With over 20 years of investment management experience, Leslie Yap knows his stuff. Joining Nomura Asset Management Malaysia in 2008, he has worked closely with the firm’s global teams, and has been a core member of investment committees that deliberate and decide on investment frameworks and allocations.
Now as its Managing Director, Leslie’s role sees him work to integrate sustainable and responsible investing with the firm’s strength in active portfolio management.
The business leader came into the game when the industry was still in its infancy. Despite knowing little about it, he soon found himself intrigued by the prospects of investment and, in a brief time, decided that this was the right path for him.
He soon found himself accepting an opportunity in China, where he spent the next 6 years working in the Chinese and Hong Kong market. Leslie recalls the early days of his career as a time of excitement for the industry, full of ups and downs that served as the perfect learning experience.
Soon a chance of a lifetime came a-knocking, when Nomura Asset Management launched a home based in Malaysia, and as they were looking for someone with the talent to develop global markets, Leslie fitted the bill perfectly. And the rest is history.
Having spent a considerable time overseas, much of Leslie’s approach in how he builds confidence amongst the company’s employees came from seeing how international teams work together, thereby shaping his ideas on the kind of leader he could be.
Leslie remains grateful for the chances he was given to build his foundations in booming economies such as China’s, stating that, when developing the business and looking at investing globally, it would have taken him longer to adapt if he started his career and stayed in Malaysia.
Speaking on the kind of leadership approach he has adopted in leading Nomura Asset Management Malaysia, he leans more towards one that is more team-based, befitting of the work ethic and culture of the Japanese-originated company.
“It’s about working together as a team, where there is no one so-called ‘superstar’ member. Everyone brings in something different to their role that plays into the bigger picture of the success of Nomura.”
He goes on to explain that when it comes to fostering a productive corporate culture, it’s imperative to create a conducive environment where ideas can flow between everyone in the team. “That itself builds a kind of belonging that allows teams to develop a more independent sense of thinking rather than just executing a task purely because ordered to.”
And as the industry continues to transform at a rapid pace, whether it’s from technology or the development of business management, companies need to be adaptable and open to facing new challenges.
To the daring who find an intriguing career in the investment industry, Leslie advises to go into it with a sense of dedication and passion. “If you have those two, you’re already halfway there.”
“It always seems a lot more glamorous from the outside when you tell someone you’re working in the industry but that involves a lot of hard work and the ability to handle the pressures that come with the job,” adds Leslie.
Having worked his way up in the company, starting out as a portfolio manager to becoming the Head of Investment to finding his place as Managing Director, Leslie has faced his fair share of challenges to get to where he is today. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think it’s what drove me on.”
“I did what I liked and had the opportunity to cover various markets. Even with the mistakes I've made, I soon came to realize that if I had not gone through those trials, I wouldn’t be who or what I am today.”
Penny For Your Thoughts
How would you define a “good life” and/versus a “successful life”?
I believe that when you have a good life, you tend to have a successful life. When you have a successful life, it often means that you're happy with your achievements, professional and personal.
If you enjoy what you're doing and are able to build good relationships, isn't that a good life?
Advice you would give your younger self.
"Experience more" - and I don't just mean in work but in every aspect of life. Try new things, and explore what the world has in store. In the end, life is all about experience.