A Day in the Life of Roanna Kim
Global Investor presents “A day in the life”, where we spotlight inspirational women and trailblazers in the financial industry who break barriers and smash glass ceilings. For our latest feature we spoke to Roanna Kim, a Director in Equity Finance within the Central Funding Group at RBC Capital Markets and co-leads the DEI network group for the Women in Securities Finance Toronto Chapter.
This article is part of the 2023 Summer Magazine, which can be accessed here.
In your experience, what transformations have occurred in work dynamics, office environments, and client relationships within the industry?
One of the most well-known transformations that has happened in the workplace is the existence of up to five active generations who are currently working together. It’s become more imperative to work with empathy and acceptance as we attempt a better understanding of our different working styles, and how our colleagues and clients prefer to communicate - all without defaulting to labels or stereotypes.
With the rapid growth of technology and immediate accessibility to information in our industry, there is a heavier weight on managing virtual interactions with the possibility of never meeting a client or colleague in person.
One of the biggest changes I observed after re-joining a trading desk, was the number of virtual chat room conversations that had replaced telephone conversations with clients and counterparties. Post COVID, it’s become such an easy default to run virtual meetings in place of live meetings.
However, my observation of interactions and connections made at in-person industry or client events would prove that many of us still value live meetings. I think actively learning how your client prefers to process information and interact in our currently more complex environment is crucial while also considering, what might be, a generation-specific or personal preference.
Also, with the rapid growth of technology, clients are much more informed and involved in the business with access to readily available information and support from industry professionals. Securities Lending has grown into a sophisticated product that has become an integral tool in the value chain.
During difficult or stressful times, how do you maintain motivation and engagement in your work? Could you describe your strategies for achieving a healthy work-life balance and overall well-being?
Re-launching my career after a break from the industry was the most challenging and stressful trial I’ve had to date. There were many moments of feeling defeated and a persistent battle against Imposter Syndrome.
In such a rapidly changing industry with technological advancements and constant organisational changes, there is already a necessity to reinvent yourself multiple times throughout your working life. Leaving Capital Markets and deciding to come back was a lot more glaring when challenged with picking back up on an industry that moves by the minute, with or without you.
Coming back post the ‘Me Too’ movement and seeing the focus move from advancing gender equality to workplace diversity was uplifting, however, also challenging to navigate at the same time. I felt a heavy responsibility to represent as a female Asian Canadian and re-introduce myself to this industry sector as a credible contributor.
Wanting to re-launch my career in Capital Markets was motivated by my thirst to continue learning and my curiosity for the unknown. Deciding to take this leap via Securities Finance was motivated by my confidence in the network of incredible people who comprise the industry.
There are so many possible priorities in life that can pull you in different directions at any given time. Being as transparent as possible about my shifting priorities and having a strong support system is imperative for me to help with managing the moving targets.
Maintaining an informal personal advisory board to cover as many aspects as possible in my life is how I try to find solace in the day to day. I am my own worst critic and finding ways to be kinder to myself is an ongoing task toward mental healthiness and general well-being. Philanthropic work, learning new things, and lots of friends and family time all help me to re-gain perspectives, refresh, and reset.
What inspired you to become a Chapter Lead of Women in Securities Finance (WISF), and how has your involvement benefited both you personally and industry as a whole?
I had a very easy and organic conversation with Mary Jane Schuessler as we first contemplated the idea of co-leading the launch of a Women in Securities Finance Toronto Chapter. MJ and I both believe in supporting the expansion of Securities Finance across the entire Canadian landscape and beyond.
We have both grown our careers through this sector while learning from the best and worst in the industry, and eager to do what we can for its sustainability and continuous contribution to Capital Markets. The opportunity to lead such an exemplary group of professionals through representation and an enormous amount of thriving support has been a rewarding journey.
The last five years of Women in Securities Finance has been quite an uplifting journey with so many accomplishments we are proud of as a global leadership team. With our mission always clearly in focus, we feel the industry has benefited from many candid discussions and learning opportunities with incredible experts and impressive members of the industry.
The experience as a Chapter Lead has pushed me out of my comfort zone many times and challenged me as a diversity champion. Using the platform to grow beyond the business and gaining perspectives through community outreach events or learning about the importance of women’s health and how it could impact the workplace, are all additional benefits for our members.
What motivates me to commit myself to the group is my belief in nourishing diversity of thought and seeing the positive affects it has on the business. Having a voice and being heard goes beyond gender inequality issues. Leading with empathy, curiosity, and an open mind has shown me why we must look beyond just P&L.
Working with WISF’s global leadership team has been a career highlight for me as I continue to build a portfolio of memories, learning experiences, and collection of wisdom from this outstandingly impressive group of women. No amount of recognition would be enough to acknowledge what Arianne, Elaina, and Jill have built for our community of women and allies in our industry through their endless drive and vision for equity and inclusion.
If you had a message for newcomers from diverse backgrounds joining the industry, what would it be?
Look to learn as much about yourself as you will the industry. Identify your core values and your personal mission statement and ensure that it best aligns with what you are doing in your career and where (or with whom) you are working. Leverage your diverse background and use ways to bridge or find connections to the business, clients, or workplace.
I like to think about the possible impact I might have on newcomers or the next generation in the industry through sharing my experiences and diverse background through open and honest conversations.
My suggestion would be to stay curious and learn from people who are most unlike yourself. I believe the biggest impact any leader can leave behind is their legacy, reputation, and influence on the people and to the business.
Looking ahead, what goals or aspirations do you have for your career and professional development within the sector?
I’m excited to see how the sector will continue to innovate and evolve in the coming years. As Vice President of the Canadian Securities Lending Association (CASLA) board of directors, we are anticipating many impactful industry events like the move towards T+1 settlement, continued discussions on the impact of ESG investing, and ongoing cross collaboration with other industry associations for a more global understanding of our sector.
My professional focus will continue to work with CASLA to further Canada’s global presence in the industry. In addition, I plan to persevere as a leader with WISF to continue our mission and support and acknowledge our members for all that they do to contribute to the financial industry.
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