XXIV - 2015

Rebecca Wei, president of Christie's Asia, understands the importance of split-second decisions


PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 3:12pm

Undoubtedly, the greatest challenge in the auction business is making split-second decisions quickly and in time. When the hammer comes down, you've either got it or you've lost it, and the stakes can be as high as hundreds of millions of dollars. 

"Things happen in seconds," says Rebecca Wei, president of Christie's Asia. "Last spring in New York, we auctioned this US$180 million Picasso. That was just a minute's business. I still remember in seconds [what it's like at an auction], I was putting up my hand, and said 'one more'. In seconds, US$10 million goes out, US$100 million goes out - just like that."

Many people see Christie's as a big auction house, but Wei believes it is simply an organisation that loves art. Part of her job involves advising clients on how to bid for art. Sometimes it calls for coaching people on how to enjoy life through obtaining wines and beautiful objects such as paintings. 

She admits she can't resist art, even during holidays from work. "I tour art galleries or museums, so I find myself in London or in Paris. There is a lot of arts activity going on around the world. Wherever I go, there is one thing I cannot escape - bumping into clients, they are art lovers. 

"I do encourage people to spend time at art fairs when they have leisure time and when they are off. These are the personal secret joys of life. I think everyone should just explore and enjoy that."

The clock never stops for Wei but, as a working mother, she has her way of prioritising commitments between work and family.

"I find that in a career, you are always occupied, but you need to realise that you are not a working machine. You are in charge of different roles, different timing, life stages, and different priorities in your life. Sometimes you play a role of a senior manager, and you have to pay attention to that - to your company, to your colleagues, teams and clients. Sometimes, you need to cut it off - it's a weekend, or your kids' first day of school. Then it's the family time, and your role is a mum."

Wei prefers to split up her duties instead of multitasking, so she concentrates on one role per day. She also values living in the present. "I believe it's different days, different priorities, and you prioritise based on your role. Your role of today is your role of that period. So that's how I manage my life," she says.

"Make full use of the time you have and live fully. Back in China, there is a saying that time is money. I disagree with that - I think everyone should enjoy the present. The past is the past - that's history. Don't look back too much, the present is critical. [With] the future, you can always hope for the best, but it hasn't [been] written yet. So make sure that you live fully in the present. And the present is the present, it's a gift." EN

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