He’s proud to say that he is Portuguese, gay, short and bald – and he is now the CEO of one of the world’s largest banks. Taking the helm at HSBC in September, António Simões has never made any bones about his sexuality, affirming that “if I wasn’t gay, I probably wouldn’t be CEO of the bank”.
Being gay has been a plus for him, he adds. “It made me a more authentic person, with better empathy, better emotional intelligence”.
Considering the financial messes created by Portuguese bankers in the last year alone, it could be said that emotional intelligence is a rare commodity. Certainly HSBC bosses seem to think so. The bank has been right behind Simões since he joined in 2007 – promoting him only two years ago to the post of president of the bank in UK.
According to a recent article in Público, Simões’ CV is comparable to that of very few other nationals. He is a young global leader of the World Economic Forum – the NGO that meets once a year in Davos to debate world affairs; and he has been considered the most “influential gay in business” by the OUTstanding network, as published in the Financial Times.
Married to a Spaniard, Tomás, he has worked throughout the world and clearly has a great sense of humour.
Talking to journalist Anabela Mota Ribeiro not long ago, he compared Hong Kong to the Algarve’s “jewel” on the west coast, Aljezur.
“Despite Hong Kong being very cosmopolitan and diverse, it’s a small town. It may seem like New York or London, but really it is just like Aljezur”.