Maili Wong

Vice-president, portfolio manager and investment adviser, CIBC Wood Gundy Age: 33

Maili Wong was only 30 years old when she was named vice-president at HSBC Securities. She was one of the youngest investment advisers to be promoted to that position firm-wide.

But if it weren’t for her father, she would probably be a doctor right now.

Wong was on track to study science and pre-med at UBC when her dad, who is also an investment adviser, suggested she look into business courses.

“He thought it would fit my strengths and personality,” she said. “He’s probably the only Chinese man who told his daughter to forget medicine and go into business!”

Wong was one of only 16 students accepted to UBC’s portfolio-management foundation program, which allows students to manage a $3 million endowment.

“It was so fascinating to me, because I was able to research companies from all different industries and sectors but find common threads that made them successful,” she said.

In September of 2001, Wong moved to New York to work at Merrill Lynch’s headquarters, located right next door to the World Trade Center. Just one week after she started work, two planes struck the twin towers.

The chaos that followed for days after the terrorist attack shook the 22-year-old Vancouverite “to my core.” Against the urgings of her family, she decided to stay in New York.

“I had worked so hard to get that opportunity,” she said.

Wong returned to Vancouver in 2006 and joined her father’s team at the Wong Group. In 2011, the group was recruited to CIBC Wood Gundy. They are now one of the top-ranked investment teams in B.C.

Now the mother of two children under three, Wong knows first-hand the challenges women face in finding work-life balance. She mentors other young women in business, and also created CIBC’s Leading Women in Wealth investment education series. •