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Software Engineer, Prime Brokerage
Florence Tsang will tell you that she loves technology and logical thinking. But she also loves stargazing and astronomy, and remembers spending her childhood summers hiking in Seattle and looking to the sky.
That love of the stars and the mysteries they held led Tsang to study math and science, and she ultimately graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in computer science. But her plans to follow a career in tech took a turn when she attended a J.P. Morgan recruitment event and learned about the company's deep investment in technology. Today, she builds technology tools for financial trading—a job that fulfills both her love of science and her need to build the tools of the future.
What does success mean to you?
Success means being able to bring our best self to work. Everyone is unique and there is no one single definition of the word. I think "success" means to utilize our unique potential. And it's not just the destination, it's the process, who we are, our values. We bring these into the way we do things, and finally, into results.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents have been the biggest influence in my life. I am very lucky that they love me and have given me a good education and a healthy upbringing. My mom always tells me to treat everyone with love and respect. It reminds me to respect everyone, our neighbors, people we work with, janitors, and people who are different from us.
My dad always reminded me to be humble when being successful. I usually received top academic results when I was in school. I was nominated to compete in the junior science Olympiad, and was chosen from hundreds to be one of the six to travel to Iran and compete when I was 15. But with every honor, my dad would remind me that success is only for a short moment, and it will soon be history, and people shouldn't live in the past. He teaches me that life is a long journey full of successes, challenges and defeats. We should not be overly contented with a small achievement.
So today when I achieve something, in life or at work, be it an award or an honor, I keep myself humble. Because our values and actions define us rather than our titles and honors. I have my parents to thank for that wisdom.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
The biggest lesson I have learned in life was from a mistake I made in high school. At that time, like most students in Hong Kong, I thought the public exams were more important than anything else. I gave up several extracurricular activities that I enjoyed, such as the Physics Olympiad training. This was a training course for top high school physics students every weekend at a university, and it was the method by which students were selected to represent Hong Kong in the Physics Olympiad. I regretted that because I enjoyed the training and I missed seeing my friends. More importantly, I believe I missed a precious learning opportunity.
Since then, I realized that just because something is very important does not mean that I have to drop everything else for it. As long as there is the opportunity to grow, go for it, and the rest will follow.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received, and where did it come from?
When I was a child, my parents told me to ask what I can do for other people before I ever ask what others can do for me. This reminds me to think about the contributions I can make—to people, to the company and to society—before thinking about the benefits I might get. This piece of advice lives with me daily.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
Hong Kong is slowly opening, but I am still working remotely. The biggest challenge for me, I've been startled to find, is strangely low-tech. Normally, in the office, the team will discuss technical problems. If they become too complex, we get together and work them out on the whiteboard. We can't really do this remotely, and I absolutely miss that connection with my colleagues.