Women in law leading the way – Wanda Tung

Author Samantha Fong
March 13, 2018

Taylor Root is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2018. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women’s Day 2018 #pressforprogress campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, how they are pressing forward for women’s gender parity.

Lauren Pang interviews Wanda Tung, Managing Director and General Counsel for Asia ex-Japan of Nomura.

Wanda manages a team of lawyers and legal professionals supporting the full spectrum of Nomura’s businesses across AEJ. She also serves as the Executive Sponsor for AEJ’s Women in Nomura (WIN) Network.

International Women’s Day celebrates the scientific, political, economic and social achievements of women. In your experience as a successful woman, what is its significance?
It’s a day for honouring the important women in our lives and recognizing that women hold up half the sky. Not only should we celebrate the progress made by so many outstanding female leaders in the different industry sectors, we should also celebrate the quiet female supporters that exist in all our lives. I’m certain that every successful person will have at least one woman in his or her life that has made a difference – whether it’s a mother, wife, sister, colleague or friend. It’s also an important reminder that there is still much progress to be made towards gender equality and women’s rights around the world. It’s heart breaking that despite all the progress to date, there are still countries in today’s world where girls are not afforded education because of their gender.

What are your main achievements as the General Counsel of Nomura?
I’m very proud of the strong reputation that the Nomura Legal Department has built over the last eight years since I joined as General Counsel. This is an achievement attained together with my team, which comprises of a group of excellent, committed legal professionals. Nomura front office, senior management and other corporate divisions respect the Legal Department as effective, quality legal advisors, partners and risk managers. Our team has been stable and loyal (with super low attrition over the years) and our team members are also true culture carriers for the Nomura community. For example, members of our Legal team are employee network leaders for Women In Nomura (WIN), LGBT, Life & Families. I am also the proud executive sponsor for both WIN and LGBT.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

When I look back on my career path, the “barriers” that I faced were largely those of my own perception. To be honest, fear of failure and lack of self-confidence sometimes emerged as internal voices that held me back from taking risks and seeking new opportunities. It was easy to come up with the long lists of excuses as to why one shouldn’t try for the bigger role and take on certain challenges. At some point, I realized that the only way to move up and forward was to move out of my comfort zone and that I was the only one who could force myself to do so. Once I experienced that sense of achievement from overcoming my fears, it became easier and easier to push myself outside my comfort zone. I continue to practice this today as a self-discipline which is important for my continued professional growth.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career as an in-house counsel?
I highly recommend a career as in-house counsel, especially for those lawyers who enjoy working with diverse people and working as part of a team. In-house lawyers have the opportunity to provide legal and strategic advice to business and management, and often see how their advice impacts the organization over time. For those women who may want a more manageable work schedule, sometimes the in-house environment can be more flexible than that of the traditional law firm. However, I would advise lawyers not to move in-house too early. It’s important to ensure that one has built up enough experience and knowledge base before moving in-house. Sometimes when junior lawyers move in-house too early, their coverage could be limited by their level of experience. This may mean they end up with a narrow specialty much too early in their career path which could later hamper career growth. Or, given the advisory nature of many in-house roles, it may take much longer to move up the career ladder as one will ultimately need to build up the necessary experience and expertise to perform that advisory role.

What is your biggest driver and motivation to get to where you are today?
I feel extremely fortunate to be in a position where I still love my job after 26 years in the industry. I appreciate the amazing platform I have at work where I can contribute and make a positive impact to the organization. What drives me is the satisfaction I derive from being able to make a difference and helping people – in this case, for my firm, my internal clients and my team. I’m also motivated by the opportunities to continue learning and developing myself. The legal and regulatory landscape is always changing and growing ever more complex, which means there are constantly new issues to be dealt with, new challenges to face, and new things to learn. That keeps me excited and motivated.