stable job.” I believed something good would come out of this opportunity and after being patient for four to five years, I finally found a great partner who could bring my business to another level.

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

The most important is for them to identify what they’re passionate about, and can do well in. Once there is passion and enjoyment, one would then be willing to go all the way and to find an opportunity to climb the ladder in any industry.

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

Be patient. Don’t rush. Always think of alternative ways to excel!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ten years is a long time and our market changes really fast. Who knows — I hope to continue to excel and do well in my role. I also like to try out other industries as well, that are more lifestyle- and wellness- related.


Sandra Sing-Man Leung, COO & Head of Issuer Services in Market Development, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX)

Sandra Leung
Sandra Leung

 

Background: Bachelor of Science in Economics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


What are your job responsibilities?
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The Market Development Division is responsible for developing new revenue and product initiatives, as well as all marketing efforts in both the international and mainland markets across all asset classes.  In my role as COO, I work closely with HKEX senior leadership as well as divisional heads to manage strategic, financial, compliance, personnel and administrative matters related to the division.

How did you get into finance?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do going into university, but I knew what I did NOT want to do — like medicine, law. So I did different internships over the three college summers and I found the investment banking internship at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong to be the most challenging and most exciting. It provided the widest exposure to different industries and people, so I returned full-time when I received an offer after my summer internship.

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

A positive “can-do” attitude, the ability to learn quickly and good teamwork skills are some of the most important attributes needed when I first started in investment banking. In my new role at the HKEX now, strong communication skills, the ability to multi-task, strong organizational skills and high EQ are also increasingly important. I believe that no one is born to have all these attributes and be “the norm” — one must always continue to learn, improve and contribute based on your own strengths and expertise, even at the most senior levels.

Your most challenging moment in your career?

In investment banking, the unpredictable hours made it hard to maintain balance between work and family / personal / social life.  In my current role, the most challenging thing is learning how to manage both up and down, especially at a young age.

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

Women-focused professional trainings on negotiation skills and conflict management can help. Same with female mentors and male champions, as well as flexible and positive working arrangements for mothers.

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

Do not be afraid to speak up and fight for what you believe in.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to leverage my experience in finance to contribute back to society via the establishment of an NGO or social enterprise focused on elderly needs.


Divya Rao, Project Manager, Special Situations & Distressed Investments, SSG Capital Management (HK)

Divya Rao
Divya Rao

Background: Bachelor in Business Management, University of Mysore, India.

Your job responsibilities? 

I’m the chief contact for the firm’s ongoing project to have every portfolio recorded and reported from a single front office system that is catered for private equity and asset management firms.

How did you get into finance?

I practically followed in my father’s footsteps. He was the Finance & Administrative Head for an oil contracting company in Bahrain. He showed me how to read a bank reconciliation statement at a very young age.

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

There are a lot of people who have amazing finance and accounting skills, and a lot of people with great technological skills. I think I fall in between being able to understand operational and financial needs, and translating that information to the technology team in a language they can understand.

Your most challenging moment in your career?

I have many hobbies outside of work. Volunteering, photography, running — to name a few. I like to maintain a work life balance, but these are sometimes considered less important than having a family to attend to. I think I am more productive after I take a break to go to the gym. In Asia, this is definitely a challenge.

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

Employers should pay men and women equally, like Iceland’s recent law. I don’t understand why this is taking too long to enforce across the globe, when people are constantly fighting for equality.

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

Try different kinds of roles for the first three years at least. Being too picky will not help you realize what you are probably missing out on that could be even better for you. I always thought investment banking products were my forte, only to realize seven years later in my career that I actually enjoy special situations and distressed investments.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself starting my own business. It could be in finance or it could be one of my hobbies. I think the skills I have developed and the knowledge I have gained in the financial industry are transferrable and will definitely come in handy, whatever I choose to do.