In 1987, the United States Congress passed a proclamation declaring the month of March to be Women’s History Month. To celebrate, the staff at Committee of 100 sat down virtually with a few of our amazing female C100 Members for a new blog series called Chinese American Women Shaping the World: A Special Q&A Series. In these interviews, Committee of 100 members will talk about their career paths, the challenges – and opportunities – in being a successful Chinese American woman in today’s society, as well as their hopes for the next generation of Chinese American women.
Committee of 100 sat down recently with Ms. Ida Liu. Ida is the Head of Citi Private Bank, North America and a member of the Citi Private Bank Global Leadership team. Ida has been a Member of Committee of 100 since 2020.
Committee of 100: What is one of your many achievements that you are most proud of, which helped dictate the course of your career?
Ida: One element of my career I am proud of is my ability to spot unique market opportunities, launch businesses and take calculated risks. For me, that meant leaving the financial industry early in my career to pursue a role in fashion, and ultimately returning to finance to merge these two worlds in an innovative and creative way. I combined the best of both finance and fashion to create a new career path for myself. In doing so, I launched two new businesses for Citi Private Bank, which differentiated our offering in the market. I continually challenge myself to have “outside the box” thinking and viewpoints. What could make this opportunity better? What is the next disruptor? And how do we get ahead of that? Or better yet, how do we develop it ourselves!
Committee of 100: What is a major lesson you learned from a failure or setback in your career, which also helped dictate the course of your career?
Ida: One of the most important lessons I have learned is not to rely solely on performance. While performance is a major attribute of success — teamwork, partnership and having a high degree of EQ are critical to advancement. In the last year, COVID has presented unprecedented challenges for us, and being able to adapt, reflect on mistakes and quickly course correct has been invaluable in navigating a difficult time and supporting my team. We focused on our team’s health and wellness as our top priority. Our people are our most valuable asset, and having a team culture of appreciation and collaboration is key to success! Also, not getting a big job or promotion you had hoped for allows you time to adapt and reflect on your future path. It’s never a straight ascension, there are bumps along the way, and it is important to face the bumps with humility and perspective — to come out stronger. Taking feedback well and constructively is critical to ongoing career success. Finally, and most importantly, having an open and positive mindset will enable you to flourish. Let’s all strive to see the glass as half full!
Committee of 100: What topic or topics do you feel are not being talked about enough when it comes to the advancement of women as leaders?
Ida: I believe what gets measured gets done – transparency and open dialogue are important for advancing women and diversity in the workplace. At Citi, this meant being the first global financial institution to release gender pay gap data. All of our leaders are measured by their progress on diversity/inclusion metrics in order to keep moving the needle. Jane Fraser has shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the first female CEO of a global financial institution. We also have a board that is 50 percent women. It’s critical to lead by example, and having such strong female representation in senior leadership roles speaks volumes about our commitment towards gender equity.
Committee of 100: What qualities do you see in the next generation of Chinese American women that brings you hope and joy for the future?
Ida: The next generation of Chinese American women will be trailblazers of our future. Next Gen Chinese American women exude grit, resiliency, determination, ambition, creativity, optimism (the list goes on…!). We’re doing a tremendous job recruiting this next generation of diverse talent. I’m extremely proud of the gains we’ve made in 2020 in not only hiring more Asian and women colleagues across the firm, but promoting them as well to leadership positions.
Committee of 100: If you could go back in time and give advice to your 20-year-old self, what would you say to the younger version of you?
Ida: Think big! I would advise my younger self to stop waiting for the “right” moment and dive in. Taking risks has paid off for me in my career, and I would encourage my 20 year-old self to steer away from perfectionism! Finally, perspective is everything. See the glass as half-full instead of half-empty and you will be amazed at how quickly challenges become opportunities.
Committee of 100: Who is your inspiration and why?
Ida: My parents are a huge inspiration for me. Their dedication and commitment to hard work instilled a strong work ethic in me and enabled me to develop a never-give-up attitude from a very young age. My brother and I are lucky to have two exceptional role models who demonstrated strong values, character and taught us that, often, the best measure of success is the way in which you treat others with respect and kindness.