Her story of persisting through negativity
Ying Du, Head of China at Mackenzie Investments, has heard No, you can’t a lot in her life. But she decided early on not to let negativity stop her from pursuing her dreams. Here’s her story.
Draw strength from your family and culture
My grandmother instilled that never-give-up attitude in me. A single mom who never had the opportunity to learn to read or write, she was determined to send her daughters to school so they could succeed. She is a big part of the reason I never take no for an answer. Also, even though I’ve spent most of my professional life outside of mainland China, Chinese culture is embedded in me. I love that the Chinese word for crisis is two characters: danger and opportunity. I believe that in every difficult situation there’s an opportunity to turn things around.
Find excitement in change, even when it feels scary
I chose to study at a renowned diplomatic school in Beijing that people said would be too hard to get into for a small-town girl like me — but I graduated with a major in French studies. I then moved to Paris to study business and people said only native French speakers could get a job in asset management in France — but I found work as an internal auditor and was the first Asian person hired by my previous firm back in 1998. I became interested in portfolio management and people said it was too difficult as there were very few opportunities — so I transferred to Singapore where my Asian background is highly valued and worked hard to become a fixed-income portfolio manager. Then I had a chance to move to Hong Kong to lead the firm’s Asian client service team and people said I couldn’t transition from looking at Bloomberg every day to interacting with people — but I rediscovered that I enjoy being a people person and interacting with clients of diverse backgrounds. After spending 19 years with my previous firm and successfully setting up its China office, I surprised everyone and left my comfort zone again to join Mackenzie. I’ve been able to ignore the no’s and wholeheartedly embrace change over 23 years of my career. I love the entrepreneurship and intellectual challenges associated with change and experienced tremendous growth going through each and every one of my career transitions.
We have more commonality than differences
I’ve been a foreigner for so much of my career, but I’ve never felt like an outsider in any part of the world as I always find so much similarity in different cultures. However, it’s true that whenever you change roles and countries, you have to start from zero and reinvent yourself. Even moving back to Beijing nine years ago, I was considered a foreigner because I had been away for so long — but I made it my home again. Now, as Head of China at Mackenzie, I provide on-theground insights into the country’s amazing economic and capital market transformation. It’s not an easy task in the current geopolitical environment. However, all the challenges make my work so much more interesting and fulfilling.
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