Interview: Beth Wright – a lawyer doing good in the local community

Many hedge fund managers and other senior financial industry professionals not only work long hours in order to deliver results for their clients. They also spend a lot of time, money and other resources on helping those who are less fortunate. HFC’s Stefan Nilsson caught up with Beth Wright in Hong Kong to discuss the charitable work this accomplished senior legal counsel does in her local community and her passion for fitness and lifelong learning.

Women in Finance – you spent eight years as Co-Chair in Asia and you’re currently a board adviser. How did you get involved there and what does the organisation do in Asia?

When I first moved to Hong Kong, I joined the JP Morgan Women’s Network. I remember one of the chairs resigning during one of our weekly calls and being asked if I would be willing to step in. I didn’t think, I just said yes! Shortly after, I joined and subsequently went on to co-chair Women in Finance Asia (affectionately known as WiFA) for 8 years. WiFA is a not-for-profit organisation that is committed to empowering and supporting women to reach their full professional potential by inspiring both men and women to become advocates, change-makers and leaders in our community. Each month we host events and bring people together to network, educate, upskill and develop professionally and even to fundraise. I am truly proud of what the organisation has achieved and even more proud of what it has become under each and every new leadership – no more so than during Covid when all events have had to move online. I learned and still continue to learn a huge amount from being a part of and previously running the organisation.

What can you tell us about what Pathfinders Hong Kong is and your involvement there?

Pathfinders is an NGO whose mission statement is to ensure that the most vulnerable and unsupported children in Hong Kong are protected and respected and that their migrant mothers, predominantly current or former foreign domestic workers, are empowered to find a path to a bright future. I joined the board of Pathfinders in 2018 having first been introduced to them when I moved to Hong Kong in 2007. Honestly speaking, coming from the UK where the concept of foreign domestic workers does not exist, I was truly shocked by how they, as a community and a truly valuable workforce, are treated in Hong Kong. We, both men and women, are able to live really privileged lives and are able to both work and have a family thanks to the incredible support of the foreign domestic workers who leave their families and country to come work in Hong Kong. I really wanted to recognise that and contribute back in whatever capacity I could. Pathfinders does truly incredible work to ensure that all children receive a fair start in life.

Then there is the charity Suits for Success of which you are a Founding Member. I believe this is a charity assisting less well-off candidates with donated suits for job interviews, correct?

That’s right. We held the first Suits for Success clothing drive under the philanthropic arm of Women in Finance and quickly realised that the demand for good quality working wear and the excess of clothing in Hong Kong meant we needed an organisation that could meet the demands of both! We set up S4S as a charity with the aim to hold annual clothing drives to donate to those in need within our community. This year we are going to have to be a bit more creative due to Covid restrictions but have some great ideas that we are working on.

You are a busy legal counsel with a career that has included legal roles at major financial institutions in London and Hong Kong. What is it that makes you spend much of the rest of your time on charitable work?

Giving is like a muscle – the more you use it – the better you feel and the more you want to do it! I fell into charitable work almost by accident but with each project or NGO that I work with, I learn so much more about the people around me and the country I live in. Not to mention the fact that I have also met some incredible people through the process.

You are also running something called B-Fit The Wright Way. Tell us about it!

B-Fit The Wright Way is my passion project. I have always taught fitness in some capacity (since university days – long ago!) and now in my spare time, I am focused on coaching people to live healthier and happier lives by providing hands-on education around fitness, nutrition, health and wellness.

Some years ago, you and I met in a Hong Kong classroom when you studied on the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program where I was one of the lecturers. Like me, you are a Leicester University graduate and you have also studied at the University of Hong Kong and at the College of Law, Guildford. What is it that drives you to be a lifelong learner?

It is partly because I genuinely love to learn, and partly because I believe the only way to get ahead is to stay ahead! Whether learning for my day job to be a better lawyer, or attending courses to be a better fitness coach – I feel the journey just becomes more fun the more you invest into it.