Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 10, HSBC's Katia Bouazza

Register now

Head of Global Banking, Latin America, HSBC

Katia Bouazza learned at a young age the drive that success demands.

She arrived in the United States as one of three girls in a family that emigrated from Lebanon, which was then mired in civil war. Bouazza did not speak much English. And she was not a boy.

"My dad really wanted a son, so he raised me like a boy," said Bouazza, who heads global banking in Latin America for HSBC. "I've taken martial arts. I like to drive fast cars and go to soccer games. That gave me a lot of characteristics that ended up being useful in a male-dominated world."
One in particular is a willingness to tackle challenges head-on. She urges women she mentors not to let doubt hold them back either. And she draws on her early experiences in boardrooms full of men to offer these younger women encouragement.

"You're not born being courageous," Bouazza tells them. "The first time I walked into that room, I was intimidated, but you train that muscle. It's something you develop over time."

See the most recent rankings:
· Most Powerful Women in Banking
· Women to Watch
· Most Powerful Women in Finance

"Confidence is only half the battle, though. It does not replace the fact that women are more closely scrutinized than our male counterparts, so you have to be very good at what you do," Bouazza quickly adds.

Beyond offering advice, she has helped put other women in prominent roles. She recruited Ines Vargas, a senior banker previously at Citigroup, to lead HSBC's investment banking business in Monterrey, Mexico, and championed the appointment of Monica Duwe as chief executive of HSBC Chile.

Women mentored and promoted by Bouazza also include the heads of HSBC's loan syndications, transaction management and corporate debt capital markets units.

Bouazza herself also has a new title. When HSBC announced 16 appointments amid changes to top management in April, Bouazza, who previously co-led the bank's Latin American business, was the lone woman selected.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.