Witad Awards 2020: Market and Credit Risk Professional of the Year—Elaine Wong, Moody's Analytics

Women in Data and Technology

Ask Elaine Wong what has had the biggest influence on her career path, and she will tell you it’s her curious nature. So it was fortuitous that her path should lead to Moody’s Analytics, which she says offers an environment that encourages curiosity and rewards those willing to raise their hand and ask for more responsibility.

Originally from Hong Kong, Wong started out in banking—first as a credit analyst at the Bank of Hawaii, then at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. “So I know that side of the business. I know the customers, how they analyze credit, and how they perform due diligence. I understand their pain points. … And Moody’s wanted that understanding.”

It was exactly this experience and understanding that two years ago led Wong—then a managing director in the vendor’s consulting services division—to tell her superiors that the vendor’s existing tools covering spreading, origination, and decision-making support couldn’t meet customers’ needs. The company took her advice, gathered requirements, created a proof-of-concept, then asked Wong to lead the project—her first product management role.

Here, her curiosity paid off again, having taken an interest through her career in learning not only the lingo used by both business and technology staff, but also the code used by developers.

“Developers aren’t impressed that I worked at a bank. But when they see me write SQL code on a whiteboard, they know they can talk to me,” she says.

The resulting solution, CreditLens, provides analytics to help firms make commercial lending decisions, and is built using an API framework to integrate content from elsewhere within Moody’s or from other providers. Wong spent the past year adding more tools to CreditLens, notably an artificial intelligence-based capability to automate the spreading process, reducing processing time by 70%, and spreading cost by 60%. This was previously a manual process of collecting information from financial statements or tax forms—“tedious but important so firms understand how much cash they have,” Wong says. Other enhancements include incorporating recent acquisition Bureau van Dijk’s entity database of public and private companies, and natural-language processing technologies to extract and standardize data from documents.

Next up, over this year and 2021, Wong will focus on growing Moody’s commercial real estate data. The vendor is already active in real estate via its 2018 purchase of Reis, and now plans to expand its coverage with more analytics. And yes, she’s still curious, and says there’s plenty going on at Moody’s to keep her that way.

MB

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