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Leadership is the responsibility to take care of those around us and build constant improvement into our teams. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate our team and share some of the stories that make our women leaders.
Provide a brief background to your career path. What are the driving factors that motivate you? Has this changed post-COVID?
I spent the first twenty years of my career at two central banks in Asia, managing their fixed income portfolios. Then I joined Jamieson Coote Bonds in largely the same role as a portfolio manager and to set up our Singapore office. As a portfolio manager, my role has always been to deliver performance to our investors, within risk parameters. COVID brought back challenging market conditions. I’m proud to say that our team cooperated so well and proved that we can deliver the synergy and the performance in all market conditions. What has changed post-COVID is probably the human side of business. In the beginning of the COVID crisis, we focused on ensuring physical safety of our team, such as procuring masks, when masks were in shortage. We adapted to working with kids at home, kids chiming in during our team calls. Then, as lockdown went on and on, we shifted our focus to supporting each other mentally. Being stuck at home in isolation can really take its toll on you, with or without kids!
How do you inspire others around you?
I enlisted my colleagues to help me answer this question. Their feedback surprised me in a positive way. First of all, seeing a woman in a key decision-making role shows the next generation the enormous possibilities available. I think it’s important to make sure that we have gender diversity all the way to the boardroom. A young female intern recently questioned whether there is a long career path in a male-dominated industry − myself and my female colleagues are proof that there is! I steer my team through challenges and tough times and offer support through positive encouragement and guidance whenever I can.
What is one key theme or investment idea for the year ahead?
Bond markets began the year with the reflation and fiscal stimulus theme. The direction of higher bond yields is a healthy re-pricing of yields, which is to be expected as we switch from pandemic to recovery, if not global synchronized growth. The manner of getting there needs some tactful adjustment, as positions are capitulated, generating volatility in rates that we have not seen in sometime. As US inflation is supposed to peak at 3% in April and Australian inflation will also likely peak at 3% mid-year, we should soon see the peak in bond yields sometime in the second quarter. We definitely have pent-up demand globally. What is a bit more unclear is the inflationary pressure from how soon the supply chain can bounce back right after the pandemic. If supply turns out to be more inelastic, then inflation can persist a bit, that is, months not years. Structurally, multi-year horizon factors such as an aging population, technology, or higher debt levels have not changed our broader outlook on yields.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a time to recognise women’s contribution to the world and is a reflection of equal rights in our society. This year’s theme highlights women in leadership. The pandemic has given female leaders the opportunity to excel through the crisis, from Angela Merkel who has been the anchor of the European Union to Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, and Taiwan’s Prime Minister, Tsai Ing-wen just to name a few. Simultaneously, I’d like to highlight leadership at home, women who are the primary homemakers, as my mom is, or single mothers who have to manage the busy demands of both work and children. All jobs, great or small, are worth some appreciation. I am also supported by friends who are of the LGBT community. I’d like to see a future where we can appreciate one another and have equal opportunity to succeed professionally and in society, regardless of gender.