• Thu
  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Updated: 11:24am
Mr. Shangkong
PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 5:19am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 8:04am

No matter the trials of living in Hong Kong, dream big and do it

Politics aside, the city faces many challenges in business but there are a few who step outside their comfort zone to try to make a difference

BIO

George Chen is the financial editor and columnist at the South China Morning Post. George has covered China's financial industry and economic reforms since 2002. George is the author of Foreign Banks in China. He muses about the interplay between Shanghai and Hong Kong in Mr. Shangkong columns every Monday in print and online. Follow George on Twitter: @george_chen
 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …"

That’s what Charles Dickens wrote about the French Revolution and some people say today’s Hong Kong is more or less in this kind of situation.

On politics, we can write tens of thousands of words in a doctoral thesis to argue whether Hong Kong is now in the best or worst times. Put politics aside, and Hong Kong also faces many challenges in the field of business.

Hong Kong is not a political centre for the rest of the world. CNN only put Hong Kong on its top news list when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was here. But Hong Kong has been a business centre, especially for the financial industry, for Asia and the whole world for decades.

On the other hand, perhaps because our financial industry is so well developed already, the question whether Hong Kong is in the best or worst times for business is related to whether we rely too much on the financial industry; and real estate of course, since land prices in any global financial centre won’t be cheap. 

Let me tell you a story about two young entrepreneurs whom I will call H and E. I met H and E last year. They e-mailed me and said they liked my columns and wanted my advice on a project they were planning to launch at that time.

We went out for coffee and they told me they were doing a new social media application, which would help Hong Kong people quickly find their friends in Lan Kwai Fong for drinks on a Friday evening after work; or enable several old and new friends to plan a hiking event almost at the 11th hour.

Apart from the project itself, I was very interested in the two young men’s career backgrounds. H used to work for Goldman Sachs as a junior investment banker in Hong Kong; and E was a consultant at McKinsey in the city.

Both had decent jobs and thereby good salaries; so if they continued down their traditional corporate career paths, they could make themselves senior executives at the two firms some day. But instead they are trying to make a difference because they believed it was “the best of times” for young people to take advantage of new technology to realise their own business ambitions.

Indeed, things like iPhone “apps” cost a lot less than starting a garment factory like many Hong Kong people did in the 1960s amid the city’s manufacturing boom. But for those who believe it is “the worst of times” to start your own business the problem begins with various complaints from high rents to rising competition from the north, and very few of them even want to try.

I was at the Hong Kong Business Award 2013 ceremony on Friday evening. One of the winners, who was definitely not a second-generation of a rich family, moved to Hong Kong many years ago and struggled to start his own business. He said the key to success in Hong Kong was all about “you get a great idea, work hard, and dream big”.

When I heard this I thought of H and E. I wish them the best of luck. Even if their project doesn’t take off, they have made a priceless decision because by having a try they make a huge difference in the debate over the best or worst of times.

George Chen is the Post’s financial services editor. Mr. Shangkong appears every Monday in the print version of the SCMP. Like it? Visit facebook.com/mrshangkong.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

4

This article is now closed to comments

nmp_inc
HK may not be the "political center" but its protests, political environment and relationship with the mainland is often the subject of the world's leading papers and no few periodic government reports and United Nations reports. To think otherwise shows how out of touch the author is - which is already suggested by his glee over an ol' so yesterday social media notion app.
CatInAFlap
What a load of old, hackneyed, badly-written claptrap. A six-year-old could have written this.
mercedes2233
If their project doesn't take off, they would regret having given up their promising careers. It is OK to have big ambitions, but one should still be realistic and practical about the chances of success.
wwong888
spoken like a true sheep... baah baah... i guess like your name suggests, we should all just be good little sheep and aspire to a practical middle class life where we can own a bottom of the line mercedes on installment plan and try to be happy with our lives
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or