By Sarah Walker

Long-Long Wu, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Relations and Enterprise Compliance & Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Program at Scotiabank, emphasizes the transformative power of sponsorship in navigating the corporate ladder.

Coaching, mentorship, and sponsorship are all critical elements of career progression. A coach can help to guide your development, particularly your soft skills. A mentor is like a trusted advisor, who offers advice on your career, often using their own personal experiences to help solve challenges. Long-Long Wu emphasizes that sponsorship, however, goes beyond, with a sponsor acting as your ‘career champion’ who goes to bat for you. They not only recognize but actively promote an individual’s work, thus significantly widening their career opportunities.

Long-Long believes sponsorship was a defining element for her own successful career development. “The opportunities I’ve been given, and the programs I’ve led, didn’t come only because someone noticed I was doing a good job. It was also from a tap on the shoulder because someone had heard about my work and impact, through a person who had capital within an organization. They were sponsoring me, and I didn’t know it.”

These kinds of sponsorships can be life-changing, she notes, especially for equity-deserving employees, who could be doing everything right and still hit a career plateau — which, research shows, they likely will.

“Sponsorship can generate a different outcome for an employee. It can broaden and expand their opportunities,” she says.

Helping to raise others up is something Long-Long is particularly passionate about. As someone who belongs to several equity-deserving groups — she’s a woman of Asian descent and is also an immigrant — she’s had to overcome being stereotyped at several points in her career.

Long-Long’s passion for sponsorship is reflected in her role as a Cohort Champion of Scotiabank’s Control Functions Global DEI Sponsorship Program. The unique initiative —which provides individuals from equity-deserving groups the opportunity to design and pitch an idea under the guidance of a sponsor — breaks down silos and allows employees to spotlight themselves in front of the Bank’s senior executives.


It’s much harder to aspire for a role when you don’t see someone you can emulate."

Long-Long Wu

With more than 20 years of progressive executive experience in compliance and risk in the banking industry, Long-Long has had ample opportunities to lead the way for others. In her current role, she is leading her team to successfully implement an enterprise-wide compliance transformation and, recently, she has expanded her role to include the Bank’s regulatory relations. She takes pride in helping to enable the Bank to keep clients safe as part of Scotiabank’s Compliance and AML team – a function in which more than half of the group is represented by women and led by a woman Chief Compliance Officer.

“Investing in women is important to me,” she says. “Had it not been for the strong women in my life who used their personal capital to invest in my growth, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Another point of pride for Long-Long over her decades-long career is the way she’s gone about building the teams she’s managed, regardless of the role she’s held — whether it’s being at a global consulting firm or a financial institution. This is particularly true in her current position at Scotiabank, where her team is tasked with managing several high-profile projects that enable the organization to achieve Scotiabank’s vision of becoming its client’s most trusted financial partner.

In her leadership role, Long-Long practices what some have described as “servant leadership”. This leadership philosophy is built on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others, rather than accrue power or take control. A servant leader prioritizes helping their teams develop and achieve their full potential.

“As Simon Sinek once said, leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about taking care of those in our charge,” notes Long-Long. “I do my best to lead from the heart and understand who someone is. I adapt [how I work with each team member] based on what I believe will enable them to succeed, and always work to create a psychologically safe environment for my teams.” She’s made it a priority to meet with employees across the team on a consistent basis.

Long-Long also shares advice she learned from her father, guidance she calls “the three f’s.”

“The three F’s are: be fair, meaning stay curious and respect the boundaries of others; be firm, which means work hard, stay accountable, even as you celebrate every win; and be friendly, which translates into making yourself approachable and accessible,” she says. “I’ve lived my life taking this page out of my father’s book, and it’s been extremely beneficial.” It’s worthwhile to mention that her team members added two extra f’s to their comments about her in a recent review: fact-based and fun.

In the end, Long-Long says, all the work she’s doing with Scotiabank to empower and improve the visibility of equity-deserving groups is her way of “paying it forward.” She knows she couldn’t be where she is if people hadn’t spoken up on her behalf.

“It’s not to say you’re not going to succeed without a sponsor; you can – but it can propel you in the right direction,” she says. “I’m here to help everyone grow in the ranks of a company, whether that’s vertically or horizontally. It’s an important way to invest my time.”

This article was first published in Women of Influence and is republished with permission.