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Singapore’s OCBC names first female CEO

OCBC CEO Helen Wong

Singapore: In an historic first Singapore’s second-largest lender, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), appointed Deputy President Helen Wong as group CEO, succeeding Samuel Tsien who is retiring after nearly nine years.

Ms Helen Wong is poised to become the first woman to head a Singapore bank and among the very few to lead an Asian bank. The appointment is effective April 15, OCBC said on Friday.

Ms Wong joined OCBC in February 2020 from HSBC where she ran the bank's Greater China operations, and her appointment brings her banking career full circle as she will now lead a bank where she started her banking career as a management trainee in 1984 in Singapore.

Wong's appointment comes as local banks are battling low interest rates and weak growth in pandemic-hit markets. Lenders are also soaking up bad loans as regulators prepare to ease conditions for billions of dollars in lending moratoriums

After decades of being largely underrepresented in leadership roles, in the banking sector, the number of female executives is finally beginning to improve. Last year September, Citigroup appointed Jane Fraser its next CEO, making her the first woman to lead a major Wall Street bank, this also followed the appointment of Alison Rose as CEO of Natwest Bank in the United Kingdom.

There is still a long way to go but appointments such as Ms Wong’s provide greater hope and inspiration to others.

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