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“When I first started out in the banking industry, I understood that I needed to absorb and learn as much as I could,” recalls Pamela Hsu Phua. “After all, nothing is entitled nor a given in life.”
This sense of pragmatism and true grit has served Phua well over the years, including propelling her to her very own high-flying path within the banking industry. Earlier this year, the female banker took the helm as the newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) Asia of VP Bank where she’s responsible for the Liechtenstein-headquartered bank’s operations in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Phua’s ascension is inspiring on many fronts. The banking industry is notorious for having relatively few female leaders—on average, women account for only 10 percent of positions in the C-suite. Female bankers like Phua had to learn how to hold their own under difficult circumstances.
Her secret? Finding comfort in the discomfort. “I decided early on in my career to move away from my family and support system to work in Zurich and subsequently, in Hong Kong,” she reveals. “Stretching outside of my comfort zone was not easy but invaluable.”
This independence proved to be a great training ground for the determined banker. “I remember when I first came to Hong Kong working for a bank that did not have a strong presence in Asia at the time,” Phua recalls. “I went literally door-to-door to introduce and promote the bank. You can imagine the level of rejections that I initially received. However, in the end, I managed to grow that intermediary business into one of the largest in Asia.”
To thrive in the male-dominated industry, Phua recommends one to embrace the obstacles wholeheartedly.“Like many others, I have encountered challenges and disappointments, but these experiences only enabled me to become stronger and more resilient,” she says with palpable pride. In her own words below, Phua shares more on her journey and lessons learned.
Stretching outside of my comfort zone was not easy but invaluable.— Pamela Hsu Phua, CEO Asia of VP Bank
On the moment that my appointment as CEO Asia of VP Bank was finalised
When my appointment as CEO Asia was finalised and announced, I felt invigorated to embark on a new adventure and was ready to build. I remain confident to contribute towards our forward-looking ambitions.