Money Moves

Grooming future leaders

by Ada Poon

(from left to right)
Maggie Liu and Joe Tsang, assistant vice presidents
Ben Chan, senior vice president and team head
Alan Wong, vice president
Sophia Yu, senior vice president
commercial banking, HSBC
Photo: Johnny Kwok

In the dynamic banking industry, the need for leadership is extremely important, especially at one of the world's largest banking and financial institutions.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) has a leadership skills checklist of desirable qualities for managers which includes: being innovative and forward looking; having good business judgement; being able to lead, inspire and develop others; and valuing teamwork, diversity and integrity.

A 26-month management associate programme (MAP) is in place to help high-potential talents develop these qualities and strengthen their capabilities, and to foster future leaders for the bank's commercial banking business.

The programme is open to current graduates and recent graduates who have up to three years' work experience. It consists of three distinct but correlated phases, starting with placement in the trade services to build up customer service skills and experience, and followed by group graduate development training in the UK where the management associates enjoy an opportunity to learn and network with colleagues from all over the world. In the third phase, participants are placed in a credit lending and relationship management role as an assistant vice president.

Maggie Liu and Joe Tsang are current participants of MAP serving as assistant vice presidents of the bank's commercial banking section. Both believe the programme has had an impact on their careers. Ms Liu says that meeting counterparts from other countries and delivering a presentation to Stephen Green, group chairman of HSBC, at the UK training had a remarkable effect on her. Mr Tsang most fondly remembers the team building exercises, such as fireman and teacher training, which he found exciting and effective in consolidating leadership, collaboration and adaptability skills.

The programme stresses both theory and on-the-job practice, and offers participants the chance to manage teams, drive business and handle important accounts. Mr Tsang is appreciative of the confidence that the bank has in new executives. "Those tasks come with a great deal of responsibilities and many companies would not trust that to new staff," he says.

Sense and practicality

Alan Wong, vice president, commercial banking, emphasises the importance of adaptability in a leader as he or she must cope with expanding business scope and product portfolios. Sophia Yu, senior vice president, commercial banking, adds, "Being in a leadership role, the ability to swiftly react to different situations is essential. It is also critical to have good market acumen and deploy effective strategies to keep up with fast changes in the industry." Ben Chan, senior vice president and team head, commercial banking, reiterates these sentiments and notes that managers are always required to put such skills into practice. "We adapt quickly to the new market demands," he says.

Looking to the future, all five are heading in different development directions to advance in their respective career paths. One thing they share in common though, is confidence that the company will provide them diverse opportunities and support to help them step into the next stage.

Taken from Career Times 13 July 2007, p. A2
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