Brenda Lau is the Head of Legal and Compliance at a global corporate bank. In her current role, Brenda provides Legal and Compliance support to the bank’s operations and their business partners.
Can you tell us about your career progression into your current role?
I began my career working in Accounting at banks, where I handled different kinds of regulatory reporting, working with regulators and the stock exchange. I found the tasks quite repetitive and seemed replaceable by automation tools, therefore, I wanted to look for work that would be more interactive, innovative and sustainable.
As the bank later looked at setting up a standalone Compliance team, I volunteered to join the unit which kickstarted my career in Compliance, something I have been committed to since then.
Looking back at your career to date, can you pinpoint when you first noticed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion at your company?
I noticed it when I first joined the company, they would offer opportunities to anyone who is willing to contribute, regardless of race or gender.
What are some factors that have helped you progress in your career?
Resilience, adaptability and always being a professional business partner.
Have you had any mentors/role models in your career? What's the value in having one?
I have had several mentors who have helped me immeasurably. It is important for individuals to be mentored by someone, enables them to achieve their most important goals.
As a mentor, what advice would you give to your mentees?
Entering a new working environment can be challenging and intimidating, having a mentor can help newcomers better manage the stakeholders and navigate the subtle inner workings of the organisation. As a mentor, some of the things I would advise my mentees on would be the corporate culture and the suitable ways of getting the job done.
How do you balance between your work and personal life?
I set clear priorities each day and stick to them. I also focus on the quality of output over the number of hours worked because working long hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. I have learnt to work efficiently during the day so that I can leave work at a reasonable hour and dedicate my time to things outside of work. In order to be innovative, creative and happy, we need to be well-rested.
Do you have any advice for working moms on how to progress and succeed?
For me, being passionate about the work I do is the key driving force. It will also help if you are enthusiastic about the impact you can make and enjoy the company of your colleagues. Apart from that, building trust with the people around you is critical because once you have that, new opportunities will arise.
What do you think are the benefits of having a diverse organisation or team?
The most direct benefit of diversity is the various perspectives it offers, which keeps organisations dynamic and helps lead to better business outcomes. When everyone in the team has similar profiles, it would create risks where some thoughts are not being valued, thus suppressing innovation.
What's your advice to leaders who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture?
It is important for people at the top to walk the talk; welcome and adopt ideas from people of diverse backgrounds to create a more engaged and inspired workforce. Also, dispel egos and prejudices, accept that no one knows it all but all individuals have something of value to offer. And when it comes to building teams, look for people who are willing to reflect and learn.