With a natural inclination for numbers, Paula Stibbe, Managing Director, Head of Global Liquidity Sales, Asia Pacific at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, specialised in short-term fixed income markets early on – but her experience boasts skills from a much broader spectrum. In this article, Paula shares what she has learnt during an impressive career, as well as the best advice she has been given along the way.
Managing Director, Head of Global Liquidity Sales, Asia Pacific
Paula Stibbe, Managing Director, is Head of Global Liquidity Sales, Asia Pacific at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. With over 20 years’ of experience in global liquidity, Paula joined J.P. Morgan in 2011 and is a member of J.P. Morgan’s Global Liquidity Operating Committee, Global Liquidity Liability Subcommittee, Investment Management Asia Operating Committee and Investment Management Asia Risk & Control Committee. The Global Liquidity business in Asia is responsible for product development, sales and service of institutional short-term fixed income investment solutions across the region, with offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore.
Prior to her current role, Paula was a senior client portfolio manager specializing in short-duration taxable and tax-aware strategies for institutional clients across western United States. Before joining J.P. Morgan, Paula was Managing Director, Head of Product Management at Bank of America’s Global Capital Management. She and her team led the strategic and tactical management of all product-related activities, including product development, request for proposals and the contracts office. In addition, Paula spent five years as a senior client portfolio manager at Columbia Management; a former Bank of America affiliate.
Paula obtained a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds FINRA Series 7, 24 and 63 licenses, as well as SFC Type 1, 4 and 9 licenses.
How has your career path led you to a role in finance?
After finishing university, finance wasn’t an immediate thought for me and – like many others at that time in life – I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. But I’ve always had a knack for numbers and loved solving problems (my dad is an engineer; maybe it’s in my DNA!), so it wasn’t surprising that I ended up pursuing a career in banking.
Not far from where I studied, I started off at a local bank in Wisconsin as a personal banker before moving over to a trust department at a larger regional bank. Since then, the rest of my career has been on the investment side of the business, as I ended up loving it. It plays well with my skillset and I enjoy solving clients’ problems. Every day brings a different challenge.
Do you feel that women respond to the needs of treasury/finance in the same way that men do – or do they bring something different?
Whilst I definitely think women bring something different to the workplace, having a balance of gender perspectives produces better decision making which in turn leads to better results. For me personally, I think women are more collaborative and better at asking questions, whilst also evaluating the short and longer-term options.
In addition, if you look at many companies – including J.P. Morgan – their customer base is of a diverse nature, so why wouldn’t there be an aspiration for teams to be representative of the marketplace?
In terms of balancing professional and family life, is the business world progressing in the right direction?
When you look at where we are today versus where we were ten or more years ago, the programmes that organisations have put (and are putting) in place demonstrate that the business world is progressing in the right direction. For example: flexible work arrangements, job sharing and improved maternity, paternity and adoption leave. Also, firms that have flexible working arrangements (along with the tendency to promote them) generally do a better job of retaining and attracting talent.
What can women do to get their voices heard more within an organisation?
Women aren’t always prone to voice their ideas; it’s something that has personally taken me a while to get comfortable with throughout my career. That’s why it’s really important for senior women – in order to encourage others to start speaking up earlier on – to set an example and inspire younger generations. It is also why I enjoy supporting up-and-coming talent and being a mentor to both women and men. For men, it means they become increasingly used to seeing women in leadership positions and it will become more of a norm for female voices to be heard.
“It’s really important for senior women – in order to encourage others to start speaking up earlier on – to set an example and inspire younger generations.”
A global and diverse experience
Making the move to Hong Kong two years ago, Paula is a long way from where she started her career in Wisconsin. Having taken deliberate steps throughout her career, Paula has spent time across a number of different roles before moving to Asia. Early on in her career, after finding her passion in the investment side of business, she initially specialised in short-term fixed income markets where she was responsible for relationships that produced over USD 1.2million in new revenue.
Displaying a diverse skillset, Paula has also spent time in various sales and client servicing roles in the U.S., as well as running a product team and working with portfolio management. She gained experience at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Harris Investment Management and Bank of America Global Capital Management before joining J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Paula has certainly kept to her guiding principle – to take charge of your own career.
So why the change of continent? Paula’s move to Asia was partly encouraged by a mentor’s advice to gain global experience. “My experience had largely been across different cities within the U.S. and his recommendation was to expand my horizons. It’s been invaluable. It gives you an opportunity to experience another area of the world, what their culture is, how they make decisions, and to be able to bring those best practices back to your home country.”
Moreover, by entering a different region, Paula has been able to provide both clients and co-workers in Asia with her alternative perspective. In fact, it is something she wished she had done sooner.
The importance of mentoring
Paula believes finding a mentor to help navigate a new company is key – especially in larger corporations where culture is likely to be multifaceted. “It is advice I would give to everybody, to find one or two people in an organisation that you have some commonality with. I would also highly recommend mentors of both genders as we frequently have different views.”
Paula continues to be inspired by senior colleagues. Hearing Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management, talk about achieving a work/life balance and seeing the results she has driven, was one of the reasons Paula originally wanted to join the company nearly four years ago. “Strong female leadership of a company can help financial performance,” says Paula.
Indeed, many studies have shown that companies with more senior women on their boards and leadership teams generally have strong financial performance. “When you look at the results, they speak for themselves. Boosting diversity not only across genders but also cultures, makes for more rounded decisions which, in the end, result in better performance for a business.” In short, encouraging a diverse perspective within an organisation, could bolster growth potential, which would be a huge win for clients and the industry as a whole.