Most people who build a successful business from the ground up and sell it to their industry’s biggest international player for a tidy sum of cash would probably call it a day and retire to some tropical island, sipping cocktails and enjoying beautiful sunsets until the end of time.
Not so for Janet Yeung, general manager at Mind Resource Ogilvy – a unit of WPP, one of the world’s largest communications service groups. She has set her sights on establishing the largest PR agency specialising in the health-care sector in the Asia-Pacific region – and eventually around the world – and she believes that the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA Program will help her achieve this goal.
From her beginnings in charge of PR and fundraising for the University of Hong Kong’s faculty of medicine – a tenure in which she oversaw the handling of the high-profile Sars epidemic, as well as the controversial HK$1 billion donation by tycoon Li Ka-shing – she built a successful PR agency specialising in the health-care sector in Hong Kong. In 2011, she was approached by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, a global communications provider and part of WPP, which eventually acquired a majority stake in her business.
Nowadays, as general manager of Mind Resource Ogilvy, Yeung is in charge of around 35 staff in Hong Kong, overseeing the highly specialised field of health-care communications which includes disease awareness, patient education and medical education. The company represents some of the top multinational pharmaceutical companies, medical associations, service providers and professionals in Hong Kong.
Because of her background as a self-made entrepreneur, Yeung is mindful that a grounding in functional knowledge would be especially critical going forwards. This is because achieving her goal of building the largest PR agency specialising in health-care in the region will require trying her hand at mergers and acquisitions in the short and medium term – this time on the buying end.
“I want to be a more successful businesswoman,” she says. “I do business by my guts, and when you do that, sometimes you can run into a lot of uncertainties. When you build a company, everything is easy because all you have to do is manage your own P&L. But when you merge into a larger organisation, especially one which is financially driven, there are lots of different kinds of financial reporting, and the figures can just drive you crazy,” she says.
She adds that post-merger companies also face challenges in integrating their different ways of doing things, as well as their respective staff.
To help her better understand the dynamics behind successful corporate mergers, Yeung says she is particularly looking forward to topics related to strategic management, mergers and acquisitions, and organisational behaviour. In addition, she also looks forward to the opportunity to network with fellow programme participants to gain business contacts in the region and around the world, as well as to share experiences with fellow managers.
“My expectation is that I hope to learn in an intellectually stimulating environment,” Yeung says. “We encounter many problems in managing businesses day to day, and when you are at the top, there’s no one for you to discuss these problems with and you can feel alone. That’s why I look forward to being among a class of my peers and being able to talk among ourselves to try to get some insights into solving problems that we encounter at work.”