Shirley Leong

Director and Head Global Payments & Cash Management

Has been with this company for 8 years and 6 months

Professional association memberships
Council Member of the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia; Member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants; Fellow of Certified Practising Accountants Australia; Co-opted member, Tax Practice Committee, Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Getting started
I chose this field based on my degree. Since I did not want to become a professional accountant, I decided to work in a bank. I started my career in a global financial institution and moved to a regional bank prior to joining HSBC. I have always been in corporate and commercial banking and have had the opportunity to deal with businesses ranging from small-medium enterprises to large listed corporates and multinational corporates.

The turning point
There was not a specific event that I would describe as the ‘turning point’. Instead it was through hard work, continuous learning, self-development, and the willingness to take on projects and initiatives that were not necessarily within my job scope. It was through these experiences that I was able to stretch and grow which better prepared me for the different challenges I would face later in senior roles. HSBC offers many opportunities for employees to take on challenging portfolios that will test their growth potential.

Career highlights
The main highlight was my move from relationship management, which involved managing a portfolio of clients, to leading a team of relationship managers in transaction banking, ie, cash management. This was a very big move as I had to lead a team of 80 cash management professionals providing corporates with the appropriate solutions. The experience gained was invaluable in preparing me for a leadership role in a specialised product area. I was also fortunate to be selected for an internal leadership development programme involving a sustainability project in Mexico. I was able to collaborate with a diverse group of colleagues from across the globe to make a positive difference to a small community halfway across the world.

Advice for graduates
Graduates wishing to work in HSBC need to be versatile, willing to learn and also be committed to trying new things. Do not shy away from non-ideal roles as it is often in these roles where you will learn the most. Push yourself to learn as much as you can to build your own personal portfolio of skills, and actively build relationships with your colleagues, customers and stakeholders. It is best to join a company whose core values align with yours.

Key skills for future leaders
Business leaders will need to continue to develop themselves in management and leadership skills. The composition of the workforce is changing and we are dealing with an increasingly diversified group with different needs. We will need to continuously up-skill our employees to be able to lead, engage and motivate our teams.