Khongorzul Tudev, in Short: Zula, is Fixed Income Portfolio Manager with UBS Asset Management in Zurich. Fondsfrau Anke Dembowski Talks with Her About Her Interesting International Career to Find out What We Can Learn from Asian Women.
Zula, could you tell us a bit about your professional background? What did you study, and where? When did you start working in the fund industry?
I did my bachelors in International Economics at Kyoto University and masters in Banking and Finance at the University of Zurich. After completing my studies, I joined UBS as an analyst and within a year moved internally to my current role as a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager managing a variety of indexed portfolios since 2015.
You are from Mongolia. Can you tell us a bit how the status of women is in Mongolia?
Mongolia ranks high in the Gender equality index, alongside the Scandinavian countries. From my experience of growing up there, I can confirm this is true. Women are thriving in many fields such as education, and medicine. Still we do not see enough women in leading positions in business and politics, a common picture we see around the world. We do have a 20 % quota in the parliament though.
What was the trigger for you to leave Mongolia, and go to Japan to study, and then to Zürich, to do your master’s degree in Banking and Finance?
As do many high school students, I wanted to get into one of the best Universities and gain international experience. With a Japanese government scholarship I did my Bachelors at Kyoto University, one of the best and highly selective Universities in Asia. During my studies, I decided to specialize in Finance in the West. Studying at the University of Zurich offered several attractive qualities, in addition to residing in one of the global financial hubs.
You started as an analyst in 2014. Is that the normal way to becoming a portfolio manager?
For new graduates I would recommend starting a career with a graduate trainee program. It provides young professionals an opportunity to experience different functions of the bank on rotation before settling into a position. When I graduated with all relevant finance credits and a thesis building portfolios with relative strength and factor investment strategy, the opportunities were rare. I decided to start my career as soon as possible with an analyst position at UBS, and within a year I managed to move to my current role at UBS Asset Management.
What did you want to become as a school girl? And what was the trigger that got you interested in the financial industry?
Growing up in Mongolia, a country with rich natural resources, I wondered how I could make my contribution in the wealth distribution. I had read Norway’s story and how it’s sovereign wealth fund plays a big role in people’s lives. That’s when I decided to go into this field. With my education and experience so far, I believe I am in a better position to build up the necessary knowledge, experience and confidence to reach this goal.
You are now working at UBS in Charlotte Bänninger’s team. What was the reason to apply for a job there?
Given my ambition to learn how to manage assets in the financial industry and desire to work in an international and highly demanding environment, the opening in Charlotte’s team was most attractive to me. The Fixed Income team in Zurich was international and had a very good gender balance – the team had over 10 nationalities and 12 out of 28 Fixed Income professionals were women! I am glad to have joined the team and recommend others to look out for open positions within our organization. UBS as a large international organization offers many interesting roles.
Are there special diversity programs at UBS that help women to get into leading positions or that help to retain female employees after a family break?
UBS ranks globally among the top 10 employers in the Finance industry. There are indeed number of programs designed to attract, retain, and develop female talents. One of them is a career come back program, offered in Switzerland, UK, US and India to help professionals who had a career break to make a successful transition back to the corporate field. UBS also offers flexible working arrangement for parents.
Do you have a role model in your business life?
I am fortunate to work in a fast paced challenging environment filled with highly competitive professionals and a proximity to leaders like Charlotte. I learn from my colleagues and the management every day. UBS has a mentoring program matching young associates to senior successful leaders in the bank. I met a great mentor through this channel who helps me direct my career in the right path.
Is there something professional women in Europe can learn from Asian women?
Given we work and live today in a constantly changing environment with blends of different cultures, being flexible and being quick to adapt helps our careers. Having different culture and population structures, the countries in Asia and Europe put emphasis on different areas of education in general terms, and that naturally creates professionals with different strengths. Combining these diverse skill sets makes organizations more powerful and dynamic.
Do you personally have a hint for our (female) readers, how they can succeed in business life?
My professional life is probably too short to provide a valuable input on this. I do believe that hard work is the foundation of success. Personally, being proactive and approaching any work with a sense of ownership helps me do my job well.
Thank you very much, Zula, for this interesting interview!