Esther Kim – CUP Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I currently work as a Vice President within BlackRock’s US/CAN Institutional Sales Distribution Channel. Within that business, I roll up to the Chief Operating Officer with the mandate to streamline processes, produce internal/external collateral, develop product training, and better enable client-facing relationships managers for sales and client service.

I was originally recruited to service Asian ex-Jap Institutional Clients from the NY office. After working in the International Team for a little over a year, I was asked to support an integration initiative (when BlackRock merged with Barclays Global Investors) specifically around fixed income commentaries. I have stayed with the current team ever since, but in various capacities and functions.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

Client facing relationship managers’ main focus is to spend time with clients.  So it can be a tricky dynamic to gain the time/energy/effort from relationship managers to work internal projects (that are important for the long term, yet seem less urgent in the short term). What has helped offset the challenge has been building proper buy-in from senior management, developing relationships, and producing quality content in establishing priorities and credibility.

What is your proudest achievement?

Most recently, helping BlackRock to establish and launch the MultiCultural Network (MCN) has been my proudest achievement. Although it is one of the younger affinity groups, it currently has the largest membership body. Over the course of the past two years, I have served as the NY Events Subcommittee Leader and now am on the Steering Committee where I shape the content, strategy, and momentum through a number of initiatives:

  • Hosting one of the most distinctive and highest attended events hosted by an affinity group. The Art Gallery we brought in-house showcased pieces of artists from under represented countries and started a dialogue for cultural appreciation and awareness.
  •  Leading the initiative for coordinating efforts among the other BlackRock Affinity Networks through co-hosted events
  • Launching the MCN Career Chats, Featured Speakers, Internal Mobility Series, Dining Around the World
  • Partnering with one of the businesses to kick-off a competition to increase engagement in our product understanding and market awareness. The iShares Fund Frenzy is a fantasy-style, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) game geared towards understanding how to better utilize iShares in a portfolio for domestic and international investment exposure. It gave an opportunity for employees to showcase their strategic and tactical global investment ideas through iShares products.

It’s been rewarding to take an idea and be given the resources and platform to run with it and see its progression and growth. It’s also been challenging and satisfying to build a sustainable team of people (who use their extra time outside of work) and help them harness their skills to cultivate and nurture an idea from inception to execution.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

The types of leaders I admire are those who are have exceptional influence yet are surprisingly approachable, humble, and take the time to connect with the individual.  They are clear and passionate about their life mission and they live it out consistently on a daily basis. They are an inspiration not only in their actions, but also in their ability to articulate and share that vision regularly (each time with slight variation to keep the message still interesting), and thus in the end, mobilize people.

They also open up a platform for people to develop their skillsets. They are admired because they lead the pack by going through the pain first, but are also loved because they go through the extra step of checking in on those who follow and then developing them as future leaders too.

What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?

I hope to gain rich and meaningful relationships across industries/interests that are built on trust and a common vision.