I was fortunate enough to spend ten months in Hong Kong with strategic communications firm Ryan Communication. The business at the time was part of our GCP Partnership but recently was bought by Teneo Holdings, the global CEO advisory firm.
My initial reasons for moving to this city were based on the fact that I have always wanted to live and work abroad, and Hong Kong, being an important financial hub with a different working culture, really appealed to me. For Lansons, it served as an ideal opportunity to strengthen relationships and to build on the work and opportunities that the team already had in place in the region. In this blog I share a few of the things I learnt out there.
Settling into any new job takes time and certainly any shorter a period in Asia would have been tough and unsatisfying. My Ryan colleagues made me feel immediately welcome and I very quickly found my feet and a position in client teams where I could add value. The city is incredibly fast-paced and that carries over into every aspect of life, including work.
Being a small firm, with young colleagues, and one of only six native English speakers, greater onus and accountability of client work was immediately felt. It was important to quickly adapt to the Asian ways and style of working. This included (for example) learning to be more direct and efficient, particularly when it came to conference calls which, with the majority of clients headquartered in the UK and US, often replaced face to face contact.
Similar to Lansons, the culture was very unique and special – a blend of lively and quiet natured individuals who had a strong work ethic. Client needs varied, and with a diverse range of skillsets and nationalities (Phillipino, Korean, Malay, Australian, European, Canadian, Chinese and Cantonese) the firm had the ability to execute integrated programmes in other Asian countries and cities, aside from where the firm’s three offices were based (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore).
Asia media landscape
- Whilst the Hong Kong and Singapore media is easier to navigate, mainland China has over 4000 media outlets!
- Chinese Government control and censorship over economic and political news is growing tighter.
- Similar to the UK, trade press is struggling and many are trying to reinvent themselves to stay competitive. Ownership and the backing of outlets are key to individual companies’ success. For example Alibaba taking over South China Morning Post.
- There is a huge trend towards digitalization and moving towards online. WeChat now has over 600million monthly users and acts as the key social and digital platform.
- The vast majority of contact with journalists is done via WhatsApp!
What topics are hot in the news?
- Outbound investment and capital controls
- Geopolitical risk – Trump, North Korea, China and to a lesser extent Europe and Brexit
- Regulatory advances – The SFC often take its lead from the UK
- Market initiatives including ‘One Belt One Road’, Bond Connect
- Fintech and cybersecurity
- Discounting its Asian neighbours, the biggest ex-pat community living in Hong Kong is the French.
- Hong Kong is not as urban as you might first think. It has vast areas of green space. Hiking in fact became one of my favorite weekend hobbies!
- Hong Kong has the most efficient “in-town check-in,” system. Travelers can check their luggage in at the central MTR (tube) station in town, up to 24 hours in advance, and then proceed to the airport bag-free.
- 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China from the UK.
- Ovens and baths are both a luxury; most Hong Kong flats do not have one!
My time spent there was invaluable and very rewarding and I return to the UK and Lansons, a more rounded, fulfilled and knowledgeable consultant. I also leave behind a great new group of friends that I know I will keep for life. It is impossible to summarise in such few words my experience, in particular how the two firms differ in terms of processes and approaches; it is for this reason that I will be holding smaller sharing sessions on specific topics over the coming weeks for my Lansons colleagues. I would like to thank Lansons and Ryan Communication for this opportunity and would highly recommend the city to anyone who has not been before.