HSBC CEO speaks at Leadership Series
Published: Monday, October 17, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 00:10
To be successful in the world of business and life, a person must be able to confront the issues laid before him or her in a calm and collected fashion, for it is always possible to take a risky situation and navigate through it in order to come out on top.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Marlon Young, CEO of HSBC's Private banking branch in the Americas, came to Baruch College to be interviewed at the first Zicklin Leadership Series of Fall 2011 and spoke of doing just that.
The Leadership Series is an event that has brought in creators of business, entrepreneurs and financial officers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Craig Newmark, the creator of Craigslist and David Landau, president and CEO of David Landau & Associates, LLC.
The interviews are conducted by professor Donald Vredenburgh of the Zicklin School and are aimed at enlightening Baruch students and those who are already aligned within the business world to the success stories of affluent business people so that students too will succeed when their time comes.
Young's message to the crowd was that one must have, "passion, vision, and be able to challenge the norm in a complex environment as we have today."
The CEO's personal story is one that can truly fit this statement. Born in the Philippines to Chinese parents, Young came to America to create a better life for himself, and that is exactly what he did.
After a few years of trying to find himself in college, Young ended up working at Citigroup, where he worked himself up from a management trainee, to eventually hold several positions, such as head of the Region for Cititgroup Private Bank, head of investment finance and senior credit officer of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
After a long career, something that he said is key to moving forward in a company, Young was presented with an opportunity to further improve upon himself.
"I had left Citigroup after 27 years," said Young. "I considered it a very successful career there."
Young used an anecdote from his initial six months at HSBC to outline why it is imperative for a leader to be able to remain calm when life throws you a curve ball.
In 2006, after 27 years at Citigroup, Young was asked by the CEO of HSBC's private banking division in the Americas to join the company. Although this was a leap for Young, the actions of other employees placed him into a calamitous situation.
The day that Young entered into the ranks of HSBC, 18 of his fellow executives walked out on him in a movement to impact the bank.
"Your jaws dropped," Young said in regards to the dismal situation he presented to the audience.For many, this kind of catastrophe would spell doom, for this is a make it or break it scenario.
However, Young viewed this as an opportunity to bolster his position. He used this story as an example as to why it is key that leaders must be able to hit the ground running when calamity strikes.
"When you have 18 executives walk out on you, clients are confused, employees are confused," said Young.
As a result of this, Young acted deftly to resolve the situation and assure the clients of the deserters that HSBC would not abandon them. Just because the customer's personal banker had left, Young had to convince these folks that there were people at HSBC to ease the transition.
"In six months we stabilized the situation," Young said. "Ninety percent of our customers stayed with us and I was able to bring in, over the first three years, eighty people that knew me and wanted to work with me."
Young dictated that situations like these shape the kind of leader one will become in the business spectrum.
"When things like this happen, you cannot be frazzled and be a nervous wreck. You have to exude confidence," said Young.
Another important discussion of the event was the importance of diversity in the workplace, a reality that is important to the corporate culture of HSBC. With 330,000 employees in 90 countries worldwide, diverse backgrounds make up much of the workforce of HSBC.
"Without cultural diversity you cannot be effective, its part of our DNA," said Young. "There is never enough in the terms of women and minorities in positions of power."
Young then transitioned into the idea of finding a job under his own pretenses. He referred to the fact that resumes should be kept short and concise, only a page long at most. Eye contact and personality are key as well.
Having international experience is also another key notion laid out, considering the work that HSBC does across the globe.
Another aspect of his own hiring process protocol was that he would not consider people who have jumped from company to company.
Young spelled out that when he sees a resume of someone with years of experience and someone who has worked at several companies within that time period, it raises a red flag in his mind.
"We don't promote stars," said Young. "We like team stars, where a whole collaborative group has done well."
When one wants to advance in a company and how it is done is always ask for more work. Also taking up special projects to build up one's repertoire takes time.