Amy Viklund is the Asia business development lead for financial institutions and TMT sectors at Freshfields. In her 2021 Spotlight Series interview Amy Viklund discusses how she keeps her competitive edge, the importance of mentors, advice she would give her younger self, and much more.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

At Freshfields, I really enjoy working with my regional and global colleagues to grow two important sectors – financial institutions and TMT. One of the exciting projects I am providing leadership for is our global effort to enhance diversity and inclusion within our global marketing and business development function in view of the firm’s new and ambitious D&I targets. I’m energised by this group of colleagues who are very passionate about being part of the change and contributing to the global community beyond the day-to-day.

Prior to my adventure in the legal industry, I spent a few years at a stock exchange.

How do you stay on top of your professional game? Any tips on how you keep your competitive edge?

Build your own board of directors – friends and colleagues who you trust and will go to for formal or informal soundings depending on the subject matter. Surround yourself with people who will help lift you up when you are down.

Build strong self-awareness – understand what you want; be honest with yourself about your strengths and areas for improvement; stay alert to how your interactions influence others. This is an important ongoing exercise that serves as the foundation to get you where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. 

At the same time, stay confident. Balance your inner critic with your inner supporter. Celebrate small wins when you can.

Always stay curious and be flexible. It is important to keep an open mind and be conscious of the limitations of your own knowledge and perspectives in ever-evolving times. Learnings could come from even the simplest daily interactions with friends and colleagues.

Mentors play an important role in the developments of many careers. Did you have a mentor? If so, what did you look for in that person?

I’ve been very fortunate to have a number of formal and informal mentors throughout my career. Their mentoring has shaped me professionally and personally. I had a mentor who provided valuable guidance on preparation for maternity leave and return to the office after maternity leave. I had another mentor who inspired and challenged me to go outside my comfort zone. There was also a mentor who provided very helpful advice on how I approach career development without losing sight of what is important outside work. My career would have been very different without them.

I’m a strong believer in mentoring and the critical role it plays in one’s career. As I’m becoming more senior, I also value the opportunity to give back by mentoring others. I was a mentor in the WiFA 2020 mentoring program and I’m a mentor again this year in the 2021 program.

Think back to when you were starting out your career. What advice would you give your younger self?

Allow your priorities to change as you progress through different stages of life and embrace the changes. Careers are a marathon, not a sprint – they require time, patience and resilience.

What will be your 2021 mantra to keep you motivated, either professional or personally?

After more than a year of the pandemic, it is important to stay human and try to be understanding about people’s challenges, including your own. Never lose sight of the fact that it is a person behind the email, phone call or policy. Be proactive to provide positive feedback when others are doing a good job and celebrate small wins, for example a good presentation delivered and a good meeting run.

Aside from work, what are your other passions? 

Seeing my children grow happily and healthily is the biggest passion in my life. 

* Amy’s views are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of her employer.