Growing Professionally and as a Mother – Interview with Vivian Diao from State Street, Hangzhou
State Street entered the Asia-Pacific market over 30 years ago. It has since built a strong presence in Greater China with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Hangzhou. It offers an array of financial services across the investment spectrum to institutional investors, including investment servicing, investment research and trading and investment management. The company is committed to strengthening the resilience of the global financial system and helping China deepen its capital markets, an affirmation echoed by the State Street Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ronald O’Hanley during the China Development Forum in March.
We talked to Vivian Diao, head of Global Process Delivery, who is located in Hangzhou, about the career opportunities within State Street, growth of the Hangzhou hub and tips for building a successful career in finance.
Jumping on the opportunity wagon
Before joining State Street, Vivian had over 13 years of experience in operations across client onboarding, cash management, wealth management, anti-money laundering and business planning in first-tier international banks.
“State Street is a well-known financial institution and ranks high among global custodian banks. It’s a great platform for further development, which is what attracted me to the firm,” she says.
Currently, Vivian leads a large-scale group to support its overall operations, including corporate actions, income, derivatives, reconciliation, security pricing, unlisted investments, unit registry and custody business. “Although the investment servicing and management business is growing exponentially in China, there are only a handful of experts in the field. Hence, joining State Street was and still is a great opportunity,” she continues.
State Street offers a broad scope of roles in areas ranging from core custody, accounting and fund administration to servicing for alternative assets, such as private equity, real estate and investment monitoring. Those with a background in technology can seek opportunities within Global Technology Solutions, which drives the company’s digital transformation through industry best practices and advanced technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence and robotics process automation as well as cybersecurity.
Make your mark on the future of finance
The Hangzhou office was established in 2005 and has since grown to be the north star of company operations in mainland China and a key component of State Street’s technological innovation and financial services in the Asia-Pacific as well as globally. Currently, the office employs more than 3000 professionals who combine State Street’s global experience with their local knowledge of multiple markets to serve the world’s largest institutional investors. “We are an important driver of our organization’s strategy to leverage global scale and expertise to meet our clients’ increasingly complex needs. We are now on our way to becoming a knowledge center that provides more value-added services to our clients,” says Vivian.
This creates a unique opportunity for employees to gain overall understanding of all industry segments, fund structures and securities types, and bring a deep understanding of the practices in their geography and business domain. “We look for employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who will thrive in an entrepreneurial culture and contribute to our long-term success. If you’re driven by change and innovation and are a team player, you will be a great fit,” Vivian adds.
Championing inclusion and gender balance
State Street is known for its efforts to challenge the business and industry standards when it comes to facilitating a workplace environment that welcomes diversity. “My team is diverse and our leadership team has talents from Korea, India, Denmark, Malaysia, Hong Kong and mainland China. They bring in different perspectives and create a great atmosphere to learn from each other and broaden the team’s horizon,” notes Vivian.
Another way in which State Street is fostering an inclusive workplace is by making it easy for employees to connect with those who share similar interests and perspectives. In the Hangzhou office, there are various committees to support employee engagement, inclusion and volunteering. For example, Environmental Sustainability Employee Network, Employee Engagement Committee, Mentoring Program, Professional Women’s Network, Community Support Program, Toastmaster Club, Working Parent Groups, Recharge Clubs. All these groups are sponsored and supported by senior management and led by employees.
“State Street strongly supports women leadership and our Professional Women’s Network helps women focus on career development, work-life balance and addressing workplace challenges. The company has a fair, open, transparent and inclusive environment to encourage innovation and open discussion with employees. As a woman in a leadership role, I feel respected in the firm,” adds Vivian.
Growing professionally and as a mother
Vivian manages to balance her leadership role along with being a mother of two children, aged six years and seven months. “It is critical for me to take care of my children and see them grow. I cannot compromise on this. During my work week, my calendar is generally full and I work smartly to enhance my productivity,” she says. “I fully utilize my time to meet my job priorities, while I never compromise my role as a mother.”
State Street is fully supportive when it comes to allowing flexible working hours as well as working from home. The State Street Working Parents Group, led by employees, arranges events and sessions to support working mothers and fathers and helps them achieve work-life balance. For Vivian, this means starting work earlier at 8 a.m. and going back home at 4.30 p.m. to pick up her daughter from kindergarten. When needed, Vivian finds some time in the evening to check her work emails. However, everyone needs to find their own pattern. “Flexible working hours assist me in maintaining a work-life balance and give me comfort and confidence to work here and grow with State Street in the long run,” she notes.
Vivian’s advice when it comes to advancing one’s career as a woman is to keep a courageous mindset. “Be courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone, be courageous enough to challenge yourself to be better, have the courage to acknowledge your shortcomings and be courageous enough to self-reflect,” concludes Vivian.
Ready to make your mark? Learn more about career opportunities in finance and technology at State Street here.