[Poman Lo, Class of 1996] Regal Hotels group heiress POMAN LO says running a business may be challenging but there are many opportunities for those who dare to dream. Growing up in her father Lo Yuk-sui's bricks-and-mortar hotel empire, the young entrepreneur has ventured into the creative and online business world. She tells Eddie Lee that she wants to instil positive values in the next generation, adding that Hongkongers have to maintain a cosmopolitan image to stay ahead. Can you tell us about your experience in running a business? It has been a challenge. I grew up in the hotel real estate family business. So to me, running a hotel is sort of like in my blood because I grew up here, right? But you know in this TMT [technology, media and telecommunications] space, everything is changing. The technology is changing. Consumer behaviour, technology trends, everything is changing day by day. So we call it "flexible focus". On the one hand you can't be shifting your focus all the time. On the other hand, you have to be adjusting your strategy, almost on a daily or weekly basis by looking at how your current strategy is, whether it is giving the sort of result that you have in mind. You were a top student. Do you think running a business is a lot different from what you did as a student? For sure. When you are at school, or anything that involves just individual efforts, it is very different, because everything is within your control. Basically, everything is predictable. But then in the business world, there are many elements. So you have to work as a team. Also, as the Chinese say, "the favourable climate and geographical position and support of the people" is critical, and then there are external factors that you also have to account for. There is also the element of luck, timing and environmental factors. You have an enviable background. But you still think running a business is difficult in Hong Kong. How can other youngsters without a good background succeed in running a business? If you look at the United States or anywhere else, or more developed economies, there are still many opportunities for those who are willing to try, for those who dare to dream. So if you look at a lot of the most successful billionaires in the US, they are rather young. They all think out of the box and they all start with the idea that nothing is impossible if you are willing to try. But if you don't try, then obviously you won't succeed. Of course, that involves a lot of hard work, also an element of luck. But I think actually Hong Kong people do still possess a very unique advantage in that we are a good bridge between the East and the West, and also our exposure means we have grown up in an environment where we have free access to YouTube and any internet websites in the world. We can access all sorts of knowledge. So it's a matter of wanting to learn or not. There is hardly anything that you can't learn if you put your mind to it. But then of course Hong Kong people might feel like the mainland China market is much bigger. It seems like there are some cultural differences that are difficult to be bridged. And yet if we are willing to immerse ourselves in that culture, then we will have the best of both worlds. Do you still consider Hong Kong a good place for young people like you to start a business? We are lagging behind in many aspects. For example, Singapore has made many great efforts to boost its tourism industry, with very aggressive developments. In Hong Kong, there is this fear of initiating changes when there is even the slightest voice of disagreement. You don't dare to do something when just a small minority opposes it. Then you can't do anything. I think Hong Kong to a certain degree is suffering in that respect. In terms of talent, recruitment, a lot of places, such as Taiwan, Singapore, are actively, aggressively recruiting talent, whereas Hong Kong makes it very difficult for people to come because we are so fearful of competition. Actually competition is what drives improvement. In the whole of China, you have some very top talent because there is competition. And now in Hong Kong, costs are very high. Our real estate costs are high because of construction. There is a shortage of labour. How can you ever make housing affordable when your basic costs are so high? Do you think some Hong Kong people have an attitude problem? No, it's not Hong Kong people's attitude. It's more the system. For example, Hong Kong is supposed to be a free economy. But it's probably the only place in the world that is imposing this stamp duty on people who want to buy for Chinese owners. So this is not a free economy ... there is a small minority of Hong Kong people who think that our public facilities are sort of affected by mainlanders. But there are many ways to improve that, rather than just going out to protest. It is because ultimately tourism is one of the ways to absorb money from outside. As one of the key pillars of Hong Kong's economy, it's not just travel - leisure tourists but also business travellers, or people wanting to work in Hong Kong. So we have to maintain that sort of peaceful cosmopolitan image that we have had for so many years. What can Hong Kong people do to change that? I think it's good to voice out our beliefs, our views and our frustrations. I would say actually most people are rational. There is just a very small minority that is sort of making the headline news and that is really affecting inbound travel and our image as an international safe city to visit or to do business. Are you particularly worried about the anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong? I guess it is not just anti-mainland. I think any country should not be anti any sort of people, right? We are a global city. Why should we block off people who want to come and support Hong Kong's economy - buying things from