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Lee Suat May, CFA

Investment Manager

Cradle Seed Ventures

May is a finance professional with a wealth of experience across venture capital, investment banking, and assurance. She is presently an investment manager with Cradle Seed Ventures, overseeing the fund’s investments from end to end. She is always looking for the next big thing, and doesn’t shy away from challenges and opportunities. May loves to write, and considers herself a closet storyteller. She is also a member of Malaysian Mensa.

“The CFA designation has helped me career-wise, but what I got out of the program was more than the charter: it is the discipline I learned along the way, and the importance of always keeping your eyes on the prize.”


How would you describe yourself?

I am a finance professional who has been in the field for close to 10 years, with experience across venture capital (VC), investment banking, and assurance. Besides numbers, I like to think I am as good with words. I’m also a member of Malaysian Mensa.


Why did you pursue a career in finance?

This was actually a result of me not knowing what I wanted to pursue after graduating high school; my parents encouraged me to explore business in college.

I started my career with Ernst & Young Malaysia, and completed the CPA (Australia) program during that time. Afterwards, I moved on to investment banking in CIMB Investment Bank. Going into VC, where I am now, was one of the best career choices I have made. I decided to apply for a VC position because I have always had an interest in the start-up space. It has been such an interesting ride since, and I’m looking forward to expanding my horizons in this industry.


Why did you enroll in the CFA® Program?

I’ve always wanted to undertake the CFA Program, but put off signing up because having to juggle studies and long work hours was a bit tricky. It was a passing comment from a friend that spurred me into action — he joked that I was at “Level 0”. Within a week, I had enrolled.

The CFA Program requires dedication and sacrifice. Knowing my end goal — to pass on the first attempt — kept me mentally strong to stay on track.

The CFA® designation has helped me career-wise, but what I got out of the program was more than the charter: it is the discipline I learned along the way, and the importance of always keeping your eyes on the prize.” Future CFA® Program candidates should always remember why they enrolled, and what they intend to get out of it; this is what will keep you motivated.


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What is your work or life motto?

“I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’ll get there.”

I always want to be more, to have more, but this takes time. The statement is a reminder to persevere, to put in the necessary effort, and to continue believing that I will get where I want to be.


Which book do you think every investment professional should read?

Everyone would benefit from reading Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. While some details were found to be inaccurate post-publication, the book still provides significant insight into what it’s like to be born in one of the world’s most secretive countries.

It’s a good reminder of how fortunate we are to have the freedom to get the education, qualification, and job that we want.


What is the favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?

My favorite part is how it allows me both a bird’s-eye view of the tech landscape and a close-up look of technological applications from the creators themselves. Getting to dive into innovative business models and being able to pick founders’ brains are great work perks!

The challenge lies in deciding which investments will pay off. Because I look at investments in the early stages, it can be hard to tell which start-ups will make it. I don’t subscribe to the “spray and pray” approach; I invest with the aim of each one bringing positive returns.


Who is your fictional hero or heroine?

Hermione Granger. I admire her for her smarts and her constant thirst to be a better version of herself. She’s independent, unapologetically intelligent, and can more than hold her own among her peers. Yet she’s not stuck up about her abilities, willing to help those who seek her out.


Tell us your proudest moment to date.

My proudest moment is possibly when I led the cancellation of a deal on a local group-buying site. Group-buying deals were all the rage back then, and I came across this deal which allowed the public to buy pets from a pet shop at a heavily discounted price. To my horror, there were already a number of purchases, and the deal had been up for hours without anyone saying anything. I immediately fired a comment to their social media pages, detailing how this would lead to impulsive, irresponsible pet-buying and calling for them to cancel the deal. After this, there were many comments expressing support for my statement and my call to action. A short time later, the deal was taken down.

It’s a reminder to stand by my beliefs, and that just because something is allowed, doesn’t mean it’s right.


What is your favorite type of holiday?

One which allows me to soak in all things cultural — history, food, and people.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I'd like to — and am learning to — live in the moment more. Everyone nowadays is fixated with their phone screens and not really enjoying themselves, choosing instead to capture (and share) a moment they are not truly living in. We need to re-learn how to focus on the now.


Disclaimer: The content was written in March 2019. Information, views, opinions, and recommendations expressed belong to the interviewees thereof. They do not necessarily reflect the views of CFA Society Malaysia. In no event shall CFA Society Malaysia be liable for any damages resulting from their opinions.

Be inspired by CFA® charterholders and learn how their achievements can guide your career path.


Be inspired by CFA® charterholders and learn how their achievements can guide your career path.