InvestHK seeks those who want to boost city
Hong Kong has been the mainland’s gateway to global markets since the 1980s, but this status is being threatened by the rapid development of other Chinese cities. To maintain Hong Kong as a prime investment destination, government department InvestHK is promoting its business advantages to overseas and mainland investors and helping foreign businesses set up or expand in the city.
“Our staff need to meet with a broad range of business people from all corners of the world and are engaged in a variety of investment promotion, account management and marketing activities,” says Simon Galpin, InvestHK director general of investment promotion. “They need to have private sector experience, which enables them to better understand their clients’ businesses.”
The department has about 100 staff in Hong Kong and representatives in 28 locations worldwide. This includes 15 investment promotion units (IPUs) in key economic and trade locations around the world, and 13 overseas consultants in locations not covered by the IPUs. “Overseas colleagues are the first stage of the pipeline, identifying and meeting with companies that are planning to expand in Asia,” Galpin says. “After identifying the companies, they work closely with colleagues in Hong Kong, ensuring that clients enjoy consistent and expert help at every stage of their setting-up journey.”
To promote Hong Kong as an investment destination, InvestHK stages advertising campaigns in key target markets and produces a range of print, digital and video marketing materials. It also organises seminars, including joint promotions with mainland cities, in major cities in the US, Europe and emerging markets.
“The marketing team organises business networking events in Hong Kong that help existing clients build business connections and expand [here]. It works closely with sector teams in ensuring overseas and local promotion activities are properly targeted so they generate leads and prospects. There is a current pipeline of several hundred companies that are being followed up, many of which came from these marketing activities,” Galpin says.
“Another big part of the work is to keep in touch with all major consulates and business chambers in Hong Kong as they often refer companies to us for help. Our international operations team does just that, liaising with chambers and consulates on a regular as well as project basis.”
The diverse and dynamic nature of InvestHK’s responsibilities provides a unique opportunity for people who want a part in the development of the city’s economy. “We welcome people who are looking for the international exposure that the department offers, plus the chance to contribute to Hong Kong by promoting the city to the global business community,” Galpin says.
Simon Tsang Man-lung joined InvestHK at its inception in 2000 having previously worked in the then Industry Department. As head of the innovation and technology (I&T) sector team, he says he continues to be fascinated by his work at InvestHK.
“I am still learning new things every day about the innovation and technology sector,” he says. “It is changing so quickly and Hong Kong is an important I&T hub in the region. Many overseas and mainland companies are looking to set up or expand in Hong Kong. I am thrilled about having the chance to help investors from around the world, while also picking up new knowledge. It’s a daily learning experience, and challenging too in terms of helping clients to solve different problems,” he says.
“It feels great when you see the companies you help keep growing and those not doing so well in the beginning picking up. It’s like bringing up your children and the job allows me to contribute to Hong Kong.”
Henry Fan Cheuk-fo, one of the younger members of staff, joined in 2012 as an investment promotion assistant after graduating with a business degree from HKUST.
“The working environment here is dynamic and international,” he says. “Basically, what I’m doing is to market Hong Kong and its advantages to the rest of the world. I can apply my marketing knowledge and experience in a global context.”
Fan was extensively involved in the department’s StartmeupHK Venture Programme, a global competition for start-ups looking to expand their businesses in Hong Kong, which launched in 2013 last year. “We focused our marketing efforts on different social media platforms to reach start-ups and entrepreneurs from around the world,” he says. “We worked on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google AdWords. It was a great success – in three months we received 384 entries from start-ups companies from 39 cities and economies. It was a big success for our first social media marketing and I learnt a lot.”
At the grand final of the contest, Fan and the entire marketing division worked closely with local and overseas colleagues, clients and other external parties to develop marketing plans and event management programmes. The competition ended with a forum at the Tamar Conference Hall, where the 12 finalists pitched their business proposals to a panel of top judges and an audience of more than 500 entrepreneurs and potential investors.
“It was a fun, energetic event, but at the same time also a serious one, with hardcore business ideas pitched by start-ups,” Fan says. “The fun part for me was controlling the music and mingling with the audience to hear about their success stories. I really enjoyed organising the event.