Kate Simon

Global Head of Strategic, Customer and Commercial Outcomes, Wealth and Personal Banking

London, UK

Joined in 2018

I used to have two rules when it came to my career: no big corporates and no financial services. I thought they would be the polar opposite of the fast-paced, entrepreneurial environments that I was used to. But banking is going through a major digital transformation, so it’s an interesting time to join HSBC – and I’m really enjoying it.

Defining digital

My role is to help the bank’s Wealth and Personal Banking business achieve its aim of becoming a customer-centred bank with digital and data at its core. My team – which is spread across London, Hong Kong and New York state – works with all the markets in the business, identifying key strategic opportunities and associated targets, and then tracking our progress against them. We also keep abreast of competitor, market and customer trends to understand where future opportunities may lie. Ultimately we want to provide our customers with competitive products and services that are personal and relevant to them.

For this job it’s important to be analytical, numerate and curious about data and the story it tells. You also have to be able to look at the bigger picture, to think strategically and often laterally, and feel comfortable without necessarily having all the answers. Making the bank more digitally focused means by definition you will be doing things that haven’t been done here before. You try things out and learn and adapt as you go.

A typical workday for me is spent doing a lot of talking – but it’s very wide-ranging conversation. There are lots of meetings with teams around the world, to discuss where they are in relation to the targets we have agreed. This is balanced with longer term discussions about the business’s progress on its transformation journey. And a significant portion of my time is spent outside of my core role, as I am a sponsor for some of the diversity and inclusion programmes within Wealth and Personal Banking. Essentially this means that I am trying to help make sure that everyone working here can fulfil their potential.

I’ve had a varied career, and I think it’s a good illustration that no single mould fits the people who work here. While doing my degree in mechanical engineering, I set up a business managing a roster of pop artists, dancers and choreographers. This took me to London, where I spent time managing well known television and radio personalities. I even appeared as a dancer myself in some pop videos.

After this I worked for data-driven marketing agencies, before moving to work directly for businesses that were predominantly in the media, ecommerce and retail sector. Over the years I’ve been involved in a variety of companies, from start-ups in their very early stages to global businesses going through customer or digital transformation. I’ve found that this ‘non-banking’ experience really helps as you see things from a different perspective.

Being able to work flexibly is extremely important to me. Ten years ago my family and I moved to the South of France to fulfil our dream of being close to beaches in summer and skiing in the winter. It means that for four days I week I live in London and work in the office, and on Fridays I work from home. HSBC have been very supportive, and this is one of the most progressive companies that I’ve experienced in terms of flexible working. When I’m not working, I’m enjoying an outdoor lifestyle as much as possible. I’m not dancing so much these days – boxing and running are the way I keep fit now.

I’d encourage people to consider building their career at HSBC. In my experience it’s rare that you find an opportunity where the scale of what can be achieved is huge, the people are inspiring, and there are the resources to make your ambitions a reality. HSBC has all three.

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