Q&A: Road to the top requires leadership

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
 

What does it take to get to the top in business? There is no easy way to get to a leadership position. It requires hard work, interpersonal skills and the ability to be a good team player. That is what the head of any department will look for, so those are the fundamentals for building a career. You need to have a global outlook to know where your industry is heading in terms of technology and new ways of thinking. When you are doing well, be sure to help others as much as possible. They will remember and find a way to pay you back when times are tougher. To be an effective leader, you must also communicate your thoughts clearly and be genuine, not just pay lip service. People are not stupid, they can see what is going on in a company.

What shapes your major decisions and management style? As a senior executive, you need objectives with values behind them, and you can't afford to be emotional. I have three main values. Firstly, people must be able to work with anyone, while being consistently fair and allowing subordinates to use their creativity. Secondly, you don't have to invent everything; you should learn from others and find out what is going on around the world. Thirdly, you must understand that change is a constant, and it is better to lead change than follow it. The way I motivate is by constantly introducing the future and the need to prepare. For example, consider the convertibility of the renminbi. It may not happen tomorrow, but we know it is coming, so we must keep talking and thinking about it.

What are your views on developments in the mainland? To a certain extent, we need to manage our expectations in China by understanding the background and history. For years, the mainland was not interacting with the international market and its financial sector has only opened up in the past nine years. My view is that China is already moving quite rapidly in its financial reforms; any faster would create danger. Just like any other market, there are sure to be difficulties because practical experience is lacking. However, China is already doing quite well and it is important to understand how growth there is affecting trade with a lot of countries in Asia.

How can Hong Kong further capitalise on these changes? The Chinese government has recognised Hong Kong as a financial hub. Therefore, we should be ready to develop new financial products and encourage more investment, particularly by companies based in Southeast Asia. Hong Kong also needs more renminbi products and to increase the circulation of that currency, so the local financial market will gradually be able to merge with the larger mainland market.

What are your key principles for managing personnel? You must have the right person in the right job. For instance, if we are entering a new market, the set-up phase requires a certain kind of person, but a different type may be more suitable when things are well established. Also, you have to recognise how things are changing. Nowadays, staff want more training and opportunities; money is not necessarily the most important thing. In general, if Hong Kong is short of talent, it will cause a major problem. Therefore, companies should have an international perspective and be ready to recruit from the mainland and overseas.

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