Nicole Lee, CFAVice President, BlackRock Global Product Group, shares with WiFA who she admires, her experience with mentors and volunteerism, and much more.

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization. 

Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am the first member of my immediate family to study abroad. A steam engine project at school inspired me to study Engineering and subsequently intern in various engineering and pharmaceutical firms. Never would I have thought of joining finance at the start of college. Attracted by meeting clients from different industries and the dynamic market, I began my career as a management trainee at DBS Bank and later moved to the Global Product Group at BlackRock. At BlackRock the most exciting aspect of my role is the opportunity to collaborate with teams from across different parts of the world to share knowledge, solve problems and deliver innovative new products and investment solutions to our clients.

Please tell us how you or someone in your life that you admire provided hope or healing to the family or community.

That has to be my sister. She is a doctor in the local hospital and has been serving in the COVID wards. With the long hours and shortage of staff, she works in a stressful environment especially as cases have surged over the past few months. Her phone number has also become our family and friend’s hotline when someone is feeling unwell. Regardless of the audience, she will always try her best to identify possible causes or treatment. Though I have not seen her in action, the chocolates she has received from patients are a good reflection of how people have benefited from her care. She has all my respect and I would also like to thank all medical staff for their dedication during the pandemic.

Mentors play an important role in the developments of many careers. If you have/had a mentor, what is the one take away message or inspiration that he/she passed on to you?

My mentor was one of the senior panellists from my trainee days. I can vividly remember the first day she walked into the analyst class and shared the 5 “L”eadership traits – Listen, Learn, Link, Leverage and Laugh. Frankly, as a fresh-faced analyst I did not resonate with her vision at the time. During our recent discussions, she reminded me of the 5”Ls” again. As simple as the terms may be, these actions have helped me navigate through one challenge after another. When I look back on my first role, I distinctly remember the feeling of impostor syndrome that consumed me as a young analyst. Now, with the support of numerous mentorships and inspired by greater confidence in my abilities, I have seen a shift in my mindset and those feelings of not deserving my seat at the table are a distant memory.

The pandemic continues to bring new challenges into our homes and workplace. How are you adapting to these changes in terms of volunteering within your community or workplace?

The pandemic has definitely changed how we work, communicate, and volunteer. I am an active member of my firm’s Women’s Initiative and Allies Network (WIN). We have developed new trainings that support junior women with the necessary tools to ask for and advance what they want more effectively and with less anxiety in a real life and virtual environment. Aside from fireside chats, we have also created podcasts to extend the messages so that people working in different time zones can also benefit. Outside of work, I recently volunteered with the Girls Go Tech program organised by The Women’s Foundation, where we virtually meet with young girls in Hong Kong to help maximise their future career options in STEM related subjects.