The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Glenda So, Co-Head of Markets, HKEX Group

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2022

Member: HKEX Group

Nominee’s name:  Glenda So

Nominee’s job title: Co-Head of Markets

1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:

Glenda So was appointed co-head of markets at HKEX in July 2021, with responsibility for sales and marketing, equities product development, structured product development, FIC product development, global commodities product development, emerging business development and post trade services. Glenda joined HKEX in February 2020 as head of post trade, where she was responsible for the clearing, settlement, custody, risk management and surveillance functions across different asset classes within the Hong Kong market.

Glenda is a member of the HKEX management committee and reports directly to Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Aguzin.

2. - Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):

Before joining HKEX, Glenda spent four years as COO of a macro hedge fund in Singapore. Before that, she had a 23-year career with Goldman Sachs, where she was a managing director responsible for overseeing a sizeable operations team, including Global Listed Derivatives and OTC clear operations, Asia Securities and Clearing Operations and Asia Ex-Japan Operations.

As Glenda continued to progress in her career, she reached a stage where she wished to leverage the expertise and skills she had acquired over the years to make an impact on capital markets. That landed her where she is now – a leading global operator located in an international financial centre that she calls home: Hong Kong.

Glenda holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance from Baruch College, The City University of New York, USA.

Glenda loves hiking and regularly volunteers at local animal shelters.

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2021 (ie why should you be on this list):

In the second year of the global pandemic, the market continued to be fast-changing and volatile. As a market operator and one of the leading global exchanges, our job is to deliver liquid, vibrant and resilient markets for investors across the world to trade, transact and manage risks whatever the prevailing conditions. As a super-connector between China and the world, it is also our job to provide effective and efficient infrastructure that allows seamless two-way capital flows into and out of China.

So, in addition to focusing on my day-to-day duties, I am trying to anticipate mid- and long-term changes on the horizon, be it regulatory changes, macro risks, etc., and ensure that we have market infrastructure in place to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. My team is also always on the front foot in responding to the changes and “pain points” of market participants, in order to make our markets more attractive, efficient and customer-centric, strengthening Hong Kong’s role as an international financial centre.

During the year, we drove a number of key strategic and innovative initiatives, in particular leveraging new technology to expand and advance our post-trade and middle-office services.  

A good example of this is HKEX Synapse. In 2021, we started a pilot for Synapse, our Stock Connect settlement acceleration platform. This new DLT smart contract technology-based solution aims to streamline post-trade workflow on Northbound Stock Connect. It not only helps us build a competitive and resilient market, but creates a whole new way of looking at things by helping the international market meet China’s T+0 clearing requirements.

We also made a lot of headway with FINI (Fast Interface for New Issuance) last year ahead of our 2022 launch. FINI is a new platform that enables all IPO market participants and regulatory authorities to interact seamlessly and digitally on the many important steps that comprise the end-to-end settlement process for new listings in Hong Kong. This revolutionary upgrade changes the IPO cycle from T+5 to T+2. Moreover, it addresses the issue of excessive liquidity lock-up in heavily oversubscribed IPOs. This project encapsulates everything I want to achieve professionally, which is to modernise Hong Kong’s sizeable IPO market, and make it even more efficient, attractive and competitive. I am really proud of our achievements in this area, as well as many other key strategic initiatives that we have completed in 2021.

4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:

I am a reflective person. I find inspiration all around me. It could be something my manager said to me, a line I read in a book, or something I saw that made me think differently. These things imprint themselves in my head, and help to motivate me in my personal goals. Finding inspiration in the world around me helps me to be self-motivated and achieve the goals I set for myself.

I believe that it is important to set goals for ourselves and work towards them if we want to achieve professional success, and if truth be told in financial services, even more so for women, who may face additional challenges and unconscious bias. You need to be your own best competitor!

I remember one time a female leader at my former employer, small in stature, did a town hall for the entire company, and when she got up and gave her speech, she became a giant. That is leadership. That woman inspired me, because until that moment I always thought that you needed physical presence to really assert yourself in a presentation. But she changed in an instant from a small woman to a giant. She’s a constant reminder to me that as women we should shed our preconceptions about what it is possible to achieve.

5. - What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions:

I often feel that glass ceilings are self-imposed. The first thing that women in the workplace need to do is free themselves from preconceptions about what they can achieve. That’s not to say that women won’t face bias, but rather than self-perpetuate, we should be enablers and a force for change. If you don’t believe there’s a glass ceiling, then you’ll already be able to look at things differently and find ways to overcome any challenges you will face.


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.