Co-Head of Global Banking, Latin America, HSBC

Katia Bouazza prides herself on knowing when it’s time to mess with a good thing.

As HSBC’s head of global corporate banking, investment banking and capital financing for Latin America, Bouazza is all about change, even when others may not have seen the need for it yet.

“I don’t subscribe to the adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” she said. “Too often, that’s an excuse to maintain the status quo. I’ve learned that a key ingredient of success as a leader is to focus on both the short term and the long term. While managers focus on the problems right in front of them, to be a leader you must be able to see around corners.”

That’s one of the reasons why, when Bouazza took over HSBC’s operations in Latin America, she decided that it was time to “shake up” its leadership in key business lines and implement significant changes in governance.

“It was a decision based not on addressing an immediate need, because in fact our Latin America business is well positioned, and has successfully served our clients through a politically turbulent period in the region,” she said. “I did it to ensure we stay strong in the years ahead, and to be positioned to respond to future market challenges.”

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One of the leadership changes under Bouazza is particularly notable. She advocated for Monica Duwe to become CEO of HSBC Chile — and, with that appointment, made her the first woman to run a major bank in that country’s history.

Bouazza also was instrumental in gaining market acceptance for a first-of-its-kind emerging market green bond issued by the Mexico City Airport. With HSBC acting as the sole green structuring adviser, the deal made history on multiple fronts. It was the largest green bond to date from a Latin American issuer, the first green bond used to fund an airport’s construction and the first green bond from an emerging market issuer to earn Moody’s Green Bond Assessment grade.

“Leaders need to be able navigate challenges and changing times — for themselves but also for their teams and for their clients,” Bouazza said.

Rob Garver

Rob Garver has been covering the intersection of public policy and the private sector for more than 20 years.