In conversation with Mr. Kevin Sneader, co-president of Goldman Sachs Asia, the fellows discussed what it takes to sail the proverbial ship through high waters - what does it take to lead by courage, discipline, and passion?
Having previously held the position of Global Managing Partner at McKinsey Company, Kevin recounted his 32-year journey with the renowned firm. He shared anecdotes on a variety of topics, such as his leap-of-faith decision to migrate halfway across the world to spearhead McKinsey's then-emerging China office, to more light-hearted stories such as how his team was once mistaken for a group of fertility consultants. More candidly, he also shared on the importance of relationships as the anchors in one's life and the necessity of pursuing interests unrelated to work.
On what makes a good leader, he told fellows that what's most important is to "have a set of principles that you won't comprise on". And that the most revered leaders are those who empower and lead through others, who surround themselves with people different from them, and who aren't afraid to simply say "l don't know" and defer to the expertise of their teams.
As the dialogue progressed, the conversation shifted closer to home with a frank discussion on Hong Kong's future as not just a premier global financial hub, but as a facilitator of economic prosperity across the entirety of APAC. "The HK story" as it was endearingly referred to, is something that is innately woven into the fabric of the cities people, culture, and history.
However, he also noted that as the metaphorical chapters of this unique HK story are being written, there are pivotal challenges that need to be addressed. The "disparity of economic opportunity vs the disparity of economics" / the phenomenon of decreasing social mobility is an issue of inequality that we should remain diligent on. One thing that persisted throughout the entire conversation, was the endless optimism in which Kevin framed his perspectives. As he put it, "Pessimism doesn't get anywhere". With the perilous state of current geopolitics, this message of enduring optimism is pertinent now more than ever.