Women of STRAIT: Francesca Liu

When I joined STRAIT in October 2017, there were only five females in the firm. This did not surprise me as it is common in financial services. It is also industry standard that the higher the rank is, the fewer women you will find owning these roles. However, this unbalanced gender ratio did not remain for long. As STRAIT grew, the firm hired women across all different levels and service lines. The female population has grown rapidly by 500% since I joined the firm a year and half ago. Not only has the female population grown in the firm, but also the gender diversity has balanced across all levels, from staff to leadership.

To be a successful firm that attracts and retains top talent, it is very important to create a gender diverse culture of inclusion. Having diverse backgrounds in meetings also results in more innovative ideas and better identified solutions. In addition, with the increasing number of female business owners and decision-makers leading companies and other organizations, the firms that include women in leadership will also be able to compete for the business of the women-led companies.

To continually maintain this gender-balanced work environment across different levels, I believe there is a need for companies to create women’s committees. A women’s committee will provide a platform for participants to develop the professional skills needed to gain recognition in the firm. This will also encourage growth of leadership skills, networking, and mentoring programs.

I had the opportunity in early 2019 to help establish the ‘Women of STRAIT’ committee. Our mission is to empower women at the firm to achieve lifelong success by offering resources and opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. In February 2019, several of the women from STRAIT attended Bizwomen Mentoring Monday hosted by Dallas Business Journal. Each attendee felt empowered by learning from the shared experiences of the most influential female leaders in North Texas. Throughout 2019, Women of STRAIT will continue to participate in professional development events as well as host a variety of events to build and enhance professional and leadership skills.

By starting and leading the women’s committee, I have learned to recognize the importance of listening. To have all the women at STRAIT agree upon the mission of this committee required listening to each person’s thoughts and opinions. Listening with an open mind allowed each member’s personalities and strengths to shine in developing the committee’s common goals. Listening shows that everyone’s opinion matters. This skill also helps me to provide great service to our clients and to build out a new team within the firm.  

Prior to joining STRAIT, I was an Assistant Controller at Hudson Advisors LP where I oversaw over forty deals under the Lone Star Private Equity Funds. My initial position out of school was at Deloitte & Touche where I provided audit and assurance services for hedge fund clients. While at STRAIT, I was involved in onboarding one of the firm’s largest clients while building out the hybrid fund of funds team. With a hedge fund and private equity fund background, I was able to apply my knowledge to hybrid fund of funds, clean up historical data, set up new processes, build customized investor statements, and train additional team members. Building a team focused on hybrid fund of funds was such a great opportunity for me and notably sharpened my leadership skills. I am happy to have had the opportunity to join STRAIT and I am excited to continue learning as the firm grows.