Women's Day Special: Celebrating female CEOs in asset management

In the third story celebrating International Women's Day, we feature six extraordinary women leaders who reveal the secrets to success in a highly competitive and demanding industry.
Women's Day Special: Celebrating female CEOs in asset management

In the lead-up to International Women's Day on March 8, AsianInvestor spoke to a host of exceptional women in asset management across the region.

The global asset management industry is still highly male-dominated, yet there are some women who have made it to key leadership roles despite several challenges along the way.

Different paths, inspirations and philosophies have brought these women to where they are today. They are agents of change, and they exemplify empowerment, resilience and an industry undergoing deep transformation.

Today, we highlight six top women executives in the investments industry. This is the final story in a three-part series.

They’ve done it – they’ve made it to the top.

As CEOs of their companies, these women are truly extraordinary – and rare in the global and regional asset management industry.

Yet there is growing consensus that gender diversity can and does have a positive influence on company performance.  

This story focuses on the secrets of success from six top women executives from across the Asia Pacific.


All the female CEOs that AsianInvestor spoke to said that taking calculated risks, especially early on, helped them move ahead later.

'Be brave and take on new challenges, even when you don’t feel fully ready,' was their advice.

Angelia Chin-Sharpe
BNP Paribas AM

“Don’t be afraid to raise your hand to be considered for a role. Often, women feel they need to tick all the boxes before they say ‘I’m ready for this’,” BNP Paribas Asset Management's Singapore CEO Angelia Chin-Sharpe, who has more than two decades of banking and asset management experience.

“Give yourself a chance to be considered for the role.”

Often, women start out being more timid or passive but they learn to evolve, noted Dora Seow, CEO for Natixis Investment Managers Singapore.

“There will be knocks along the way but those are also the times when you learn the most.”

Seow has a wide-ranging career that has included roles ranging from head of portfolio administration to institutional distribution.

PGIM Investments' Asia Head Jessica Jones – who has lived and worked in several countries -- said she became very comfortable with change and adapting to new environments from an early age.

“It’s tempting to stay in the safest option because you are scared of making a mistake or damaging your professional reputation by asking for change or a relocation. But you have to learn to take calculated risks,” she said, adding that she pushed for that very early in her career by asking to be relocated to the Asia Pacific from Europe.

A former Goldman Sachs Asset Management veteran, Jones has established a solid track record of entering new markets and creating talented teams.

Importantly, ambitious women shouldn’t leave career progression to chance.

“Investing in your career also means investing in yourself and your wellbeing to help to keep your energy levels up because it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” said Kylie Rampa, CEO of Australian investment manager QIC.

“Becoming a CEO often takes decades of experiences. Building resilience and taking the time to invest in the infrastructure you need to support your career are key ingredients to being successful.”

Resilience is an important characteristic of successful leaders.
Image credit: Shutterstock


Another piece of advice from these top executives: have an open mind and get involved in basic tasks to learn as much as possible, especially in the early career stage.

“When I first started out in consultancy, I did everything from scratch - performance analytics, data analysis, performance reporting, etc.," noted BEA Union Investment Management CEO Janet Li.

Janet Li
BEA Union IM

"If you want your career to continue to develop at a later stage, having a solid foundation is very important."

Li is very well-known in investment circles and was previously wealth business leader for Asia at consultant Mercer.

Working hard to deliver successful outcomes, of course, is a given.  

“Whether you are male or female, delivering results is very important,” said BNP Paribas AM’s Chin-Sharpe. “Every manager above you wants to see your ability to deliver results.”

To do that, women must develop confidence in their abilities and what they bring to the table.

“I would encourage women to believe in themselves and that they are as good as men. Of course, it’s important to work hard and sharpen their skill sets, especially in the early stage of their careers. But as long as you stay focused on the outcome and continue to work hard, you will find your success,” added BEA Union IM’s Li.

She also believes it is important to always keep learning, noting that the CEO role gave her an excellent opportunity to expand her horizons.


Dora Seow
Natixis IM

The role of the CEO and what it means to be a leader has also evolved. 

As Natixis IM’s Seow noted, it’s not about being the most popular person in the room but about taking tough, swift yet thoughtful decisions when needed.

"Good leadership gains respect and will eventually be highly regarded – you will be seen as someone who makes the decisions that are needed," she added.

Clear communication is another requirement, according to PGIM Investments' Jones.  

“You have to constantly communicate your vision and goals as well as motivate the team and engage clients. It’s also important to tailor your communication approach – different people respond and learn differently,” she noted.

Hiring talented people and motivating them are other characteristics of strong leaders.

“A leader can only be as good if the people they surround themselves with are smarter than them. A leader can never be a success if they are alone, success comes because there is a great team,” said BEA UI’s Li.

Beyond the technical capabilities and experience, having good peer relationships is also crucial.

"You need to demonstrate that as well as being a good leader, you are now ready to take on broader commercial objectives for the organisation while on your leadership journey,” said QIC’s Rampa, who has worked with both investment and business strategy teams in her career.

“As a leader, it’s about knowing how to connect with the organisation to ensure everyone understands what direction they are heading in. Having a strong relationship with your board is also important to make sure there is alignment from the chair and all levels of the organisation.”

The role of leaders in the asset management industry is evolving rapidly, senior women executives told AsianInvestor. Image credit: Shutterstock


All the female executives that AsianInvestor spoke to emphasised the need to find sponsors to help move up in the organisation.

“You need supportive managers and sponsors around you – people who will speak up for you when you are not there. I’ve been privileged that I continue to have very supportive managers who want to see me do well,” said PGIM Investments' Jones.

Kylie Rampa

The need to network and build support within the organisation beyond the direct boss is critical, according to these executives.

“You need to work at getting that exposure to others in your organisation and building those relationships,” said QIC’s Rampa.

Working in a male-dominated industry, most of them have experienced being the sole woman in big corporate meetings, especially early in their careers. 

“As a woman, I have faced challenges speaking up in male-dominated environments,” said HSBC Asset Management's Asia Pacific and Hong Kong CEO Daisy Ho.

Daisy Ho

“To support our fellow women staff, I advocate a ‘speak up’ culture and the provision of training on voicing opinions.”

“Confidence is key and perseverance is my motto,” Ho added.


There’s no denying that when people are passionate about something, they are likely to be intense about it. Lean into it, said Natixis IM’s Seow.

“That’s not a bad thing but remember to play hard as well. Have some fun! Because everyone wants a leader that they like being around.”

Jessica Jones
PGIM Investments

“One of the best pieces of advice I got from one of my managers was that people want to work with people they like," added PGIM Investments' Jones.

"Of course, you need technical knowledge, skills, understanding of the market and clients, etc., but ultimately people are going to work with you because they enjoy working with you."

Most importantly, don’t forget to pay it forward.

“As you climb up the corporate ladder, always remember what it was like for you in the early days of your career. You’ve got a role to mentor and support fellow women and their career journey and their aspirations because as you move up, you can inspire and guide others,” said Jones.

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