WiFA Intern 2021: Kayla Chhin

When I was given the opportunity to participate in the WiFA’s Spotlight Series for the month of March in honour of International Women’s Day, I was intrigued. I was excited to put faces to the names of women who were helping shape the future of the financial services industry for young women like me. I was impatient to hear their stories, learn about their pasts, and their future.When I first started interviewing, what intrigued me the most was learning about the very diverse paths of how the interviewees found their careers in finance. From stories like Sharon Leung-Pliner, who graduated from university with a degree in Medical Biotechnology and started her career in product sales to Kristie Wong who had previously worked for companies like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal, who is now at BlackRock. Many of the paths that the interviewees have taken have been unexpected and surprising. But one thing is clear: this sector does attract the best and brightest.Another common trait that I observed during my interviews was the innate curiosity and desire to learn by these women. Whether it be Bei Zhou, whose “motivation is always driven by opportunities to learn” or Garbo Cheung, who said she stays on top of her professional game by her “desire to constantly learn and improve”, the continuous desire for intellectual stimulation is a driving factor for many women.In the interviewing process, many questions were posed, but a singularity that I saw throughout so many interviews was the desire for the interviewees to highlight their mentors, and the important role that they played in their career development. Rosalind Chin, discussed how she met her first mentor through WiFA. All interviewees agreed that creating a strong supportive network around you is paramount in your professional success. As Rebecca Sin asserted, “if you can trust and like the people you work with, it makes the job a lot more fun and worthwhile, especially since the hours in finance are very long”. What is clear, is that unlike preconceived notions I had about the industry, it is at its core, a people business.Clearly, the future is bright for women in finance in Asia. As Maggy Chan stated, “there is no other industry which so consistently draws such intelligent, talented, and diverse people and perspectives together into one space”. These interviews have shown me what resilience, hard work, gumption and tenacity can bring, and I feel very fortunate now to be able to look at the world, finance related or not, through their perspectives.