What is your current role, and your participation in BlackRock’s I&D initiatives?
I work as an investment strategist covering ETFs and Index Investments at BlackRock. I’m also a committee member of the BlackRock Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) in Hong Kong; externally I have been sitting on the WiFA Philanthropy Committee since 2018. What prompted me to become active in these groups was a general curiosity about the types of issues females face in the workforce, be it career progression or being a working parent. I’m optimistic that a lot of stereotypes are being broken, although it still needs a bit of work in the local Hong Kong environment.
BlackRock’s WIN & Allies HK was restructured in 2019, driven by the enthusiasm of our co-chairs Joanna Yau and Haryati Versace. The team has worked very hard to implement practical programs for junior to mid-level female employees. This includes public speaking and executive presence workshops, which can be directly applied to our day-to-day work. Our Board of Directors has also been some of our strongest advocates and sponsors for the past two years.
BlackRock has been a supporter of WiFA for a few years. How is the team benefitting from the programs/events?
One of our most popular/successful programs last year has been working with EmpowerU. To give a bit of context, the WiFA Philanthropy committee aims to support targeted, non-profit organizations towards achieving scalability and sustainability. One such organization is EmpowerU, which provides weekly lectures to hundreds of domestic helpers in Hong Kong as a form of education empowerment. In October 2019, BlackRock delivered a seminar on ‘Investments 101’ at the University of Hong Kong, where this program takes place. It was an accomplishment for us as a corporate because a) we gave BlackRock volunteers (including emerging female talent) a platform to speak and to share their expertise in investments with domestic helpers; and b) we managed to draw a good number of male allies to WIN as a result of this event. In terms of scalability, we are in discussion to produce everything digitally in the coming year to reach a broader audience.
Tell us one thing that is important for #CreatingTheWorkforceOfTheFuture
There is enough talk of how the industry is evolving (expansion of in-house data science teams, being nimbler with organizational structures, advancements in machine learning etc.), but how do we navigate this landscape on a personal level? One thing I find important is to not be superficial with learning. Do you only ‘kind of know’ what blockchain is? What does it mean for operational efficiency in finance? We see buzzwords every day, but if we don’t really understand these developments, we can’t meaningfully contribute. It’s impossible to know everything in depth, but if a specific trend interests you, get to the bottom of it and ask questions. This is how you can prepare for and define the trajectory of your career, rather than hoping that the abstract future will still value your current skill sets several years from now. That, to me, is what it takes to be meaningfully shaping the workforce, and meaningfully evolving with the industry.
What advice would you give to women who want to lead?
I see leadership as simply taking initiative. There’s no need to overthink it.