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Women in law leading the way - Kate Fewings

Lauren Pang interviews Kate Fewings, Managing Director and Regional General Counsel Citi Asia Pacific.

Kate joined Citi in 2004 in Hong Kong covering the Institutional Clients Group. In 2014, she was appointed General Counsel for Australia and New Zealand, relocating to Australia, and in 2017, she was appointed as the Regional General Counsel for the Asia Pacific region, returning to Hong Kong. Prior to joining Citi, Kate worked for a major English global law firm based in London and throughout Asia. Kate is a director of Beyond the Orphanage, a not-for-profit organization focused on rehabilitating and reintegrating vulnerable orphaned children in their communities in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nepal. Kate has participated in several mentor programs and has served on a number of Citi local and global Diversity and Pro Bono committees driving heightened engagement and participation.

What are the major obstacles that you have had to overcome to get to where are you today?

I’ve thought hard about this question and whilst of course we all have challenges and setbacks, I try to see obstacles as growth opportunities - and it would be wrong of me not to mention that Citi has been incredibly supportive of my career journey, so I’ve been fortunate to have had great support along the way. If I had to identify a challenge, and I think it is a constant work in progress, it is effective time management. As I rise up the career ladder, the demands on my time increase correspondingly, meaning that it is literally impossible for me to address everything that comes across my desk or to give my attention to everything I would like to – especially when it is equally as important that you reserve some of yourself and your time for your personal life as well. It has definitely been a growth opportunity for me to learn the proper art of delegation and the ability to say “no” (or at least define what I am realistically able and not able to do). I’m not at all sure I’ve mastered the art of perfect time management but, I think, it’s important we all focus on this aspect of personal development as our roles become increasingly demanding, we need to be able to apply a filter and also set parameters.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

I have a confession in that I was not terribly good at taking advice as a younger person (is it not ironic that the older I get, the more open to advice I am!) I have always listened to what people say but I liked to try things out for myself and test my view of the world or test whether how I thought things should be done was actually a right fit. Of course, that meant a few mammoth learning opportunities, but I am still a firm believer that you learn more from falling and getting up again than not falling at all. Saying that, one piece of advice I think everyone should listen to – and chose whether they want to take it or not – is to be your own advocate. It is innate for some people, for the majority it is not. And it is, for most of us, uncomfortable to sing our own praises. But it is critical. Great work is not always seen (and/or rewarded) – you have to be your own advocate and present your best self. Being self-deprecating is easy but being your own best advocate is better.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

The calibre of the next generation of women I see coming through are incredibly impressive young women, so I think they will tackle any challenges or setbacks with a level of maturity and innate wisdom beyond their years. It goes without saying that women need more prominence in the corporate world – not just in the finance industry. And I think women of my generation have made enormous strides in that regard. I see the challenges of women in the generation behind mine being finding their place in that world. If we look at where we are now, women have made significant and material contributions and changes to the corporate world but there is still a way to go – the next generation are going to carry the mantle for continuing that pace and ensuring that we retain our unique strengths as women while forging ahead to keep up with an ever (and rapidly) changing corporate environment. And I have no doubt at all that the next generation will do so, with much
success.