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Women leaders in fintech

25 women leaders in Hong Kong fintech: day three

We conclude our profiles of women leaders, plus views from headhunter Warwick Pearmund.



Today concludes our project highlighting women leaders in Hong Kong fintech, which was conducted with the support of InvestHK. Tomorrow we’ll run a list with all 25 people. Our women-leaders project will remain free to all visitors to our site.

To accompany this project, we asked Warwick Pearmund, a headhunter at Pure Search, to tell us the implications for talent when there remains such a skewed gender ratio in fintech roles.

Megan Pillsbury, Morgan Stanley

With an education in engineering, Megan Pillsbury naturally gravitated to high-tech companies and startups – but now she’s helping drive innovation within a major financial institution…READ HER STORY

Emily Randall, Edge Technology

Emily Randall has pursued a career in financial technology as it has transformed. As the MD and head of Asia Pacific at Edge Technology Group, she is at the center of cloud and cyber-security…READ HER STORY

Josianne Robb, on the move

Josianne Robb thought her career was over before it had even begun: a junior operations person at Euroclear in her native Belgium, she entered the wrong information on a ledger and cost the firm $18 million…READ HER STORY

Pearmund writes:

As the father of two young girls I am, of course, interested in their hopes and dreams. I will certainly do everything that I can to help ensure they have access to the right opportunities, and access to the role models to help them make their own decisions.

In my day job, as a recruiter for advanced technologies, these are the two themes that crop up, time and again, when people ask me about the under representation of women in technology.

Cat Rüst, UBS Wealth Management

The biggest surprise Cat Rüst experienced when she moved from the world of tech startups to that of banking came about three months into her job. She had just joined UBS Wealth Management…READ HER STORY

Maxine Ryan, Spark

Maxine Ryan studied international relations in Australia, but upon graduation, “Nothing interested me.” She returned to her native Hong Kong and a friend introduced her to crypto – and she was hooked…READ HER STORY

Jessica Wu, MetLife

In 2008, Jessica Wu got her dream job. A technology graduate from university in Canada, she had begun a career in software sales at IBM before returning to her native Hong Kong as a contractor at HSBC…READ HER STORY

First: Why is it that, in a sector that is expanding across all industries, and in an environment that, in many countries, favours female empowerment, technology is failing to keep pace? It is not for lack of opportunity. If anything my clients often go out of their way to ask for female representation on candidate shortlists.

Second: Do we lack role models? No. But there are far fewer senior female leaders in technology in Hong Kong, and regionally, than is ideal.

How can we facilitate change quickly and equitably?

Yvonne Yiu, HSBC

After twenty years of running cash-management businesses, Yvonne Yiu this summer took on the role of head of global liquidity and cash management for Hong Kong at HSBC…READ HER STORY

Amy Yu, BitMEX

Amy Yu grew up in Texas. “I’m from ‘Houston, we have a problem’ Houston,” she said: her mother was a NASA programmer. Yu didn’t want to follow in those footsteps: she felt the action was in finance…READ HER STORY

Nina Zhou, Swiss Re

Nina Zhou built a career in investment banking in the U.S. and Asia before making the jump to fintech, joining CreditEase, then one of the pioneering peer-to-peer lending marketplaces…READ HER STORY

Companies are finally realizing the importance of work/life balance and adjusting their policies accordingly. Competition is part of this driver, as China and America’s biggest tech companies have become employers of choice. If traditional industries want to keep themselves attractive to the brightest and the best then they too have to focus on flexible working arrangements, family considerations and other non-monetary selling points.

Despite best intentions, the truth about recruiting women executives is that there is a shallower pool to draw from. We need, therefore, to look at the reasons for the imbalance and how we can address this. Girls routinely outperform boys in secondary education and yet there is a massive disparity of men and women reading for technical degrees in university. For those that do graduate and move into the high-tech industry, the quit rate is more than twice as high for women (41 percent) than it is for men (17 percent), according to the U.S. National Center for Women & Information Technology.

Therefore we must start at a younger age. Although information technology is an accepted part of children’s education, programming and gaming are too often seen as boys’ hobbies. We need to get girls coding, gaming and tinkering from a young age to develop a love of technology. Open source and APIs should come as naturally to my daughters as riding bikes.

The good news is that people are acting on these needs. The Talent & Diversity Committee of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong, which I co-chair, works with universities at the post- and undergraduate levels to incorporate fintech into business degrees. We are working on initiatives to get children, boys and girls, to visit innovation labs and other projects that show how tech embraces the wider world – that it matters, and is exciting.

Finally we are supporting ideas like DigFin’s profiling of women leaders in Hong Kong fintech – because it’s not enough to simply groom future entrepreneurs and execs, but to show young people that the role models they want to emulate are here now, and that they are the new normal.

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