In the lead up to the announcement of the winner of the inaugural Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award, Charlene Leung chats with Kimberley Cole, Head of Specialist Sales for the Asia Pacific region of Thomson Reuters’ Financial and Risk Business.

Australian-born but Hong Kong-based, Kimberley Cole exudes confidence and passion when she discusses her successful global career and the range of social causes she contributes to, including gender equality and anti-slavery.

When asked why she chose to enter the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, Kimberley says that she is always inspired by the amazing women who were honoured at the Awards, and to be recognised as part of this Alumni is a privilege and honour.

“Reaching this stage did give me pause to reflect on some of my accomplishments,” she says.

There is certainly plenty to reflect on.

Kimberley has lived and worked in five cities, with eight international moves. She’s currently based in Hong Kong as head of specialist sales for the Asia Pacific region for Thomson Reuters, the world’s largest supplier of intelligent news and information to professionals.

In her primary role, Kimberley leads the Asian sales team of more than 150 specialists focused on delivering solutions across the financial markets. Over the past three years, her team has delivered the top sales performance in the company, making Asia the fastest growth region in the business, and delivering US$1.1 billion revenue per year.

Outside of this role, Kimberley is a fearless advocate for anti-slavery throughout the Asia Pacific region, and her passion is evident as she explains how she became involved in championing this cause.

“I attended a presentation on anti-slavery that detailed the plight of slaves, and I realised this was something I had to do something about. Soon after, I visited Cambodia to understand more about the impact of this crime,” Kimberley says.

It didn’t take her long to put her business acumen to work by mobilising Thomson Reuters to help her launch Trust Forum Asia in 2015, which she claims as her proudest achievement of the past five years.

Trust Forum Asia is an annual conference that brings together governments, corporations, banks and NGOs to take real action to stop modern day slavery. They do this by forging tangible commitments and creating actionable initiatives to stop slavery across the Asia-Pacific region.

Since the 2015 event, there have been support of seven organisations, one of which has developed tools for training lawyers, police and court works, to ensure improved treatment of child victims of trafficking.

“The slavery ’industry’ is estimated to be worth more than US$150 billion and there are now more than 45 million modern-day slaves, with more than half of them in Asia. Through Trust Forum we are taking action to address this terrible crime,” said Kimberley.

“We have connected and worked with some amazing, dedicated and inspiring individuals to get this initiative off the ground. The learnings have been immense – from the scale of the problem, the challenges to address and how and who will really take action.”

Kimberley says recognition as a Telstra Business Women’s Award Finalist will provide her with an additional boost for her anti-slavery actions.

Kimberley is one of seven inaugural finalists for the Telstra Business Woman in Asia category; the winner will be announced on Wednesday 16 November in Melbourne.

For more information on the Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award and to nominate brilliant business women for the 2017 Awards, visit telstrabusinesswomensawards.com