Alumna Mio Chi Mei (Class of 1992, BBA in Accounting and Finance)
Co-Head of Asia Pacific Equities Team, China Chief Investment Officer and Fund Manager, Robeco Asset Management
Having been working in finance sector for more than 20 years, Alumna Mio Chi Mei had gone through the financial turmoil in 1997 and the dot-com bubble in 2000. For more than a decade, she witnessed the ups and downs after the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007. Starting her career with investment banking, she shifted to hedge fund and then moved higher up the ladder from analyst to investment officer. Without a secret formula to financial or career success, she was able to root up in the turbulent investment industry with her judgment, forward-thinking, keen market insight, and state of perseverance for lifelong learning.
“Soft Skills” Matters in This Era
Facing the rapidly changing business world, it is difficult to stand out in the workplace merely with specialist knowledge. “Soft skills” like communication, problem solving, having an all-rounded-vision, as well as leadership and teamwork spirit are just as important. Being a recognized opinion leader on China’s stock market, Alumna Mio is a spokesperson for Robeco in the Asia-Pacific region and frequently presents the company’s equity research reports. In addition, she has participated as invited guest speaker for different investment conferences and has been interviewed by major world media. Alumna Mio said that she was able to develop her soft skills by participating in university associations during college. “Apart from acquiring the practical skills and professional knowledge, I also joined a debate team – that was the most memorable experience I had at the University. It reminded me of the time when we created a record of winning continuously in five consecutive games, which still makes me so proud of myself today. These experiences enhanced my communication skills and trained me on independent thinking. It taught me to be more objective and to view from a broader perspective. These are all that a professional investor needs. In addition to participating in the debate team, I also set up the ‘Accounting and Finance Society’ and from here I found my career direction. Through organizing visits to different companies and enterprises for my club members, I got the opportunities to meet with management and get a better picture of the working environment and job requirements. I decided to go into finance after we went to visit the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.”
Adventure into the World’s Leading Financial Hub – the Wall Street
After graduating from UM, alumna Mio got her first job as a credit analyst at the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU). Having outstanding academic records, she was recommended by the Dean of Faculty of Business Administration, Prof. Nelson Antonio to go for a job interview at BNU. She got the job and entered the industry even when she was still waiting for graduation. However, she felt that she was too narrow sighted after working for a few years and decided to leave Macau and went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in pursuit of a master’s degree in 1996. Later, she started a new career path on Wall Street. She joined JP Morgan Chase as an analyst and then settled down in the Robeco Investment Management Group. In 2013, she was promoted as the investment officer. She could still recall the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007. . “In 2007, I started as a fund manager at Robeco, specializing in China’s equity funds. The Chinese stock market was so good and recorded the increase of 64% per annum. The funds I managed also performed very well and outperformed the market by 9%. However, the global stock market plummeted in the financial crisis in the United States in 2008. Luckily, the funds that I managed fell but was smaller than the market. Thanks to the economic stimulus plan and loose monetary policy launched by G20 countries to deal with the recession in 2009, the global stock market skyrocketed and the funds I managed continued to outperform the market by 9.8%. I am not saying that I am very successful. But I was more aware of what was going on in the US as the subprime mortgage crisis took place in the place where I have worked for a while and with better knowledge of the global economy, I was more perspective than some investors.” Alumna Mio said that she was just lucky. Nevertheless, with the working experience in different cities and vision accumulated in major investment banks and fund companies, she was able to move through all of these adversities with outstanding performance.
Lifelong Learning is often a Key to Success
From her working life starting in Macau to the United States and back to China, and her working environment ranging from investment banks to hedge fund companies, alumna Mio holds a job role that keeps changing. She has experienced both the prosperity of the market and the low point after the bubble burst. Facing the ups and downs of the market, Alumna Mio was trained with flexibility which enables her to adapt quickly to different markets, positions and cultures. Her golden rule is lifelong learning; which is the only way to keep achieving her different missions at different stages effectively. “I just finished learning Fintech and am planning to learn to write programs in Python. The financial industry is a knowledge-based industry and analysts need to accumulate knowledge widely, even in the technology field. The most popular position in the industry is Data Scientist. To understand how to communicate with them, you must learn their language tools. We are walking at the cutting edge of the trend, so we must continue to learn and make ourselves competitive.” Besides managing the stock market, alumna Mio also needs to manage her team. With years of working experience and knowledge, she has her own leadership style: coaching, supporting and delegating. She emphasized, “Managing a team requires leadership and a clear direction to get the right things done effectively. Mutual respect and listening to other’s opinions come next. “
Although alumna Mio is working outside Macao, she still cares and shows concern to Macao and the alma mater. She always comes back to the alma mater to give talks and join alumni activities as a mentor of the “Alumni Mentorship Scheme” to encourage young people to choose their own direction in life. She hopes for students to go abroad to explore, enhance their global vision and build a worldwide network. These help to train up young people as talents who can lead Macao to be internationalized and diversified. In order to maintain strong roots in Macao and gear towards China and beyond, she also encourages students to be more modest and positive. For the alumni who are preparing to enter the industry, she said that the current financial market is very different from the past. “The workforce model in the current industry has been changed by big data, artificial intelligence and digitalization. The new demand for talents also changes. Multi-specialists with technical and finance skills are becoming more important. Therefore, students and alumni who are interested in pursuing a career in the financial sector must get themselves well-equipped.”