8 March 2024

International Women’s Day: Q&A with Anindita Das, Yuiko Kawabata and Huong Trinh

At BDA Partners, we’re proud to honour the remarkable achievements and contributions of women around the globe. This International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on #InspireInclusion, a theme that resonates deeply with our values.

Euan Rellie, Managing Partner, Co-Founder and Head of Consumer & Retail said, “BDA seeks to draw from the widest possible pool of employment candidates, to attract non-traditional candidates into investment banking which still, too often, resembles a boys’ club. We strive to foster an environment which empowers women to be successful, including of course as BDA senior management. We have a long way to go. We celebrate each other, and all our female colleagues, every day. We’re proud to advocate in favour of International Women’s Day. “

To celebrate, we’re excited to share inspiring stories from three of our exceptional female employees. We hear from Huong Trinh, Partner and Head of BDA’s Ho Chi Minh City office, Anindita Das, Managing Director in BDA’s Singapore office and Yuiko Kawabata, Operations & HR Manager based in Tokyo, and about their incredible journeys, how they navigate the balance between work and personal life, and the challenges they’ve overcome along the way.

How do you balance your professional and personal life, and what strategies have helped you succeed in your career?

Huong: Balancing my professional and personal life is crucial for my overall well-being and career progression. I maintain a high level of focus at work by strategically prioritising tasks and setting clear objectives. Separating my personal and professional life allows me to dedicate quality time with my family without work-related distractions, which I find essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Moreover, I actively seek the involvement of my family in my career journey, ensuring they feel connected to each milestone I achieve. My husband and my supportive family play integral roles in this, and I make a conscious effort to engage my daughter in discussions about my workplace and colleagues. She can actually remember names of most of my BDA colleagues and says she would want to work for BDA when she grows up.

Two key strategies that have been instrumental in my career advancement are that I always strive to position myself as a trusted advisor to clients by empathising with their perspectives and proposing solutions that align with their best interests. And I prioritise on building a strong team that provides exceptional support when needed.

Anindita: Self-care and well-being are very important to me, particularly with the demands of both work and family life. I make it a point not to compromise on exercise. I commit to morning runs at least thrice a week, which not only helps me recharge physically but also allows me to re-think, gain a fresh perspective, and most importantly, provides me with valuable ‘me-time’ for self-introspection and personal growth. I’ve learned the importance of saying ‘No’ more often to new projects, especially when I’m already juggling several existing assignments. This helps me maintain a healthy balance between my professional commitments and personal well-being.

Yuiko: Though balancing personal and professional life is very important I have mentioned a few times to my colleagues that it has not been easy. I took my laptop/iPad to the delivery room when giving birth to both my boys. However, with the support from multiple team members, I was able to continue until today. Advanced IT technology has helped automate many of the manual processes. It enabled us to save time and spend it to be with children (in other words to tackle mom duties). Still, there are instances where it all gets mixed up and I end up joining a meeting from my bike with my son at my back or opening my laptop on a microwave counter. 

Can you share a memorable experience or achievement from your career that has had a significant impact on you?

Anindita: One of the most memorable experiences in my career was the day we signed the first tech transaction in Southeast Asia at BDA, which I had the privilege of leading. It was an extraordinary and surreal moment, especially considering the numerous challenges we faced along the way. For me, this particular transaction stands out as one of the most defining moments of my career. It marked a significant milestone in my transition to becoming a tech banker, and most importantly, it highlighted the importance of being resilient and building trust with both the client and the buyer, which ultimately led to successfully closing the deal.

Yuiko: COVID was a challenge for me as our working style changed a lot. That was when I got pregnant with my second child. Immediately before any other firms in Japan shifted to remote work, BDA instantly decided to ensure employee safety and we were asked to work from home. I remember we even had a remote team meet on a call too to just catch up on how everyone was doing. It would have been a difficult process for me to protect myself during my pregnancy, take care of my elder son and then go to work every day during that period, when everyone was unsure of the new virus. I never felt like I was judged that I would have limitations as a working mother. BDA would constantly bring new challenges to keep me motivated.

