Member of the Month – Chen Rao

Meet the July 2019 FWA Member of the Month and see what she is doing in the financial community.

Chen Rao

Please tell us about your FWA journey so far!
My initial exposure to the FWA was through the Wall Street Exchange Program (WSE) in the summer of 2013. At the time, I was interning at BNP Paribas’ New York office. Our HR partners promoted this complementary talent development program to all interns. I applied right away, as I believed it would enhance my summer internship experience. My WSE cohort was comprised of high-caliber, driven peers from diverse backgrounds. I am still in touch with some of them and we act as each other’s sounding board to this day. It was through this program that I had an opportunity to see what the FWA has to offer as a professional association.

Since 2014, I have been a WSE Committee Member – this is my way of giving back to our community. I then became a Global Agenda Committee Member, with a focus on the latest trends and topics in today’s interconnected global economy. This year, I was thrilled to be part of the working group to organize the FWA’s third Annual Summit: ‘A Rising Tide: Corporate Citizenship’. This theme is extremely relevant, as corporate citizenship for many working professionals is not merely a slogan, but a way of life.

This spring, I joined the US delegation for the FWA’s 2019 International Business Conference in India and spent a week in Mumbai and New Delhi. It was my first time on such a trip, and I made many new connections. This trip opened my eyes to India’s commerce opportunities as well as its rich cultures. It was the ultimate learning experience.

What were your main takeaways from the Wall Street Exchange Program?
One key takeaway for me was developing soft skills early would turbocharge one’s career in this industry. I recall vividly our workshop facilitator introducing my cohort to concepts from the elevator pitch to making a great first impression.

Another takeaway I learned was the importance in having a proactive attitude because it makes all the difference. WSE was a success because of the efforts put forth by each individual. We asked thoughtful questions. We contributed our intellectual capacity. We also leveraged on each other’s strength. While the facilitators were there to provide guidance, it was equally important for the participants to offer insights through “peer mentorship”. I try to bring this proactive attitude into my personal and professional lives, trying to add value whenever possible.

What sets the FWA apart?
When it comes to the FWA, I always observe exceptional professionalism. The FWA has a rich history in accelerating the leadership and success of women – 63 years of servicing the financial industry really says something about this organization’s commitment to the cause.

The second thing that sets the FWA apart from other volunteer-led organizations is that it has a wide network of industrial veterans who are willing to mentor junior members. Ever since I joined the FWA, I was fortunate to find amazing mentors who shared invaluable knowledge and experiences with me and gave suggestions for improvement.

Tell us about you and your career.
I immigrated to Canada from China at the age of 14. While attending the Richard Ivey Business School, I interned at BNP Paribas and later, returned as a full-time Analyst. I was exposed to Business Management and Prime Brokerage funding before moving to my current position as a Global Markets Treasury Officer within the firm’s Corporate & Institutional Banking division.

Aside from my day job, I enjoy public speaking. I attained the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) title from Toastmasters International 7 years after I joined as a member. As part of my corporate citizenship involvement, I now coach others to become more effective speakers without compromising their authenticity.

What are the top takeaways from your career so far? 

  1. Be goal-oriented and always deliver. Your track record will lead to more opportunities. Setting the right objectives and focusing on the desired results can help you find creative approaches to problem-solving.
  2. Do not hesitate to seek mentorship and guidance. Be proactive in seeking out role models who continue to inspire, challenge, and champion you.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength in your life and why?
Sheryl Sandberg. She is intentional, authentic, and graceful. Her book, Lean In, taught me that it is critical to seek leadership opportunities in one’s career. It is paramount to be your authentic self and to stay focused.

Do you have any book to recommend our FWA community?
How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen. This book inspired me to reflect on what it takes to foster cultural changes. It also gave me a different perspective on decision-making.

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