Career Advice Working Women

Liberating family ties

Despite a hectic work schedule and often having to make late-night conference calls, Christina Gaw manages to address all the demands of her professional and personal lives by planning ahead.

The managing principal and head of capital markets at Gaw Capital Partners makes a firm point of always spending her non-work hours with her family. Resourceful in finding motivation in all things, Gaw says that her greatest source of inspiration, encouragement and support comes from her husband and four children - two boys and two girls aged between five and 11.

"Being a working mother has never been an obstacle to my forming a deep and loving relationship with my children, but good planning [has been necessary] to carve out quality time with each of them," she explains.

Gaw's career trajectory accelerated into high gear upon her graduation from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor of science in business administration. Entering the demanding and highly challenging world of investment banking, she rose steadily through the ranks, first at Goldman Sachs and later with UBS, where she was a managing director, heading up the Asia Pacific Capital Introduction effort for alternative products.

All along, Gaw says, her guiding principles have been to be optimistic, communicative, and have high ethical standards. She also believes in planning ahead. In a world where we all have to multitask, she knows from plenty of experience that planning, especially for working mothers who have to juggle work and home commitments, is essential.

In terms of maintaining a work-life balance, she considers herself well-balanced, thanks to the support of her spouse and children. Work also plays an extremely important role in her daily life by allowing her to stay intellectually connected with the world.

Today, her professional focus is on fund-raising and product development after she joined Gaw Capital Partners as partner three and a half years ago.

The firm, founded by her two elder brothers in 2005, is a uniquely positioned private equity real estate fund management company, with a primary focus on Greater China. It currently manages three funds, which have a total equity of over US$1.5 billion (about HK$11.7 billion).

All told, she's spent more than 15 years working in investment banking and investment managing in the Asia-Pacific region. Whether at work or at home, Gaw says the key to success is good communication.

Whether it be between parents and children, husbands and wives, or among colleagues, Gaw feels that talking is key. "Being able to share information and feelings should be encouraged among the younger generation," she says.

Gaw also strongly believes in instilling self-confidence in children. "It is important to believe in oneself. I always like to share this phrase with my children: 'If there is a will, there is a way', and I truly believe that with discipline, perseverance, confidence and focus, they can always achieve their goals."

So, what would she do if her kids asked her to be a stay-at-home mother? Would she be able to leave the world of work behind her or not?

She says this question only arose when her elder children were toddlers. "After I explained to them my joy at staying connected to the world of work, they were fine. And now that they are older, they are proud to have a working mother who still manages to spend quality time with them."

The younger of her children, she adds, are never bored since they always have their elder siblings to play with.

Gaw counts herself lucky because she has not needed to make many sacrifices in life, and has been able to balance both her professional and personal lives thanks to the continued support of her family circle.