Winnie Khatter is Head of Market Structure, Execution Consulting at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In her 2021 Spotlight Series Interview, she discusses her evolving view of a career in finance, her “personal board of directors” and much more.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself
I had the good fortune to be born in a household where human values were of utmost importance, closely followed by education and one’s career. I grew up in India, lived in the UK for a brief period and now have been in Hong Kong for the past 11 years. I have worked with some excellent inspiring people throughout my career from Deutsche Bank to Bank of America, many of whom have become lifelong friends and mentors. I am optimistic, passionate, athletic and adventurous. I show up to work every day with as much energy as I do for a weekend trail run.
2. What drew you to a career in finance? What has motivated you to stay?
I will be honest; it was money that initially drew me to a career in finance. I graduated with a degree in Physics and after being a poor university student, I wanted to earn money. So I applied for the highest paying jobs at our campus recruitment event and focused my energy into getting one. Once I stepped into the office and the broader world of finance, opportunities exploded and I have tried to grab every single one of them that have come my way., Whether it was from relocating to an unknown country in a brand new role, or getting involved in employee initiatives, recruitment drives, philanthropy and now co-chairing Women in Finance Asia’s mentorship committee, has taught me so much. These experiences have been extremely humbling and satisfying above and beyond just the financial aspect of my career. Large organisations have the power to make an impact on society, and if I can be involved in even a small way to drive that change, it’s a big win and a big motivation for me. Without a doubt, all of this has been possible because there exists a strong support system from my managers, colleagues, and friends that enables me to perform at my best, take risks and learn from mistakes.
3. How do you stay on top of your professional game? Any tips on how you keep your competitive edge?
I am a very social person, and I truly believe that there is something I can learn from everyone else. So I make an active effort to meet and talk to people both inside and outside the workplace, understand what they do, what interests them and seek their opinion on my work when relevant. I will often meet people for a coffee without an agenda as well, and often those discussions end up in surprisingly interesting directions. Working from home isn’t exactly conducive to this, but it’s worth making an effort to connect virtually or to pick up the phone to at least talk, if not meet in person. To keep my competitive edge, I spend the first hour or two of every day reading financial news. This adds up and has made a massive difference to my market knowledge over the years. I also make an active effort to eliminate negative energy from my life, no matter what form it may take.
4. What will be your 2021 mantra to keep you motivated, either professional or personally?
So far, 2021 looks like it may be a very similar year to 2020, where we may be limited in our social interactions and travels. I see it as an opportunity to invest time in yourself, be it your health or education or hobbies. I have created a personal board of directors, which is a few of my very close trusted friends who I speak to regularly. We’ve agreed among us to share and discuss with one another three key things: 1) our health, 2) our finances and, 3) our fears. This is an exercise in exposing our vulnerabilities and creating a strong support network at the same time. Even within the first two months of the year, I have embarked on new projects and am inspired to explore further educational opportunities. Overall, it has helped me build greater confidence in myself and reduce stress, because just talking and sharing your fears and learning how your closest friends feel about you has this amazing impact. I would highly urge everyone to have a board of directors for yourself, with individuals whose opinions you value in guiding both work and life decisions.