An answer to a search
Written by Andrea Li
Daughter of toy inventor finds perfect position with Google thanks to her strong IT, media and telecoms track record
As a child, in a house filled with toys and dominated by a toy inventor for a father, Rebecca Kuei had every opportunity to let her imagination soar. It was a perfect environment for stimulating the mind and nurturing originality.
It is therefore no surprise that this habit of thinking boldly and differently has defined the life and career of Google's head of sales for Hong Kong and Taiwan.
If there is one thing about Ms Kuei, it is that she stands out. She likes to discover new things and generally stay ahead of the game.
'My father owned a toy business,' she recalled. 'He was always inventing new things. So when we were growing up, we not only had lots of things to play with, but we were also being inspired to be creative. I was being constantly stimulated to explore new and different things.'
While others take comfort in the known and the familiar, Ms Kuei likes to be adventurous. She referred to the different jobs she has had in a richly varied career.
'I have always preferred to join companies in their infancy, rather than status quo establishments,' she said. 'I feel I can bring much more incremental value to these operations and expand my horizons in the process.'
Google's liberal corporate environment is well suited to someone like Ms Kuei.
The senior executive joined Google late last year, at a time when it was establishing its marketing presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ms Kuei has played a big role in helping to set up the company's Asia base. She shuttles back and forth between Taiwan and Hong Kong, overseeing a sales team that promotes Google to businesses in the region.
Ms Kuei's day is spent forging business alliances with advertisers and telecommunications providers, portal operators and technology firms.
She is expert at translating Google into everyday language. Her mandate is to sell to advertisers the power and business potential of one of the world's biggest online answer machines.
'One of my strengths is the ability to articulate complex technology and explain it to the layman, while clarifying our vision to users and potential partners,' Ms Kuei said.
Google's proprietary technology automatically matches advertisements to webpages and webcontents, giving advertisers a cost-effective, measurable way of tracking their advertising dollars.
Google charges businesses according to the number of times users click on their advertisements, or the number of times the ads appear across the Google network.
'Our job is to help users anywhere in the world find any piece of information,' Ms Kuei said. 'Our aim is to organise all of the world's information, whether it is text, image or video. It is very exciting.
'It is important to have content, infrastructure and access. I view these three elements as the three pillars that enable the evolution of the internet experience.'
Google is a neat fit for Ms Kuei, embracing as it does the three areas in which she has gained experience and expertise over the years - IT, media and telecommunications.
'Looking back, I realise that Google offers the three components of my career that have equipped me for this job,' she said. 'Google is a media company because most of its revenue is from advertising. It is also as much about IT as it is about telecommunications, because it uses IT to deliver its content and telecommunications to make it accessible.'
Ms Kuei is a graduate of the National Taiwan University, where she obtained a degree in foreign languages and literature, specialising in English and German.
Her first job was as a sales representative at the Taiwanese publication Commonwealth, which she described as a fusion of Time and Fortune Magazine. Within 18 months, she was made head of the sales department.
'Media is a great industry to work in,' she said. 'It gives you a broad spectrum and access to all types of industries. And you get to be innovative and creative.'
A few years later, Ms Kuei headed to the United States as a Fulbright scholar to follow a two-year MBA programme at Stanford University. Stanford's proximity to Silicon Valley reinforced her interest in information technology.
In fact, Ms Kuei had long been fascinated by the world of IT, and the breathtaking way the 21st-century technology was evolving. Her interest was such that when she graduated in 1992, she signed on as a product manager with Microsoft in Taiwan.
Her job involved marketing Word and Windows programmes, overseeing the branding, packaging and positioning of Microsoft products and tailoring them for users, and later, as a senior business manager, developing business strategies to promote MSN and Internet Explorer.
After eight years at Microsoft, Ms Kuei took her marketing expertise into the telecommunications world when she became head of international product marketing at Handspring, a California-based manufacturer of portal devices, including PDAs and smart phones.
At Handspring, she was responsible for international product strategy and product localisation and internationalisation, working with engineers to launch products for markets outside the US.
Her marketing skills were further honed when she took up a job as special assistant to the chief executive of telecommunications service provider Taiwan Cellular, where she helped launch a pre-paid service customised for mobile users and children.
All of this is worlds removed from the glamorous career Ms Kuei once imagined for herself.
'I had always wanted to be a diplomat, because I love to travel, make friends and interact with people,' she said.
But that dream ended when Ms Kuei saw the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, with its revelations of the true nature of the diplomatic world.
'That movie put things into perspective for me,' she said. 'I saw that being a diplomat wasn't all that glamorous, so at university I changed my focus to sales and marketing, an area that's very people-oriented and full of creativity.'
Ms Kuei is a strong believer in enriching the community through dedication and commitment in one's work.
In fact, she wants to do more for the community, a sentiment shared by her present employer.
'You can do well in business and in the world,' she said. 'The two can go hand in hand.'
Always pushing the envelope and breaking out of the status quo mould
Bringing greater value to growing companies
Translating techno talk into laymen's language
Career supported by the three pillars of IT, media, telecommunications
Strong desire to keep contributing to the community
HK$50,000 to HK$150,000
10 to 15 years
Regional sales manager
HK$40,000 to HK$70,000
HK$22,000 to HK$50,000
Seven to eight years
Senior sales executive
HK$15,000 to HK$30,000
Five to seven years
HK$12,000 to HK$25,000
Two to four years
Junior sales executive
HK$8,000 to HK$15,000