Treasury Today Asia Woman of the Year Winner: Catherine Yu

Published: Feb 2019


Photo of Catherine Yu, Herbalife Nutrition and Sophie Jackson.


Catherine Yu has a strong track record of delivering strategic and significant commercial results. Her experience and expertise in finance, tax, treasury and business transformation makes her a natural contender for an award but it is her sheer leadership talent and unswerving professionalism that edges her beyond the competition. A deserved winner for 2018!

Catherine Yu

Regional Controller APAC, Herbalife Nutrition

Hong Kong

Catherine Yu is a fine example of a senior finance professional, with experience in Asia Pacific and China, and a strong track record of delivering strategic and significant commercial results.

She has more than 25 years’ China and APAC experience in direct investments, and the pharmaceutical and supplements sectors within both Hong Kong and US listed companies. Catherine is an expert in finance, tax, treasury and business transformation. She is a natural leader of large finance organisations and a strong business partner for internal and external stakeholders.

Catherine’s phenomenal career trajectory has led to her current role as Regional Controller APAC for Herbalife Nutrition. Here, she manages the professional controllership team in APAC, providing the services of accounting operations, cash management and treasury, taxation, internal controls and processes, statutory company reporting and business project management.

Early effort

In the early years of her career, Catherine trained at PwC as an auditor. She progressed through various finance leadership roles in major multinational corporations. These roles include: Asia Pacific Regional Controller and Head of Treasury APAC for BT Group’s British Telecom Global Services; and Associate Director, Compliance and Process Improvement, Asia Pacific, for Merck & Co.

Throughout, Catherine has maintained academic study and is today a Chartered Accountant, holding FCCA and HKICPA qualifications. She obtained her MBA from Manchester Business School at the UK’s University of Manchester. She also holds qualifications from the HKCPA Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a BA (Hons) in Accountancy from City University of Hong Kong.

In addition to the more traditional qualifications expected of such a seasoned financial professional, Catherine also possesses certification for Balanced Scorecard Trainer, Six-Sigma Green Belt Training, and Stewardship Trainer (gained at Merck). She also has IFRS Certification, Certificate of Completion of National Studies Course for Professionals from the Chinese Academy of Governance, and an Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford.

On her professional pathway, Catherine has taken up membership of the CFO Forum of Global Accounting Association ACCA. She has also been Honorary Treasurer and Vice Chairlady of Manchester Business School Alumni Association, and within her community in Hong Kong, she is a member of the think tank of the DaShun Foundation. She is also a dedicated community volunteer worker.

Wider goals

In a demonstration of Catherine’s commitment to being part of the wider corporate finance community, and sharing her voice and expertise within that universe, Catherine has regularly spoken at key industry events, including being a panellist at the Finance Transformation and CFO Summit in 2015, the ACCA CFO Summit Hong Kong in 2014, the second Anti-Corruption Compliance Asia Pacific Summit 2014 in Hong Kong, the FP&A Innovation Summit in 2012, and the SSON Week Asia 2012 in Singapore. Giving back to her alma mater, Catherine also acted as MC for the Manchester Business School MBA Graduation Dinner in 2011 and in 2015.

Catherine’s exceptional professional prowess has seen her interviewed and featured in ‘Women in leadership positions’ for AB Magazine, in ‘CFO Innovation’, in HSBC’s Guide to Cash, Supply Chain and Treasury 2011, and in a CFO Interview for The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Catherine’s commitment to giving back has also included taking part in the mentorship programme of ACCA. This programme invites selected members to nurture a targeted ACCA student who is in the process of taking their ACCA examinations. From 2014 to 2017, Catherine directly mentored four students who have now all gone on to progress well in their professional fields.

Photo of Catherine YuThe award is a recognition of my business achievement and my contribution to society to groom future successful women. It also has a special meaning for business women like me. It means that, nowadays, the business world appreciates women’s contributions. I’m very glad to see more positive development of gender equality. More opportunities are offered to women. Women can surely hold up half of the sky and contribute to industry and society. Lastly, I’m rewarded by the satisfaction of work achievements, the enjoyment of interacting with smart and high potential young ladies through mentorship and coaching during my volunteer work. As a mother of two daughters, this is a good example for them to be positive and have good values.

– Catherine Yu, Regional Controller APAC

Additionally, Catherine was involved in the job shadowing programme for Future Leaders Aspiration Programme (FLAP) candidates of ACCA between 2015 and 2016. This programme provides exceptional long-term experience and benefits for the participating student delegates. ACCA FLAP is for selected mainland Chinese students who are either the top performers shortlisted from ACCA-bound undergraduate programmes, or ACCA Job Hunting Competition (JHC) regional and national champions. The purpose of the programme is to nurture and equip these talented young professionals with an international perspective and all-round strategic vision.

Another talent-nurturing highlight from Catherine’s career is the ACCA Hong Kong Business Competition. This is a dedicated initiative that aims to equip accounting and business students with a blend of both professional skills and essential qualities required in a changing business world. Each year there is a chosen theme associated with helping social enterprises or NGOs to develop a visionary proposal with workable solutions to optimise their businesses and operations.


During 2016 and 2017 Catherine coached two outstanding teams of university students who had been successfully entered for two competitions having progressed into the semi-finals from a pool of 700 teams.

The 2016 team prepared a five-year business plan for a social enterprise, New Horizon Life Planning. Under Catherine’s guidance, they took the second runner-up spot in the competition.

In 2017, the team coached by Catherine prepared a business plan for humanitarian education programmes for Hong Kong Red Cross’s WARZONE 90. Unlike the 2016 team, the group was composed entirely of students from mainland China pursuing their university educations in Hong Kong. Catherine says of her coaching that it is not only helping the students to write up their business plans and helping them enhance their presentation skills, but she is also taking the opportunity to share with them the characteristics of Social Enterprises/NGOs in Hong Kong.

Women in treasury

At a broad level, Catherine seeks to be an inspiration to young women, believing that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’. As a working mother with two daughters, Catherine has always sought opportunities to nurture young female professionals. Asia Pacific has historically been perceived as a relatively conservative and male-dominated working environment. But with recent cultural changes, women are beginning to have more opportunities, both in their educational and their professional lives.

With gender equality more on the agenda for companies and for society in general, Catherine feels the region is tapping more sources of talent from both genders, helping to build a stronger business environment and a better world. She also believes in sharing what she has learnt in both her professional and personal lives with young women as a way to contribute to society and be a good role model to her two daughters.

As a testament of Catherine’s strengths, Germon Knoop, CFO of BetVictor, who was Catherine’s manager at BT, says: “Catherine contributed greatly to the success of the company in the APAC region by combining her professional engagement with a high drive and motivation. One of the areas where her added-value was truly remarkable was in balancing the requirements of a European multinational with an understanding of the local business cultures in the companies we operated in. I have learnt a great deal from her”. Catherine Yu is a worthy winner of this year’s Woman of the Year award.

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