Lynn Lau, Singapore
Singaporean Lynn Lau is Head of Standard Life’s Asia Pacific Development Team, and manages the Edinburgh-based company’s expansion into new markets, specifically in India and China where it has already built up a significant presence.
TalentScotland talks to Lynn about her experience and work at one of the UK’s largest financial services companies.
What does your role involve?
I manage a team of nine (six based in Edinburgh, three in Beijing), developing Standard Life’s business in the Asia Pacific area.
Our presence is already quite large as we are one of the top five insurance companies in India, with some 200,000 sales people working out of 200 branches throughout the country.
We are also in the top five in China, following a joint venture with the local government organisation TEDA Investment Holding Company, but we are always looking to increase our Asian footprint further, particularly with Standard Life’s other strengths in pensions, asset management and healthcare insurance.
We have our own people on the ground, but we also keep in touch with Scottish Development International who are helpful in telling us about potential business leads and general market intelligence in the area.
How did you come to develop strengths in market development?
I studied accountancy at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University in 1995 and later trained with international accountants KPMG in the city. After a few years I was transferred to London to work in the company’s Corporate Finance department and later returned to build up its Corporate Finance capacity in Singapore.
I was very attracted to the experience and personal development opportunities offered by working abroad, so my husband Lennard and I took a leap of faith and applied for jobs in London.
I worked for a time with McArthurGlen to create its European Retail Property Fund, but Lennard, who is a plastic surgeon, was keen to eventually move to Scotland and work with Dr David Soutar, one of the world’s leading practitioners, at the Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit in Glasgow.
What were your impressions of Scotland?
I was hesitant initially to move from London, as my only experience of Glasgow was driving through it on a dark wet evening some years before on a holiday!
However, I was pleasantly surprised when we moved there: the people are very friendly, there are nice neighbourhoods, lovely parks and the architecture of the city is wonderful.
We’ve since moved to Edinburgh and love it. There is always something going on, from theatre to festivals. It has everything that London has, but without the downsides. Everything is much more accessible and we can escape to the countryside in no time – we love walking on the nearby hills and the views of the sea are spectacular. And I can even walk to work!