our retail shops, staying at our hotels or going to our attractions? That's the way Hong Kong has always been. And that's why we are successful. So why change that? Should politicians or policy-makers do something to change people's attitude towards mainland China? No, I don't think so ... Hong Kong is a free economy, a free market. Everyone has their own right to think and express their views. How do you view the development of the creative industry in Hong Kong? Unfortunately the creative industry in Hong Kong, I would say, is going in the other direction, whereas the mainland Chinese creative industry is blossoming. When I was a kid, there were over 100 films produced every year. Now there are very few. This is quite sad. Obviously, online platforms have had an impact. But there are still a lot of opportunities if the government can be more active in promoting cultural innovation or any sort of innovation. Hong Kong obviously is no longer a manufacturing base. So we should really be exerting more effort in encouraging creative entrepreneurialism. That's what sets us apart. Our young people have global exposure. Our minds are capable of creating anything. Hong Kong as a city can really devote more effort and incubate more ideas. You created the Bodhi and Friends cartoon characters. They started as comic strips and books and you donated the royalties to the Po Leung Kuk, a charity service provider. Why did you turn the project into a commercial venture? I decided to turn Bodhi and Friends into a commercial venture around three years ago and established Century Innovative Technology in Shenzhen. The reason is that animation is expensive. In order to achieve my mission, which is to inspire multiple intelligence and positive values in children via interactive media and smart toys, we had to make it a commercial venture so that we could continue to do it. We started with the creation of a 3D television animated series called Bodhi and Friends: Space Squad . And we aired on CCTV on the mainland last year during Lunar New Year - 6pm prime time. Would you say the venture is a success? I would say it has proven its appeal to kids. We are creating an education brand that is built to last for generations. So we are not eyeing short-term profit. Do you have any plans to expand the Bodhi and Friends brand? We are now building our online platform for Bodhi World, which is a professionally curated platform to access and share the world's best educational content and offerings. Do you think online technology will transform every type of business in Hong Kong? Ultimately it is how the online elements are integrated. That's the winning strategy. We can't all live online. And yet online is so critical that no one is able to live a day without using his mobile phone. So every business must embrace those strategies that will help maintain its offline business leadership. It can also open up a lot of other business opportunities. I think in the internet age, a lot of brands are built at internet speed. So because of all the viral sharing, because information, unlike before, can be accessed in real time all around the world, everything is accelerated. It also makes a lot of opportunities more equal. In the past you might have to spend tons to make a film. These days there are YouTube enthusiasts who make a film with just an iPhone. And they can achieve millions of hits. So every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed and reach an audience online. Are there still things we can learn from our predecessors in running a business? A lot of the building blocks of success are the same. It is just that the methodology may be a little different. What have you learned from your father and uncles, who are all successful businessmen in Hong Kong? For example, in building your team, it's still about people. It's always the number one factor in any business. You can't run a business with artificial intelligence, robots. You still need people to control that, and also pay attention to details. Also your business strategy - how you set it - matters. AN ENTREPRENEUR, CREATOR, PRODUCER AND PHILANTHROPIST Poman Lo, daughter of Hong Kong hotel tycoon Lo Yuk-sui, adds breadth and colour to the Lo's business empire in a variety of ways. She is an entrepreneur, creator, producer and philanthropist. While acknowledging she has her father's strong backing, the 36-year-old has shown she is also a firm believer in hard work and striking out on one's own. As a student, she was given the Hong Kong Outstanding Student award by Junior Chamber International in 1993. She won the Angier B. Duke Scholarship at 15, and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Duke University in the United States four years later. In her view, joining the family business she is so familiar with is far from the easy way out people think it is. Yet she chose an even harder path. Apart from holding top posts at several listed companies controlled by the family, including Century City International and Regal Hotels International, she is also founder and chief executive officer of Century Innovative Technology, which launched the award winning 3D animation series Bodhi and Friends . While managing the family-owned hotel chain, the young executive has put a lot of effort into the budding multi-media company, with a view to capturing a growing share of the increasingly competitive education market on the mainland. She is used to juggling multiple tasks. She is active in charity and community work and has worked with various organisations including Oxfam, the Hong Kong committee of the United Nations Children's Fund and Doctor Pet. Last year, she was named one of the Outstanding Young Persons of the World by Junior Chamber International. She was honoured with the Oslo Business for Peace Award by the Business for Peace Foundation in Norway in May this year.