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The 2013 Tech 50: Sean O’Sullivan

HSBC Technology and Services wants to 'reduce complexities' and enhance and standardize customer interaction, says the company's COO.

Sean O’Sullivan
Chief Operating Officer
HSBC Holdings
Last year: 17

When a company as sprawling as HSBC Holdings, with $2.7 trillion in assets and 6,600 offices around the world, moves to refocus its strategy on fewer core markets and realign its cost structure accordingly, much of the responsibility falls on operations and technology — in this case HSBC Technology and Services (HTS). The London-based bank is in the midst of a three-year restructuring, and the results so far reflect well on HTS, and on Sean O’Sullivan in his dual role as COO and chief technology services officer. First-quarter pretax profit jumped 95 percent year-over-year, to $8.4 billion, thanks in part to a 2 percent decline in underlying operating expenses and $400 million in newly achieved “sustainable cost savings,” HSBC announced in May.  The company has sold or closed 52 businesses since 2011, and total employees declined over the past year to 260,000 from 300,000. COO since August 2011, CTSO since January 2011 and CTSO for the U.K. for three years before that, O’Sullivan has reduced his technology head count to 80,000 from 90,000 a year ago. But for O’Sullivan, 57, it’s not all about cutting. HTS wants to “reduce complexities” and enhance and standardize customer interaction, he says, “making it easier to do business with the group” while “ensuring compliance with global banking regulations.”

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