Overcoming obstacles and learning how to dream: in the first of four profiles of Wilmington leaders, we meet Quin Thong, Managing Director of Wilmington Asia, and learn about her story so far...
“I often say that I am a doer, learning how to dream. Challenges give rise to opportunities to think differently and to provide insightful solutions.”
Growing up in Malaysia, Quin quickly learned that girls are not expected to have careers; but rather than discouraging her, this realisation spurred her to believe ever more strongly in her potential.
In the early 1990s, backing herself to succeed in a heavily male-dominated profession, Quin applied for a junior role in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ audit and business-advisory division. Selected from hundreds of candidates for one of only twenty positions, Quin seized her moment in the sun. “I carried as many hard-folder files as my male colleagues, worked at least as diligently and even won a gold medal in the national CPA exams”, she recalls.
Quin’s can-do attitude launched a successful accountancy career that saw her working in the world’s leading financial centres, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, London and Melbourne. She gravitated into senior strategic roles that went beyond a typical CFO’s remit, making her the ideal candidate when, in 2016, Wilmington sought a business leader to deliver the company’s Asia strategy. Where others see challenges, Quin sees opportunities: “I often say that I am a doer, learning how to dream. Challenges give rise to opportunities to think differently and provide insightful solutions, sparking the doer in me into action.
“The most exciting challenge we face is expanding Wilmington in Asia, against the swelling tide of small players with varying qualities of services, with some resorting to price-war tactics. The key to winning is to provide unique, high-quality services, setting a consistently professional tone; this is Wilmington’s hallmark, differentiating us from other players. We succeed by being innovative with our marketing programmes, by engaging actively with our clients and by being close to the heartbeat of the industry.”
Ten years ago, Quin set herself a simple, but powerful aspiration – to create opportunities for people to develop their potential: “At that time, I did not have a clear plan how to go about doing that. However, what I did know was that I would need to be creative and innovative, and I must collaborate with others. Ten years on, I walked into Wilmington headquarters in London, and the words ‘Collaborate, Innovate, Enhance and Enable’ welcomed me. If felt like coming home.” Since then, her greatest discovery is that all of us can do something to help, even something small, and that lives can be transformed as a result. “We all have the power to make that one phone call that costs us nothing, to lend a helping hand, or say a kind word of encouragement. It may go a long, long way for that person”, she reminds colleagues frequently.