Chein La helps deliver on CIBC’s purpose making people’s ambition a reality by enabling solutions and strategies for retail client banking. Chein has more than 20 years of experience in systems development and transformation, strategy development, and large scale platform modernization.
Her career and life are powered by an insatiable curiosity and a passion for finding solutions that can make people’s lives better.
Who is your hero and why?
My older brother has always been my hero. When we were younger, he had always wanted a brother instead of a sister, so as a kid, I tried my best to keep up with him. He suggested that I go into technology and learn to code because it would be exciting and challenging. He was right and here I am.
What was your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
Growing up in an immigrant family, I was taught the value of hard work and stability. My parents had big aspirations for me to go far in my career. At the same time, I was told that, as an Asian woman, I needed to be quiet, polite and demure. It took a while for me to realize that I could speak up and be assertive. Now I work with other women to help them realize they are not “too much.”
How many choices do you feel were your own? What were they?
We always have choices. We just have to be ready to live with the consequences of our actions. The biggest risk I took was leaving a highly visible position where I was managing a large team, to take an undefined role as an individual contributor. Everyone was telling me not to do it - especially my parents who value stability. I took the role and it was one of the best decisions of my career. It opened the door to an executive opportunity. But I was also ready to start over again if it didn’t work.
Is perfection possible
Yes, depending on how you define perfection. If you look at perfection as the messiness of life, and our ability to embrace the journey, then it’s possible. We all have our own definition of perfection, and if you live to other people’s standards, you’ll never find it.
How do you take your whole self to work?
I am curious by nature. I am always looking for opportunities where I can learn. I bring all of that curiosity to work. Every day, we all have opportunities to make people’s lives better. Both in the technology I work on and in how I treat everyone around me. If I can keep that in mind every day, I am grateful and fully present.
What role has gender played in your career?
Many of us have likely heard statements like “she only got the job because she is a woman” or “it is because of diversity” I’ve been told that I am a “two-fer” because I am a woman and Asian. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter how the opportunity comes to me- it’s what I do with it. As a mentor once told me, if someone opens a door a crack to let you in, kick that door open and bring other women with you. I don’t think much about why I’m given an opportunity; I’m more focused on how to make it work.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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