|Wei Sun Christianson|
21 August 1956 |
CEO and Managing Director China, Co-CEO Asia PacificMorgan Stanley
Wei Christianson, née Sun (born August 21, 1956) is a Managing Director and Co-CEO of Asia Pacific and CEO of China for Morgan Stanley. She is also a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. In addition to her regional role, she is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s operations in China.
Early Life & Education
Wei Sun Christianson was born on August 21, 1956 to an army officer father and doctor mother as part of the Frontier Generation from China's Cultural Revolution. She grew up in Beijing as the youngest of four daughters. Growing up, her mother would often sew clothes that were "just a bit more stylish than what was generally available", stimulating Christianson's early interests in fashion. Her parents believed strongly in a Western education, going as far as to spend a month's salary buying her a tape recorder so she could play English tapes. She took the Gao Kao in 1978 and was accepted by the prestigious Beijing Language and Culture University, with the intention of learning English and working as a translator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During college, she met visiting Columbia University professor Randle Edwards and was urged to set her goals higher, aiming to become a lawyer as it would be a more respected profession and highly atypical of women at the time. As she wanted to ultimately attend Columbia Law School, Edwards advised that she first attain a degree from a top liberal arts college in the U.S. in order to better her chances of acceptance.
Christianson applied to dozen liberal arts colleges in the United States and was accepted to all of them. In 1983 she transferred to Amherst College and became its first student from mainland China following China's opening to the Western world in the early 1980s. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science in 1985.
In 1992, Christianson and her husband moved to Hong Kong for his job. In order to raise a child (as continuing her law profession in Hong Kong would require her to travel), she attained a position as Associate Director in the Corporate Finance Department at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) drafting the regulatory structure that would enable the first batch of People's Republic of China companies to be listed outside China — a unique job that helped pave the way for her investment banking career. However, Christianson's husband felt that a career as a regulator did not fully meet Christianson's potential, and suggested pursuing a job in finance instead.
Christianson soon joined Morgan Stanley in 1998, where she was an executive director, Beijing chief representative, and a senior team member of Morgan Stanley's Resources, Power and Transportation Group, where she met her mentor John Mack. When Mack was ousted from Morgan Stanley in 2002, Christianson followed him to Credit Suisse First Boston, where he held positions as a managing director, chairman, and country manager. After that, Christianson joined Citigroup as a managing director and chairman of China, Citigroup Global Markets (Asia) Ltd., where she was responsible for the securities and investment banking businesses in China. Christianson returned to Morgan Stanley once again, under Mack's request, in 2006 as the Chief Executive Officer for China, and retains her position there to the present day. Since her return, Christianson has built out the Morgan team by 300% and played a critical role in many significant deals for the firm, such as the 2007 $5 billion sale of Morgan Stanley's stakes to China's state-owned China Investment Corporation.
As a banker, Wei has masterminded major initial public offerings including Sinopec, China Life, and SMIC, and oversaw the $4.2 billion acquisition of Gas Khazakstan by CNPC, which was the largest cross-border M&A deal ever undertaken in China at that time.
Wei also serves on the Board of the Estée Lauder Companies. She is also still a member of the Advisory Committee of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong, as well as a member of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s Strategic Planning Committee. Additionally, Christianson serves on the Board of Trustees of Amherst college.
Wei was listed in the Fortune magazine “International Power 50” in 2008 to 2013 and the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Asia-Pacific in 2014 and 2015. She has also been on Fortune’s “China Powerful Women” list.
Wei is one of the Wall Street Journal 50 Women to Watch of 2006, 2007 and 2008. She is one of the Top 25 Nonbank Women in Finance, 2007 and 2008, rated by American Banker and U.S. Banker. She was one of the 12 Financial Times's “Women of 2013” and was also on the Power Women to Watch list in 2010 and 2011.
Wei was named one of the Top 25 Women in Asian Finance by FinanceAsia magazine in 2015.
Wei received several awards recognizing her achievements as a Chinese native. She received the Pinnacle Award as one of the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business 2009 by Asian American Business Development Center. She also received the Legacy Award in 2008 by Museum of Chinese in America, and the China Women’s Achievement Award in 2008 by Women’s Federation of P.R. China and Sun Media Group.
Wei was awarded the Medal for Excellence by Columbia University School of Law Association. Christianson was also elected to the prestigious board of The Estée Lauder Companies in 2011, on which she currently serves.
Christianson is famously tight-lipped during interviews, often being elusive about or declining to give information.
She is also known to be well-dressed at all times, and has dabbled in design, participating in the 2015 Women Fashion Power exhibit at the Design Museum in London. She gave an interview with the museum detailing her fashion and beauty habits in which she states that she does not have a personal shopper, and does most of her shopping herself spontaneously while travelling around the world for work. She is very interested in skin care and her favorite designers are: Escada for suits, jeans, Chanel for suits, St. John for suits, Dolce Gabana for pants suits, MaxMara for pants suits, Christin Dior, Fendi for cocktail wear. Roberto Cavali for casual wear. She self describes her style as "professional", and believes that fashion should be an extension of the self, not blindly following trends but rather individualistic and making "a strong statement about one's self esteem, confidence, and presence".
Christianson has stated in multiple interviews that her mother was a major influence growing up. She states that her late mother was the one to support her staying in such a male dominated field even when Christianson felt like giving up. Her mother also spurred on her interests in fashion by tailoring her daughters' clothing and "modestly challenging the Chinese system".
She is married to American Jon Christianson, a partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates. She has stated that she and her husband split equal responsibilities and support each other in their work and in raising their children, compensating at home for each other's busy work hours. She is also the mother of three boys: Erik, Neil and Nicholas, the eldest of whom is also a graduate of Amherst. She currently lives with her family in Beijing.
- Seligson, Hannah (29 October 2010). "Wheeler and Dealer". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
- "Wei Sun Christianson". Design Museum. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- In the 1920s, Ye Gongchao (叶公超) attended and graduated from Amherst College as a student from mainland China. See here.
- "Wei Sun Christianson '85 Appointed to Board of Trustees". Amherst College News. July 19, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "The Estée Lauder Companies Elects Wei Sun Christianson to Its Board of Directors". Estee Lauder Companies. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- Mitchell, Tom (12 December 2013). "Wei Christianson". FT Magazine. FT Magazine. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- "Wei Christianson Morgan Stanley China CEO" (PDF). American Chamber of Commerce. October 26, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
- Leo, Jason (21 December 2007). "Morgan's Helping Hand in China". The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- Durmiak, Michael (1 December 2008). "The Top 25 Nonbank Women in Finance- #8 Wei Sun Christianson". American Banker. American Banker. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Columbia Law School: Powers of Persuasion". Columbia Law School Alumni. October 26, 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
- "The Most Powerful Women of Asia-Pacific". Fortune. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Women in finance: Wei Sun Christianson". FinanceAsia. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "The Estée Lauder Companies Elects Wei Sun Christianson to Its Board of Directors". Estee Lauder. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Women Fashion Power". Design Museum. Design Museum. Retrieved 19 August 2016.