Carnegie Mellon University

Cynthia Wang

Cynthia Wang

Board Director - Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute


Cynthia Wang is currently a Board Director at the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, a think-tank focused on large-scale climate solutions with 200 government and corporate members around the world. Appointed 1 February 2019, Ms Cynthia Wang is a seasoned financial executive and a pioneer in environmentally conscious finance. She’s held various leadership positions at investment banks and financial institutions in the US and Asia. Most recently she was Head of China at Bridgewater Associates, a global-macro investment manager. She’s also the founder of the Sustainability Innovation Fund at Carnegie Mellon University. After 25 years of leading world-class organizations across investment banking and asset management, she's focusing her finance acumen and industry insight on climate-aligned finance. This includes a range of connected efforts such as contributing to thought leadership in best practices in sustainability, directing investments to accelerate technology innovations, advising growth stage companies with their strategy and fund-raising activities, and community building for like-minded professionals around the world. Cynthia also serves on the Business Board of Advisors at the Tepper Business School at Carnegie Mellon University.
What positive changes have you seen throughout your career in support of women’s equality?

I see two aspects of improvement: quality and quantity.  

1: Quality: Gender equality is more front of mind.  It's especially important that people have better appreciation of the contribution women bring to the business, so it's not just "equality for equality's sake".  That means women don't have to act like men to be successful.  There's more recognition of the need to address the things that could potentially hold women back professionally.  So, I'm seeing more benefits/well-being programs that enable women to continue their career better than in the old days.

2: Quantity: There are a lot more strong female role models in the industry, which was almost absent when I first started 20 years ago.  The pipeline of female recruits has been very strong too.  The trajectory is very encouraging.

What unique challenges do women encounter in their finance careers and how can they overcome them?

There are challenges associated from common biases/stereotypes and there are also challenges that are just facts relating to the gender differences.

1: Common biases: the myth that “women are not good with numbers”; “women wouldn't be interested in finance”; “it's hard for women to build the necessary senior relationships (old boys club) to bring real business”…My personal experience was I just had to prove them wrong by exceeding people's expectations. Over time, I hope there are more trailblazers, so it'll be easier for future generations.

2: Factual gender differences: In general, women are more affected by family responsibilities, especially if you have children.  I get asked "how to you achieve work life balance" much more than my male peers.  At some point we all have to make some trade-offs.  It's very important to have a clear goal and set your priorities.  Then build a support infrastructure around yourself, both at home and at work.   

Which career achievements are you are most proud of?

I hope my biggest achievements have yet to come -- I'm that optimistic. Looking back, I think the most impactful achievement is getting appointed to the board of Global CCSI, the climate change think tank.  I hope the financial community can work closely with industries to tackle this mission-critical challenge to leave a better world for future generations.

What advantages/benefits do companies achieve when employing women quants?

I'm not exactly in a quant role, so let me speak to the advantages of women bankers/marketers/client coverage persons.  At the risk of over-generalizing, I think women are good listeners, with strong instincts for problem-solving.  It will afford companies broader perspective and better bottom-line when we empower (not just employ) women.  

What is your advice to other women considering a career in quant finance?

This is again, not limited to quant, or even finance.  I believe women can bring a lot of value to the table.  We all have strength and weaknesses.  Just find the support infrastructure to let your strength shine and improve on your weaknesses.  I'm happy to be part of that support system, just like others have been for me.