Ivy Wong is Partner of Baker McKenzie. In her 2021 Spotlight Series Interview, she discusses what drew her to a career in finance, proud moments in her career and much more.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a capital markets lawyer and my practice focuses on IPOs. I advise investors on pre-IPO investments and companies on their initial offerings, subsequent equity and debt fund raisings, spin-offs, expansions, compliance, and practically everything else thereafter. I am curious and spontaneous and love to explore life and challenge myself (sometimes I wondered why I always seem to have chosen a more difficult path than an easier one! It’s perhaps my curiosity that prompted me to try what’s unknown and unpredictable). I have lived and studied in Hong Kong, Canada and London, done summer courses in the US, France and Mainland China, and am qualified in law in Hong Kong, New York and the UK. Outside of work, I love ballet, because as elegant and delicate as it may seem, it’s actually a very challenging art form (some say it’s an intensive sport and I agree!). It is also very hard to master and perfect (and I still haven’t, which makes me keep going!).
2. What drew you to a career in finance? What has motivated you to stay?
It’s the challenge, the pace, the unpredictability and the volatility in the capital markets that make it exciting and interesting. Very often, we are racing against time and need to resolve issues and crises within a very short (and often ridiculous) timeframe, but that’s really stimulating and satisfying if you manage to beat time and the impossibility. So never say no until you have tried, and the results often, surprisingly or not so surprisingly, end with a satisfying yes.
3. Tell us about a proud moment for you in your career?
In my early career, I joined a US firm that all my lawyer friends told me not to at the time because they all said it would be too demanding and stressful. I ended up working there for 9 years. Another one is when I took up the role as the first female APAC Chair of the Capital Markets Group and the first female APAC representative on the Capital Markets Global Steering Committee at Baker McKenzie. Advising clients in unprecedented offerings of depositary receipts, secondary listings and dual listings in Hong Kong history are also proud moments in my career.
4. How do you stay on top of your professional game? Any tips on how you keep your competitive edge?
You need to be open-minded and not afraid of change. You also need to believe that every issue has a solution to it and there’re always opportunities out there. You just need to be creative and never stop looking. Keeping abreast of the changes in the market and connecting with people are also important for staying on top of the professional game.
5. Think back to when you were starting out your career. What advice would you give your younger self?
Ironically, as much as I said I’m a curious and spontaneous person, I would have wanted myself to be even more spontaneous and embrace the challenges and unknown with wider open arms, especially when it comes to bigger decisions in life. I had thought (twice!) of becoming an investment banker in my career life, but each time, I missed the opportunity because I had wanted to either complete the projects on hand, finish a vacation or think twice before I leap. Then the market turned and I never did. Now I am always curious how life might have been had I been more spontaneous and embraced whatever new opportunities that came my way. While I think I’m probably now too senior to change, life has taught me never say never.