Noel Quinn

Group Chief Executive - HSBC

Noel Quinn, group chief executive at HSBC, has long been one of Out Leadership’s most prominent advocates, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, where he hosted our 2016 Summit.

When Noel first joined our Global Advisory Board, Todd Sears noted that “Noel’s heartfelt and steadfast allyship has been a pleasure to watch ever since we first met, at our inaugural Summit in Europe in 2012. We look forward to having more opportunities to benefit from his wise counsel, as we continue to build our already strong collaboration.”

Please describe how and when you first knew you were an Ally:

I formally became an ally a number of years ago when I was asked to be Executive Sponsor of PRIDE, our LGBT+ employee resource group, in Hong Kong. I had a passion for Diversity & Inclusion and this was an issue in Asia Pacific that I was willing to take on.

How has being an Ally at work influenced your leadership approach and style?

Being an ally has encouraged me to make my views on inclusion much more public than I had previously, which has been very rewarding.

Who are your role models?

My parents. They believed in honesty and treating people fairly, to never be afraid to be independent and to have your own view.

If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:

I’m in it! But if I wasn’t in Banking I would probably be in the construction or engineering sectors. I’ve always been passionate about the parts of the industrial world that create and build things.

The most important thing I have learned from a boss is:

I believe you learn something from every boss, but the most important thing I learned was to never forget you don’t know everything.

Who are your role models?

My parents. They believed in honesty and treating people fairly, to never be afraid to be independent and to have your own view.

This person is my LGBT+ hero, because:

The employee who came out to me as a test run for coming out to their parents. Although I didn’t realise that was what was happening at the time, it must have taken a great deal of courage.

My first job was:

Digging holes on a building site.

The most tantalizing leadership opportunity I see in the world right now is:

Building a sense of common purpose and togetherness in a world that’s becoming fractured.

The best piece of advice I ever received was:

Be yourself and be authentic as a leader – don’t just follow a leadership textbook. It doesn’t pay to pretend to be something you’re not.

The next big thing for the global LGBT+ community is:

To translate great communication and momentum, and a growing voice, into substantive change.

The next big step for me in my career could be:

Who knows! I’m very focused on what I’m doing now.

What would be the opening song in a movie about your life, and why?

Anything from Bob Marley – my Mum loved reggae so we spent a lot of time listening to it growing up which was unusual for a traditional Irish mother. Or Phil Collins’ ‘In the air tonight’. I used to play it for my boys before football games to get them psyched up for the game to come.

The six things I could never live without are:

Family, getting out of the office and walking in the woods, downtime, a challenge, variety. That’s all I need and as you can see no contradictions!

My favorite vacation destination is:

I don’t have one – I like variety.

The three books I would take to a deserted island are:

I think I’d forget the books and swap them for a boat!


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