Tegan Smyth is a Project Manager at Societe Generale and the Founder of Grassroots Future, a charitable institution that aims to build capacity among refugee-led initiatives through education, wellbeing and community outreach. In her 2021 Spotlight Series Tegan discusses women in finance traits, her passions, and much more. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself 

I trained as a lawyer and was admitted to practice in Australia but most of my career has been in Hong Kong. I also made a pivot from legal to compliance quite early on and have worked for a number of different financial institutions in both financial crime compliance and project management roles.  

In addition, I started Table of Two Cities (the precursor to Grassroots Future) as a community project in 2016, to give a platform for refugees to share their experiences in their own words through the medium of food. Refugee advocacy is actually how I started my career, since my legal training was in a community legal centre that served refugees and new migrants in Australia. I wanted to keep that interest alive despite no longer working in the legal field. TOTC is now an ongoing project under Grassroots Future, we received our charity status late last year.

What is one characteristic you would say that all women in finance share? 

I think generally women in finance are multi-hyphenate; beyond the daily grind, they may also be working on interesting projects or contributing to the community in some way. 

In a community like WIFA with proactive volunteers in many areas, it never ceases to amaze me what people are able to accomplish with such a small window of time each day. This grit and determination is something I think women in this industry share.

Aside from work, what are your other passions?

Most weekends are spent coordinating different activities for Grassroots Future with my wonderful team and volunteers.  

I also really enjoy creative writing. I am a poet and frequently (at least, pre-COVID) read my work at open mics and poetry events around town. My work has been published in The Economist, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, Twin Cities: an anthology of twin cinema from Singapore and Hong Kong.