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Helen Wong’s journey from HSBC to the top of OCBC is complete

Wong’s departure from HSBC, where she was head of Greater China, in August 2019 raised the questions of where could she be going and why. The answer is that she will succeed Samuel Tsien as OCBC’s chief executive. What does it mean for the bank?

Chris Wright on Asia 1920px.jpg

OCBC has named Helen Wong as its new chief executive, replacing Samuel Tsien upon his retirement on April 14.

Wong becomes the first female chief executive of a Singapore bank, in an appointment that makes greater sense of her departure from HSBC in August 2019.

Wong, who rose to be chief executive of HSBC Greater China, started her career at OCBC in 1984 as a desk manager and her return bookends a career spent mainly in Hong Kong and China, including a spell as chair of the Hong Kong Association of Banks.

Her departure from HSBC, coming so close to the ousting of John Flint as chief executive, was closely watched.

At the time, HSBC was under exceptional scrutiny from every angle. It was worrying about China’s expected list of unreliable organizations, and the pressure that had been put on other Hong Kong-linked iconic corporates such as Cathay Pacific.

HSBC Greater China CEO Helen Wong, Li & Fung Chairman Victor Fung Speak At Seminar
Helen Wong. Bloomberg via Getty Images

At the same time, it was being pushed to help the US Department of Justice in its investigation of Huawei.

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