Qiuting Pan has serendipity to thank for the course of her career path: She was working as an investment analyst at a private equity real estate firm in Singapore when it was acquired by BlackRock in 2013. While she hadn’t been looking for a different role at the time, a position as a senior analyst and portfolio manager at her new employer presented itself.
“Joining BlackRock’s relatively new listed real estate securities team at that time via an internal transfer was an opportunity too good to miss” says Pan, who is still happy in her job more than nine years later.
Here, Pan talks about how BlackRock supports its employees, the company culture at the Singapore office, and the skills that have led to her success.
To learn more about what it’s like to work at BlackRock’s Singapore office, stay tuned for an article featuring a vice president responsible for sustainable investing in the Asia Pacific region.
Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to working as an analyst in real estate securities.
My career journey has pretty much revolved around real estate, which is the one asset class I have the most passion for. This was a big reason why I joined CapitaLand, a Singaporean-based real estate company, as a management trainee right after graduation from the National University of Singapore. In CapitaLand, the rotations and interactions with colleagues across different real estate-focused teams in Singapore, Malaysia, and China were hugely formative, and provided great foundational insights into the working of real estate investment, development, and management.
I graduated during the years following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and job opportunities within investment teams were limited. This led me to jump at the opportunity to join the private equity real estate firm MGPA as an investment analyst in Asia Pacific. MGPA was subsequently acquired by Blackrock in 2013 as part of the firm’s plan to grow its investment capabilities in the alternatives space.
In what ways have you felt supported as an employee at BlackRock?
BlackRock’s people, culture, and emphasis on career development have all been clear examples of the firm’s support for its employees. One thing that struck me was the level of effort to support employees’ well-being during the pandemic, including the flexibility to take time off as required, no-meeting / flex Fridays, and many benefits to support families and caregivers.
What are you responsible for in your role?
As a senior analyst and portfolio manager, I work closely with the co-global chief investment officers and my fellow colleagues within the Global Real Assets Securities team to generate performance in line with the investment objectives as agreed with our clients. This includes my primary coverage on listed real estate companies and REITs in the Asia Pacific region, such as Japan, Hong Kong, and China. Outside of generating investment ideas, providing support to achieve our team’s business development goals is also an important part of the job. This involves sharing our market outlooks, presenting performance drivers, and describing our investment process to existing and prospective clients.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your time at BlackRock and how did you overcome it?
Having to navigate regionally and across multiple time zones is not an easy feat! While BlackRock is a truly global firm that can offer diverse experiences, this also means having to adapt to other time zones and making the effort to understand investment ideas outside of one’s own comfort zones. Being passionate about my job helps me overcome what would otherwise be a much bigger challenge.
Describe BlackRock’s role within the alternative investment industry in Singapore. In what ways is it a market leader?
BlackRock’s stature and global standing as one of the preeminent asset management firms definitely helps to open doors. The firm is not only taken seriously as a thought leader within the alternative investment community, but also helps to drive initiatives such as ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and sustainability, thereby helping to bring these important issues to the fore.
What can a candidate for a position at BlackRock do to stand out?
Apart from professional qualifications, what often enables candidates to stand out are diverse experiences and interests that go beyond the traditional investing remit. These individuals tend to have well-rounded and balanced perspectives that help them think outside the box.
Within our real assets securities team as well as the wider firm, we value candidates who are team-oriented, open-minded, and who have the intellectual curiosity to pursue ideas that are outside of consensus (even if conventional wisdom dictates otherwise).
What do you like best about the Singapore office’s company culture?
Our Singapore office is extremely diverse and multinational. People come from many different cultures and we often interact cross divisionally as well. The Singapore office is a great example of the value and benefits of diversity and inclusion.
In addition, there are many initiatives that are designed locally to help guide junior colleagues as they develop their careers within the firm. Within the Singapore office, we have many networks that help to establish one’s presence within the BlackRock family and these have been invaluable in helping colleagues to work together in cross-divisional initiatives and form closer relationships.
What skills have helped lead to your success?
Staying humble and hungry have always been key beliefs that I’ve strived towards in my professional career. These have allowed me to always stay grounded and remember that I have a lot still yet to learn.
In addition, I have found it important to stay flexible by adapting quickly to situations as they arise. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of our professional journey. However, it is through learning from them that I have grown in my career.
It is truly the learning process and the positive attitude that we subsequently adopt that will bring you forward.