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Finding ways to connect has always been meaningful to Catherine Cheung. As a younger person, she related to others through artistic pursuits, such as making ceramics. Although she now has less available time for those interests between children, family, and work, Catherine still uses it as a way to relate to others. "When I talk to other people who might be interested in art, I've found it to be a powerful connector," she says.
One connection she made with a manager in the early days of her financial career made a huge difference in her life. "She was like an older sister to me," Catherine recalls. "She was quite active in looking out for me in terms of giving me guidance, broadening my horizons, and giving me exposure to senior management. She tried to teach me everything she knew and took a genuine interest in my development both personally and professionally."
Now a product director in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) regional Product Management team for T. Rowe Price, Catherine has not forgotten about the importance of mentorship. "I try my best to look after my staff the same way–having open communication, sharing my experiences, and giving suggestions–really trying to make sure that they have the chance to develop in their roles," she explains. “I want to make sure that I also pass on my knowledge and expertise."
With that in mind, we sat down to speak with her about her personal experience working at the firm.
You came to T. Rowe Price on the recommendation of a former manager. What did she share with you about working at the firm?
She'd had an excellent experience with T. Rowe Price. We had both worked at a bank-affiliated asset manager before, and she told me that T. Rowe Price has a unique culture. For example, with some other competitors, there tends to be pressure to deliver over a shorter time frame, but T. Rowe Price is a long-term oriented investment firm.
At the time, the APAC team was still relatively small. There was an ambition to diversify the business further internationally, so it needed people with local expertise and experience to help drive that growth. While T. Rowe Price is a very established firm in the U.S., it was still in an early stage of building out the Global Distribution setup here in Asia, which was quite attractive to me. I wanted to use the experience I had accumulated to build something and hopefully make an impact.
Tell me about your job.
I'm responsible for the product strategy for Asia ex-Japan, which means I develop new strategies that cater to the needs of this region and position, maintain, and sometimes enhance existing product suites to ensure they continue to be relevant for clients. Pricing is another part. We work closely with the local Distribution team and also our U.S. counterparts to make sure we are aligned with the global pricing policy while at the same time being competitive from a local standpoint and addressing specific client circumstances. The end goal is to help drive growth and diversification of the business in Asia ex-Japan.
What's your impression of the work culture at T. Rowe Price?
The culture here is very collaborative. It's different from the firms that I've worked at before. There's also very thoughtful and thorough consideration for every new product launch or every new initiative that we take on. That long-term thinking and level of diligence is really exceptional. The standards here are much higher. The product proposals that go to the committees are much more detailed and thorough than anywhere else. Everyone takes it really seriously. The level of integrity is truly differentiating—it stems from the spirit of putting clients first. It's ingrained in the culture and day-to-day discussions.
What recruiting advice would you give to women considering a job in your field?
It's still a male-dominated industry, but it's definitely changing and improving. So don't be shy. Try to interact and connect with colleagues from different functions and locations. Do not be intimidated if you're the only female in the room. It does take time to accumulate that experience and be confident, but you'll be fine as long as you do your homework and do your job well. Also, know that you can bring diversity and something different to the table. That's the value-add that you can have—different viewpoints.