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Global vision is crucial for firm

John Cremer

Whatever your sector, there is nothing easy about taking a Hong Kong-based company into major overseas markets and creating a global profile.

There are, though, a few key steps that anyone looking to emulate the success of Andrew Kwok, senior vice-president for international business at Hutchison Global Communications, would do well to consider.

'Based on my experience, certain things have helped us develop new markets for a range of fixed-line and mobile services,' says Kwok, a 30-year veteran of the telecom industry and winner of this year's International Award. 'Of course, you must customise in each country and act locally in your day-to-day work when dealing with taxation, regulations and legal requirements. But you should also make full use of Hong Kong's geographical advantage and traditional strengths.'

Among these, he naturally includes the China connection plus the city's reputation for high standards and getting business done. He cautions, though, that it takes more than the tried and tested to make a bigger impact in today's global environment.

'We have to maintain and enhance the belief in ocean economics,' says Kwok, referring to the importance of being involved in business within and between other regions, not always making Hong Kong the hub. 'And with more than 30 nationalities in our division, we see the importance of diversity.'

Also vital, with competition so tough, is the need to remember, or even rekindle, Hong Kong's entrepreneurial spirit. Kwok sometimes senses that the younger generation perhaps take a little too much for granted. They may not fully appreciate how much drive, determination and sheer hard work it takes to make any business fly, never mind one whose operations and revenue sources are mainly overseas.

'Like the previous generations who built Hong Kong, people must create momentum and have the urge to succeed,' says Kwok, who in the past nine years has overseen expansion in Asia, the Americas and the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. 'You have to move fast and adapt fast, and you can't just wait for success to come to you.'

Besides maintaining the push for profits and greater geographical reach, Kwok also has to keep a close eye on issues such as deregulation and developments brought by new technology. He feels sure more data will be transferred via telecom networks with the expected growth of scanner-style near-field communication mobile applications and the advance of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

'For example, M2M might allow manufacturers to track your car and stop it functioning if it was stolen,' he says. 'Telecoms will affect our day-to-day lives in many more ways, but only the most adaptive companies will survive.'