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Now hiring: Hong Kong’s next-gen CEOs need to make crucial changes to maintain the city’s competitive edge

Published on Saturday, 18 Jul 2015
Now hiring: Hong Kong’s next-gen CEOs need to make crucial changes to maintain the city’s competitive edge

My job is to help find and develop leaders, so it’s not unusual to be asked to look for a new CEO. This week, however, I was called in by the chairman of a listed company with a search request that was groundbreaking.

The company has been struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change in its industry – and risked being overtaken by disrupters and losing touch with its customers. So the board resolved to do something radical: hire a new, young CEO whose ability to innovate would matter more than industry experience or familiarity with the Hong Kong market. 

As the chairman told me, the company was willing to bet on young leaders from much smaller organisations – provided the person had an extraordinary ability to learn, entrepreneurial drive and digital capabilities. To be frank, Hong Kong is not a tech hub and I told him that he might have to look further afield for the ideal candidate; mainland China has been much more ready than “old economy” Hong Kong to champion young innovators and entrepreneurs. He didn’t blink.

This could be a watershed moment for Hong Kong – when the territory’s most senior business leaders are willing to challenge convention and accelerate the progression of the next generation. It reflects the global trend of companies hiring industry outsiders for top roles. 

If Hong Kong companies are to be global leaders, they will need executive teams to harness technology and engage employees to deliver great customer experience. Our future competitiveness depends on unleashing a new generation of leaders who can tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of our people.


This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Hire young leaders.

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