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Andrea Muller, Executive Director for Principal Global Investors (PGI)
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[Interview] Andrea Muller, Executive Director for Principal Global Investors (PGI)

▲ Work and Family, achieving both objectives with the right balance – Andrea Muller, a senior executive officer for a large asset manager that manages KRW 750 trillion, explains about Principal’s open and collaborative workplace. ⓒ천지일보(뉴스천지)

Positive Energy of a Woman that moves a 750 Trillion Won Global Asset Management Firm

Work and Family, Achieving two objectives with the right balance
“Happy life thanks to dynamic work and diverse clients”
Korean clients picky but their needs are clear
Positive outlook on Korean economy “positive elements from both domestic and overseas environment”

[Cheonji-ilbo(H.E. Times)=Song, Tae-Bok] The more we spoke with Andrea Muller, the Executive Director at Principal Global Investors (PGI), the more we realized about her excellent leadership and her way of balancing life between work and family. Andrea Muller received juris doctorate from Georgetown Law Centerand worked as a lawyer and also at UBS Investment Bank and Fitch Ratings until 2010 when she joined a giant asset management firmthat manages KRW 750 trillionfor institutional and retail clients worldwide. She is frequently introduced by the press for well balancing her family and work, and certainly is a role model to working women. Andrea’s facial expressions actually sparkled and were very bright whenever she shared about her family and work. The children,both born in France during Andrea’s time as a lawyer, are both creative and globally aware thanks to their times spent in different parts of the world. Our newspaper met Andrea, who has visited Korea for client relationship purposes, to conduct an interview at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on September 7th.

- Please introduce about yourself.

I am an Executive Director at Principal Global Investors (PGI) and work as Global Head of Institutional Business, and also am one of the Operating Committee members at PGI. Prior to my current role, I was the Head of Asian operation in Singapore as CEO and have overseen business across Asia from Greater China to Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East at PGI. I’ve also initiated business with China (China Construction Bank–Principal) as well as with Malaysia (CIMB–Principal) successfully. Before joining Principal in 2010, I was a partner at Shearman&Sterling in Europe, and also worked as Managing Director at UBS Investment Bank both in France and in Singapore, and also worked at Fitch Ratings as Asia Pacific CEO.

▲ Andrea Muller, Executive Director for Principal Global Investors (PGI) ⓒ천지일보(뉴스천지)

- What would be the purpose of this trip to Seoul.

I’ve been visiting Korea on a regular basis since 2000 for the purpose of client relationship. I am visiting Australia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China on this 3-week trip. This extensive travel is only possible thanks to those people on the ground like Brian Shin who already has the Korean market all well covered as a good example. We are meeting Korean investors to listen what their concerns are, and what Principal could help provide solutions, meet their needs and ultimately solve their problems.

- How is the working environment at Principal.

Principal has a very unique culture. It is very open and collaborative, and this is the culture that I am truly proud of. It is also a very comfortable place for women to work, and Principal provides women with equal opportunity and reward, which I am impressed of. Women distinguish themselves here at Principal: for example Principal Financial Group (PFG) has 4 different divisions;the CEOs in those 2 divisions are women. Principal allows all employees to spend enough time with their families and loved ones, and to look after their well-beings. This is another part of Principal being successful in the industry. Principal actually won the best place to work in asset management in the past 4 years, which shows that it is indeed a great place to work for both men and women.

- What would be the positive points of women from your experience.

Having women participatein this society brings far more diverse ideas than those of men from my experience. Women certainly have a different approach to matters and thus have different perspectives and outlooks. These aspects definitely interact positively on the organization. After all, half of the world’s population is women and more than half of the consumers are women. Because many women manage household money, they also certainly have the required skillsets to manage assets well for clients in their professions.

- Is thereany asset management program for women.

PGI operates an annual program, "Women in Asset Management", and we recruit young women from universities in the United States for this 2 day program. This helps explain why women should consider financial services and asset management in specific, and why it’s a good career for women. I attended in this program and spoke of how women can be really good at Relationship Management and at Sales this program promotes open and frank discussions amongst women that helps young women to decide their career and future.

- Patriarch has always been a culture here in Korea, and has made working women difficult to be successful.

I’ve been very fortunate in that aspect. I have a very supportive husband and family, and great colleagues at a company where I can work with comfort and confidence as a woman, which made my career today. My husband comes from a large family. One of the 8 children, he has 4 older sisters, and his mother worked. So that is a large part of how he has always understood and supported my career. However I always try my best as well to recognize the ““balance”” between family and work. Despite the busy schedule, I also take care of my health in order to stick with my balance.

- Women in Korea are required to be superwomen today.

It used to be like that but Korea is also gradually changing. I’ve been in Asia for quite some time, and I do see positive developments for women across Asia.I’ve been coming to Korea since 2000, and made many Korean friends. The women I’ve met here in Korea are very talented, who are able to balance work and family well.

- What would be the main characteristic of clients in Korea. Aren’t they picky in some sense?

Every client has differences and similaritiesfrom one another in each of the countries. Meeting with a picky client is certainly not a problem; it actually is good because this helps us discern what they want from us.I closely listen to the concerns of the client, and provide diverse solutions appropriately, but I would not push to sell my ideas; instead I would be there to listen what the problem is.Principal’s philosophy is to form a close partnership with a long-term view. To establish so,Principal always approaches clients genuinely. Principal is very interested in the client’s changing needs, and ultimately to provide the best solutions.

- How do you expect global economy in the future.

We expect to see continuous slow growth with low interest rates globally. Global market is so inter-connected as you know. The developed nationsare relatively slower in terms of growth than the emerging market. We are still seeing recovery from global financial crisis– so seeing rates hike up to a level of 4 to 5% will be unlikely in the near future.So, in this slow growth, we are seeing investment demand shifting from domestic investments into overseas stocks, fixed income and real estate in countries like Korea.

- How do you expect Korean economy and financial market.

Korea is a very sophisticated market, and certainly has tremendous experience on credit and fixed income investments from the long past. Korean investors have strong knowledge on capabilities of assets, and this was thanks to financial education earlier that goes beyond to contribute in giving investors with deep knowledge in financial products across asset classes. Considering that China is opening up its door to overseas investors, this will certainly influence positively to neighboring countries like Korea. With all these reasons, Korean economy has a bright future ahead as an overall.

Mother of two children and a wife in family, Andrea Muller shares that “life is so busy and fun, and also dynamic work and different clients make workplace more energetic”. Spending time with Andrea made us realize that challenging environment is actually a positive invitation of life, and moreover, Andrea’s blessed fortune is not only from external environment but also from her inner optimism and self-esteem.

 

Bio

Executive Director at Principal Global Investors (PGI)

Global Head of Institutional Business at Principal Global Investors (PGI)

Chief Executive of Asia (CEO)at Principal Global Investors (PGI)

European Partner atShearman&Sterling

Managing Director atUBS Investment Bank in France and Singapore

Head of Fitch Ratings Asia Pacific (CEO)

Juris Doctorate from Georgetown Law Center

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