BIV is proud to recognize eight exceptional corporate executives with 2023 C-Suite Awards.
Six CEOs and two CFOs were recently featured in BIV's print edition, including Kabam, Inc. CFO Kay Wong-Alafriz, who will be recognized with a BC CEO Award at an in-person event Nov. 15.
Wong-Alafriz is the CFO of Kabam, Inc. – a world leader in developing entertaining, immersive and highly social multiplayer games. During her career, she has been instrumental in supporting public, private and not-for-profit companies in achieving their corporate goals. Wong-Alafriz has her ICD.D designation and serves as a board director at The Planting Hope Company, DigiBC and the Vancouver Community College Foundation. She has been recognized among BIV’s BC500 list of influential leaders and as a Top 25 CFO in Vancouver in finance and investing.
The following Q&A with Hopkins has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
What has been your greatest business or career success to date?
Against the backdrop of a high-stakes odyssey, I was part of licensing, financing, constructing and operating a world-class award-winning integrated casino resort in a one-party, communist Southeast Asian nation (Vietnam) during a tumultuous time, where the world was gripped by the 2008 economic recession.
We journeyed against headwinds of credit crunch, regulatory hurdles, forced layoffs and cost overruns, each one posing a new test to the financial feasibility of our colossal project. Beyond a business venture, I realized the human capacity to overcome even the most daunting challenges and emerge with a shining jewel in the crown of Vietnamese tourism for generations to come.
Seeing this through from idea to operation profoundly shaped my admiration for the strength of the human spirit and an overwhelming sense of gratefulness towards my remarkable colleagues and the power of teamwork.
What was your toughest professional or career decision?
Early in my career, I worked in law enforcement as a forensic accountant in cases involving serious crimes and acts against humanity. While it was often emotionally and professionally challenging, I realized how my work could impact professional decisions and contribute positively to society. Dealing with complex financial transactions, money laundering and fraud in these cases sharpened my analytical skills to scrutinize data and detect irregularities, all of which became invaluable in my subsequent roles. It also reinforced the importance of ethical behaviour, adherence to professional standards and reinforced my strong commitment to doing what’s right, even when faced with challenging decisions. Finally, these cases often involved international elements, which provided me with a broader global perspective. This understanding can be invaluable in an increasingly interconnected world.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career who offered guidance in various aspects of my life. Each had their own unique perspective on success and personal growth with one common message: Define success for yourself. Being grounded in a clear vision and having my definition of success is the foundation needed before pursuing it through empathetic leadership and understanding that the decisions I make are impactful in shaping my future and ability to achieve success. A few quotes that resonate: “Live your life by a compass, not a clock” (Stephen R. Covey); “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care” (Theodore Roosevelt); “Success is not final, failure is not fatal (mostly): it is the courage to continue that counts” (Winston Churchill).
How do you lead?
I believe in the power of people! At the heart of my leadership philosophy, I am driven by connection. I have a genuine passion for connecting individuals and teams and cultivating an empowering environment where everyone is aligned on a mission, clear on how to get there and set up to thrive. At its core, people are the driving force in accomplishing great things.
Biggest personal and professional areas of growth over the past year?
It’s been a tough year – everything we do is more complex, uncertainty is constant and I spend more time than ever leading and supporting my teams in navigating through this, providing as much clarity, stability and empowerment as possible. Personally, grounding in my values and finding balance in and outside of work has been a tremendous growth in my ability to connect with people on a deeper, more personal level. This has enriched my life in countless ways, from forming new friendships to expanding my perspectives through the lens of others.
Tickets are available to BIV's 2023 C-Suite Awards on Nov. 15 in Vancouver. More information on the event and this year's award winners is available here.