Susanna Chiu 趙麗娟

Executive Director and CFO
Bonjour Holdings Ltd.
(EMBA Class of 1997)

During my university years, I developed an interest in information technology due to its gender-neutral nature — everything in the computer world boils down to binary code. Following this, I transitioned to Caltex, where I assumed responsibility for infrastructure development in the Greater China region. Under the guidance of my female supervisor, empowerment was prioritised, with the aim of equipping me to eventually assume her position as she advanced. This mindset shaped my leadership style, emphasising teamwork over authoritarianism. I hope that all my colleagues would be intelligent and capable, demonstrating autonomy and the ability to complete tasks independently.

In the workplace, I have encountered challenges due to my gender. Women have to often cross the hurdle by first proving their abilities before being recognised, which is harder work. I have experienced instances where the clients would often first shake hands with my male subordinate instead of me, thinking he is superior, despite I am holding the managerial position. Women may face additional hurdles professionally compared to men, but I am determined to let my abilities speak for themselves, rather than allowing prejudice to limit me.

Women inherently possess adeptness in financial management – take a look at every household and you will see that mothers are the ones who are always taking care of finances and dedicated to improving the quality of life of the family. Similarly, in business settings, CFOs are dedicated to advancing corporate values. Female CFOs commonly emphasise areas such as ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), branding, and investor relations. I think that a CFO’s efficacy in their role is predominantly shaped by character traits rather than gender.

Susanna (second from the right) expresses gratitude for the School’s EMBA programme for its alumni network.

During my tenure in the EMBA programme at CUHK, upon my return to Hong Kong from the United Kingdom, I found the programme to be instrumental in fostering connections with peers, seniors, and juniors who shared similar backgrounds. These connections quickly evolved into meaningful friendships. Additionally, professors stressed the importance of professional visibility. While competencies among individuals may be comparable, nurturing a robust social network serves as an invaluable asset, amplifying one’s visibility and reputation.

For female alumni aspiring to progress in their careers, I encourage them to maintain a positive mindset and confidence, steering clear of feelings of invisibility or self-doubt. In today’s digital age, gender is no longer a barrier. By boldly challenging the status quo – like myself becoming the first female president of The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants – one not only demonstrates their capabilities but also breaking the glass ceiling, and forges new paths for other women entering the field.

First published on CUHK Business School’s website on 7 March 2024, this article was republished with permission from the School’s Alumni Affairs and Development Office.