Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Suresh Balaji, HSBC

Promoted to regional CMO after he first made this list a year ago, Balaji is working to futureproof the bank's marketing organisation.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Suresh Balaji, HSBC
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Suresh Balaji

Hong Kong
Member since 2020

In September last year, just months after launching a major brand campaign and being named to the 2020 edition of this list, Suresh Balaji was promoted to CMO for HSBC Asia Pacific, from his former role as regional head of marketing for wealth and personal banking, plus global head of marketing for insurance. In his expanded role, he now leads the marketing function across 18 markets and all lines of business and entities for HSBC in APAC.

Today, just over nine months into the new job, Balaji reports that he's completed a thorough marketing transformation programme to bring the company's various business lines and brand-marketing functions together. With the aims of futureproofing the marketing team while driving economies of scale and better leveraging its martech stack, Balaji believes this process has pumped up the bank's media and brand muscle across all business lines.

Balaji has also spearheaded a rollout of the Agile for Marketing methodology in order to meet speed-to-market demands, which he notes are paramount now. In addition, he's set up a marketing science unit and started a partnership with Google that aims to bring the company's creative, data, training and business capabilities to bear on specific marketing challenges.

In terms of marketing output, HSBC has just launched a brand programme surrounding a suite of new offerings for people and businesses operating across the Greater Bay Area. Balaji also presided over a campaign targeting Chinese students studying overseas, launched in April, which according to the company racked up 95 million overall views, including 7 million views of the campaign video. HSBC recently returned to live event sponsorship in APAC for the first time since the pandemic started with HSBC Women’s World Championship of golf in Singapore, where a hybrid digital and online approach allowed as many customers and clients as possible to take part in an exclusive event experience.

Balaji takes a special interest in making sure men are helping to advance gender equality. He founded the HSBC Male Allies Network in 2018 and is now co-chair of the Hong Kong Male Allies Leadership Council, an initiative that includes Swire, EY, PWC, KPMG, Blackrock, JP Morgan and other blue-chips. Balaji has also served as an advisory board member of the Shared Value Project in Hong Kong, the CMO Council, and the Ehrenberg Bass Institute at the University of South Australia. This year, he was a judge in the HSBC/HKU Asia Pacific Business Case Competition.

Prior to the more than 15 years he has spent with HSBC—which has taken him from Mumbai to Dubai to London en route to Hong Kong—Balaji held leadership roles in strategy, sales, product, media and advertising with GlaxoSmithKline, United Breweries, Contract India and Young & Rubicam.

You can find Suresh Balaji on Twitter at @sureshbalaji

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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