Inwha Huh: A day in the life of a global market leader

Inwha Huh is the Executive Vice Presdient and Regional Head of Global Trade and Finance at HSBC. This is the day in the life of a global market leader.

What am I working on: I’ve spent the last 15 years building and growing the trade finance businesses in some of the largest and most admired global institutions delivering global financial solutions for multinational clients.

Today I woke up at 6am.

The first thing I did was wake up the kids – always great to see their faces before starting the day. Coffee is typically ready – brewed by my husband, who is always up before me. 

My morning ritual starts with coffee, reviewing today’s headlines on the WSJ app, and breakfast bars and checking my email. Before I start the day, which is typically full of meetings I scan emails to ensure I respond to any urgent matters.

I started working at 7am today, on our global business video call where we reviewed strategic updates in each region around the world. 

My biggest challenge is having a long commute. It’s great for emails and reading or listening to podcasts, but can be too long.

What I love most about my work is helping our clients seize opportunities to trade with or expand into new markets and grow globally, while also having the privilege of meeting fascinating people. I recently hosted a webcast about the trends in global trade, which is at a pivotal point given the fast pace of technology, global trade slowdown, and complexity of corporate supply chains.

My favorite part of the day was when we hosted Mary Ellen Iskedarian, CEO of Women’s World Banking. She spoke about the amazing work she is doing to empower women in the poorest parts of the world using digital technologies.

Least favorite... I can’t stand long meetings where no decisions are made. It can be frustrating to leave a long meeting with no clear actions.

I wish I had more time.

Something that surprised me was the lack of progress that’s been made for women in c-suite or leadership roles. One of my goals as a leader is to help young women build the confidence to develop into who they want to become. At HSBC, we recently started a group called “Inspire” to help women connect, grow and inspire each other. It’s one of a number of ways HSBC is working to support women leaders.    

I want to recognize Lisa Aristippo, my assistant, for organizing the craziness into a structured day. She keeps me on time and in line, so I can stay focused on helping our clients grow.

For lunch, I eat in between meetings, usually something from Maison Kaiser or whatever Lisa has picked up for us. Or I have client lunch meetings in any of the great spots in NYC, or whichever city I may be traveling to.

A personal activity I do just for myself is yoga, and massage at Massage Envy. I have neck issues so it is essential.

How much did you sleep? 6 hours – which is less than I’d like!  Ideally it would be 9 hours but who has the time.

I most enjoy spending time with our children. Nothing beats being outdoors biking, swimming, kayaking, or laughing with the kids.

For dinner – every day is different. Tonight we had Korean curry which is a favorite comfort food for the family. Events and business dinners are part of what I do, but I try to limit them to twice a week, max.

Today I felt happy and frustrated. Happy that a key client has decided to use our trade financing solutions, including our supply chain solution. I’m frustrated that systems can’t always be perfect.

My favorite technology that I used today is the Vango Art app. You can find all kinds of art by unknown and upcoming artists.

I am inspired by anyone, in particular children or girls, who are not afraid to lead and be the change agent. My family sponsors girls in the Philippines through Save the Children, where I seek to give them hope. 

Did you meditate? Did you exercise? I listened to Reiki music – a great way to close down and meditate when stress creeps up.

One strategy I use to make my time more effective is prioritize! Taking a step back to determine what will bring the most value to the business can save a great deal of wasted time. Minimizing unnecessary meetings is key at any large organization.

I am passionate about supporting women and children in emerging markets. A great organization is Women for Women International, where support is provided to women in marginalized and war torn communities.  At HSBC, we are also committed to giving back to our communities through sustainability programs all over the world.

Something I wanted to get done but didn’t get to do was living in more than four countries myself, and providing opportunities for our children to live outside the US.

A dream I am currently focused on fulfilling is changing the world. Everything we do is so that our children’s generation will have better lives.

I can’t live without our kids, iced tea, iced coffee… and sushi!

Inwha Huh is Executive Vice President, Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance, North America, for HSBC Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC), one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations. In this role, she is responsible for leading and managing GTRF business across Commercial and Global Banking clients.

With more than 20 years of experience in the trade finance market, Inwha joined HSBC from GE Capital, where she was head of global business development and capital markets of working capital solutions. Prior to that, she was head of structured trade finance and distribution-Americas at Deutsche Bank. She has also held a variety of roles in syndicated loans and trade finance in the U.S., UK and Asia.

Inwha holds an MBA in International Finance from American University, attended Clark University and Columbia University School of International Public Affairs.  She has served as a board member on the Association of Trade, Financial Women’s Association, Women on Wall Street, GE Women’s Network and Friends International.

Inwha has 2 children, Shira and Max, and resides in Westport, Connecticut.

Inwha Huh is EVP and Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance, North America at HSBC. She inspires women every day to perform our best. She is known for building and empowering.

She can be found online at:

The Future of Trade - on-demand webinar