What advice would you give to your younger self or to young women starting their careers today?

Huong: My advice would be to prioritise building your experience and establishing a track record during the early stages of your career. The learning curve is steep during this phase, and investing in your growth lays a strong foundation for the future, particularly as you balance family responsibilities. Secondly, maintain focus in your work and strive to operate efficiently. Working smart ensures productivity and enables you to achieve your professional goals effectively

Anindita: My advice to my younger self or to young women embarking on their careers today, would be to not take things too personally and to recognise when to ask for help. Looking back, I realize that I often placed undue pressure on myself, driven by the need to prove my worth in a male-dominated environment. Learning to manage stress and seek support when needed would have made my journey smoother.

Also, would strongly encourage seeking out a mentor or guide with relevant experience. Having a mentor can provide invaluable insights and guidance, making it easier to navigate challenges and accelerate personal and professional growth. Their wisdom and support can significantly ease the journey as you progress in your career.

Yuiko: I would schedule time to focus on imagining myself in detail as much as possible, what I would be like in the next three/six months, a year or even five years later. With that image in mind, regardless of how small or large the work task is, be mindful of why I am doing this, and decide whether I am making the right choices to become who I want to be. If I feel stuck or have any doubts, I will seek advice from colleagues, mentors, and friends, and then own the decision myself to hold accountability. If I put the in text it sounds so serious, well, simply, would be good to know one’s missions and values to enjoy life.

Have you felt noticed and recognised at BDA?

Anindita: I’ve been incredibly fortunate during my time at BDA. It could be “serendipity” or something else, but I have grown tremendously as a banker and as a person since I joined BDA and due credit goes to BDA for recognising my capabilities even before I did and pushing me to be where I am today.

Yuiko: Yes, not just in the same office, whenever anyone visited the Tokyo office, they would come to us with a warm greeting. I was amazed at how most people are outgoing and that we have so many fans of the Japanese culture. When management visited, they would find some time not just with the bankers but with us back-office too with questions including, how can we improve our culture/practice, what is your ambition? Are you enjoying working at BDA? Are you facing any issues? etc.

How do you contribute to the empowerment of women in your community or industry?

Huong: I actively participate in workshops and forums, where I share my experiences and knowledge with aspiring female entrepreneurs striving to establish their own businesses. Additionally, I advocate for self-care among my female colleagues, encouraging them to prioritise personal time outside of work to make friends and take care of their mental and physical well-being. I am also a mentor to some of my colleagues at work and try my best to share my experiences to empower them through these sessions.

Yuiko: I try to connect with external businesswomen and entrepreneurs to download best practices and business mindsets. Holistic health and meditations have been a good practice for me, to deliver work daily basis, in a creative and ambient manner. As a CSR action, I participate in a few home visits as a nursing doula to support mothers and donate to children abroad through Plan International.

How can companies be more inclusive and support working mothers?

Huong: It’s crucial to build a culture where there is genuine trust in the abilities of working mothers and recognising that they can deliver results comparable to single women or men. Secondly, companies can adopt supportive policies such as implementing flexible working schemes for mothers, including options to work remotely. These measures enable working mothers to effectively balance their professional responsibilities along with their family commitments.

Yuiko: BDA has given me the flexibility to welcome part-time staff when I was on maternity leave. They have been inclusive when it comes to additional ideas on how to make work more effective and efficient. When becoming a new mother, there’s a slight anxiety at the same time, where one could feel isolated from everything, sometimes by having to face a newborn for the first time. I luckily didn’t have to feel that way, as BDA had a welcome-back culture at any time, I was also surrounded by people who eventually became new parents. There has been multiple occasions to exchange children’s pictures and enjoy how fast they all grow up.

About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services, Sustainability and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

US securities transactions are performed by BDA Partners’ affiliate, BDA Advisors Inc, a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). BDA Advisors Inc is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and SIPC. In the UK, BDA Partners is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In Hong Kong, BDA Partners (HK) Ltd is licensed and regulated by the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) to conduct Type 1 and Type 4 regulated activities to professional investors.

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