Garbo Cheung is the APAC Chief Compliance Officer at Citadel, and in her 2021 Spotlight Series Interview, she discusses proud moments in her career, how she stays on top of her professional game and more.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

I currently serve as the APAC Chief Compliance Officer at Citadel, where I am focused on scaling a robust compliance program to support the business as it continues to expand in Asia Pacific.

I have worked in the industry for the past 20 years on the sell-side, buy-side and exchanges. I started my career with the Hong Kong Exchange in cash trading, market and product development, where I designed and introduced rules and regulations that had important and far-reaching implications for the Hong Kong securities market.  I also launched several highly successful products for the Exchange, including 2800 Tracker Fund and Callable Bull/Bear Contracts that proved to be very popular in the Hong Kong market.

From there, I joined various investment banks as Regional Head of Equities and Global Markets Compliance – including ABN AMRO, Citigroup and Nomura in Hong Kong and London. My roles covered everything from advising businesses on entering new markets, joint ventures and new business acquisitions, to managing regulatory relationships and building compliance programs. 

Following this, I rejoined the Hong Kong Exchange as Head of Market Surveillance & Monitoring, where I spearheaded the digital transformation of the market surveillance function and implemented the first Exchange rule enforcement program. Concurrently, I served as the Structured Product Champion and led the development of new products and market micro-infrastructure.

2. Tell us about a proud moment for you in your career?

Last year (2020) I reached key milestones in my career – not only that I am proud of, but that will make a significant contribution to the industry. While I was Structured Product Champion for the Hong Kong Exchange, my product and platform won two best in Asia awards by SRP/Euromoney – “Most Innovative Solution (Inline Warrants)” and “Best Structured Products and Derivatives Exchange”. 

In the same year, I was involved in driving the concept of Structured Product Connect between the Hong Kong and Mainland exchanges, facilitating the listing of structured products linked to China A-shares in Hong Kong to strengthen the city’s role as the regional leading offshore Renminbi finance centre.  As a result of my participation in this initiative, I was nominated and appointed as a member of the Policy Research Committee of a government-sponsored organization, the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC), in Hong Kong. 

In addition, I landed my next career opportunity with Citadel as their APAC Chief Compliance Officer.  Overall, 2020 was a year of exciting career achievements for me.

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

My secret to staying on top of my game is my desire to constantly learn and improve. Since the beginning of my career, I have found that the quickest way to gain respect from peers and colleagues is to be really good at my job. Staying focused and always being prepared, while identifying and filling my skill and knowledge gaps, is important to me. I have invested heavily in education after graduation so that I can always stay qualified and relevant to my profession.

At the same time, I have worked with talented individuals who continue to bridge my skill and knowledge gaps. Working on well-rounded, high-performing teams who push each other to go the extra step and think outside of the box has served me well in my career.

I also have a passion for driving market structure and regulatory changes that encourage transparency and level the playing field. I am excited to be able to play a meaningful role in advancing market development as a member of the Policy Research Committee with the FSDC.

4. 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 am very lucky to have worked for amazing bosses throughout my career who were not only my mentors, but also my sponsors. On the one hand, they gave me opportunities to take up increased responsibilities and visibility to senior stakeholders. On the other hand, they consistently gave me guidance and advice to navigate the complex nuances of the workplace. This has played a significant role in building up my confidence as well as advancing my career.   

As a result of these valuable mentorship experiences, I am a strong believer in staff engagement.  Despite my busy work schedule, I constantly remind myself to invest in personal interactions with my team members – to find out what makes them tick, how best to develop their talents, and how to help them advance in their personal and career development.