This is an interview I conducted with Emily Tam for WIBF magazine.
This month Rosalind Brabner caught up with Cambridge graduate, Emily Tam to find out what it is really like to be a Fresh Face in finance.
Tell Us About Yourself?
I studied economics at Cambridge and once I had graduated I looked for jobs in either banking or accounting. I was drawn to accounting as there were opportunities to gain qualifications and train whilst working. So for three years I was involved with a work and study programme and am now a qualified accountant. I’ve really benefitted from this as I’ve developed transferable skills and am now an executive for Ernst and Young.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
Right now I manage engagements; I’m working with different clients and portfolios of investments as well as being in charge of junior staff. When I first started I was confident about dealing with the technical side of things but it turns I actually enjoy interacting with clients the most.
Do you find being a woman in banking and finance a challenge?
I do still find it a masculine dominated industry, for example I was on a training course this week and out of the 25 people on the course there were only 6 women in the class. You have to be quite strong in this industry but my company hold meetings and seminars especially for women to meet other women in the same work environment and were able to discuss the challenges that we face. I do feel that women are being supported in this industry and that is important to me as there is still a pattern of male dominance as you move up the career ladder in finance.
What do you think has contributed to your success in this industry?
It is the full experience I’ve had in the company, I learnt a great deal and feel valued by my team. Being from Hong Kong I think I look differently at things, I have much more of an international perspective for example I look at the bigger scale, I think about the global view and I know that makes me stand out. Two of the best career achievements last year for me were travelling to Madrid and Milan on business and I’d love more opportunities to travel with work.
What are some of the more important criteria you look for in a choosing career?
I want to know that I’ll be able to progress and develop new skills. As an Asian woman I need to know I’m in a diverse and global company. Diversity is important to me as I want to know I’ll be recognised in the work place. Also I think it is important for companies to encourage flexible work hours, a company that doesn’t expect you to work very long hours so your able to control your own time.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In the summer I play tennis but most of my spare time is spent socialising with friends. I like inviting people over for dinner and just hanging out and having fun with good company.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I hope to stay with the company hopefully with the opportunity to make senior management and I’d also really like to work in another country, either China or the US.