1. Can you tell us about your work experience journey? Has it been a linear path to reach your current position?
I have been with SGX for about 24 years, having joined the exchange in 1996 as a software developer. While I have spent the majority of my time in the technology field, my role has certainly not been linear and I have had great opportunities at SGX to work in different roles and try different things. For example, I spent a few years leading our Market Data and Connectivity business before returning to head up our Technology business. These different roles have help me better understand how technology impacts all areas of our business and I am much more attuned to the technology needs of our people as I have walked a mile in their shoes.
In my current role as Chief Technology Officer I am responsible for the overall planning, development and implementation of technology platforms as well as how these systems impact and improve not only our business, but also our interoperability with our clients’ platforms, so that our marketplace operates safely, securely and efficiently.
It is a common misconception that career paths need to be linear to achieve success. Lateral movements, and sometimes even taking a step back, can open many new doors and exciting opportunities. In the fast-moving technology and digital worlds this is especially true and people will continue to discover, learn and build on their experience in different ways. I would encourage anyone considering a slightly different career move to go for it. Experience is the most valuable ingredient for success.
2. Have you worked with any mentors or coaches during your career? And do you mentor or coach anyone at the moment?
I have worked with a number of coaches throughout my career and always found their guidance very useful. I have found it is important to seek feedback and advice from people completely unrelated from personal and work life, as otherwise this feedback is likely to be coated in the context of your relationship. In addition, I try to use colleagues, teams and my fellow executive team members as sounding boards and regularly seek and give advice, both as a mentee and as a mentor.
3. Who is your most important role model?
Melinda Gates as a technologist, philanthropist and an author has been encouraging many women in the computing field for decades. She is a great source of inspiration for me as well.
4. How did you know you wanted to work for an exchange or CCP? Was this always a career aspiration?
I never grew up wanting to work for an exchange in particular. However, since joining SGX I have not been able to find a single reason to explore opportunities elsewhere. As a multi-asset exchange operating equity, fixed income and derivatives markets to the highest regulatory standards, there is so much to learn and so many opportunities to grow. Even after two decades of very meaningful time and experiences, my job still feels new and exciting, it is as if it’s constantly being reinvented.
5. What advice would you give to other women who want to develop their careers and gain leadership positions in financial services firms?
To every other women reading this feature, I would say that even today, after the significant progress over the last decade, there are still very few women in leadership positions. This is particularly true for tech roles in financial services firms where technology is a crucial enabler. There are many opportunities just waiting for you! All you need to do is dedicate your mind to it and seize the opportunities in front of you.
To all the men out there, a humble request: please pledge to encourage at least one woman you know to aspire to or take up a leadership position in technology. It is important to not only hear from other women that it’s possible, it is important to hear it from the men around them too. A diverse team, not just in terms of gender, but also nationality, race and religion, brings unique insight, skills and strengths that will ultimately deliver better business outcomes.