After 25 years of evolving in a traditionally male world, Bicha Ngo wants to pave the way for women. Senior Vice-President of Private Placements at Investissement Québec, she proudly states that Quebec companies financed by the Crown corporation that have a female leader have increased from 10% to 19% over the past three years.
“It’s something close to my heart,” she said. In 2020, we were around 10%. We set ourselves the parameters to gradually reach 18% in 2023. As of February 2023, we were around 19%! »
However, nothing is forced. “We sensitize our investment managers to give opportunities to women. We do a lot of marketing to invite women leaders to meet us. And we encourage our partner funds to be more sensitive in this regard. »
In 1997, Bicha Ngo was one of only three women to work in investment banking in Quebec, starting out at Merrill Lynch. “A friend told me it was a world of sharks and I wouldn’t survive. She thought I was too nice. The comment never held her back.
Ironically, nothing predestined her to clear the way. “I come from a traditional Vietnamese family. Dad wanted me to become a doctor and take over his clinic. I did my pure sciences in CEGEP. The path was marked out for me. »
However, she enrolled in art history. “It was out of pure self-interest. I already saw myself as a curator for a museum in Florence. But it was above all a year for me, to find out what my dreams were. »
Her Cartesian side and her ease in mathematics redirected her to a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a specialization in finance, at HEC Montreal. “Jacques Bourgeois, who led the finance component of the MBA program, advised me to go into investment banking to be intellectually stimulated. When I discovered the transactional adrenaline of mergers and acquisitions files or market admissions, I loved it! »
It must be said that she lived through the boom of the techno bubble in the late 1990s at Merrill Lynch, before developing her skills in a variety of sectors (aerospace, manufacturing, techno, pulp and paper, life sciences) at CIBC Capital Markets. Then, she participated in the development of a new line of business at Domtar, while the company was experiencing the decline of its industry.
With Investissement Québec since December 2019, Bicha Ngo strives to propel Quebec companies here and abroad. “We are ready to take a lot more risks than before. »
That said, with her, the risks are calculated.
The Cartesian manager is however far from decisions devoid of humanity. “My emotional intelligence helps me a lot. I am inspired by my mother. Even though Dad took the lead and she was very self-effacing, she showed incredible sensitivity. In investment, we invest in a company and in a business plan, but in the end, we mainly support entrepreneurs. »