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Spring/ 2018






his year of the Dog started beautifully with the success of the 2nd edition of our International Women’s Day conference, in support of the HeForShe global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2014.


We joined forces with the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited this year to raise awareness among Hong Kong’s business community, and we were honoured to welcome Acting Chief Executive, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who asserted that the HKSAR Government’s “commitment in promoting women’s development and advancement in all fields will only strengthen in the years to come” to the evening’s audience of 500 C-Level executives and business representatives. Our purpose is not to make a one-off statement, rather to push advancement in the long-term – 35% of our members are women, as well as 30% of our board, but we need to go beyond this and we will continue to push for greater diversity across the French Chamber’s activities. In the coming few months, we will showcase the best practices and programs implemented within companies. Using the model of HeForShe we will hear from corporates leading the charge for female advancement in the workplace on how they’re changing the status quo and thus transfer that knowledge to both our own, and HKGCC’s, members. You might have noticed from the cover that this HongKongEcho is a special one. We wanted to take a different approach to the topic of women in business by getting to know the stories of some of the female entrepreneurs who are making their mark in Hong Kong. Their struggles, their failures, their triumphs. This was no easy task as there are so many great women to include. But I feel the profiles we have covered offer a range of perspectives on this multifaceted question of what it means to be a female entrepreneur in our great city. Like any entrepreneur, these women are strong-willed, resilient, creative, vulnerable, brave, imperfect, inspiring. It’s no surprise that Hong Kong is a great place to be an entrepreneur. Let’s celebrate it through a different lens. Sit down, relax, discover.

Delphine Colson Executive Director French Chamber

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P.44 1 2 6 8


Editor’s Letter Contents Interviewees La Chronique

Cover Story: The Trailblazers

12 16 20 24 28 32 36


The right fit The view from above From little things A new chapter The leading role Failure is normal Progress

French Chamber Highlights

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Looking Back Members’ Highlights New Faces French Chamber Foundation

P.58 @French Chamber in Hong Kong

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Bonnie Cheung

Diana Chou

Nansun Shi

Only in her twenties when she began as CEO of Alvanon, Janice Wang has enjoyed a true entrepreneurial rollercoaster. She explains how she transformed the company into a global leader in fashion innovation on page 12. Diana Chou enjoys the unique title of first female to sell private jets in Asia. There have been some turbulent periods however – notably her first two years without recording a single sale. The Founder of Sino Private Aviation Limited tells us how she got off the ground on page 16. When you go from chef to restaurant owner, cooking great food – on its own – isn’t enough. May Chow, Asia’s Best Female Chef (2017) and restauranteur

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May Chow

Janice Wang

behind notable concepts Little Bao and Happy Paradise, explains why on page 20. Fanny Moizant admits she hasn’t always been that confident in what she could achieve. On page 24, the Co-Founder of fashion e-commerce retail giant Vestiaire Collective takes us through her new chapter in Asia and why she’s never seen a conflict between having a family and being an entrepreneur. Infernal Affairs, Once Upon a Time in China – ring any bells? Pulling the strings behind these, and many more, Hong Kong film classics is Nansun Shi. The Producer and Co-Founder of production company Film Workshop takes us behind the curtain of balancing

Fanny Moizant

Ariane Zagury

artistic expression and running a viable business operation on page 28. “People are imperfect, failure is normal,” says Ariane Zagury, Founder of Rue Madame Fashion Group. On page 32 she explains why accepting this simple edict goes a long way to carving a successful path as an entrepreneur. Bonnie Cheung, Partner at VC investment firm 500 Startups, is adamant that diversity is the way forward for unearthing the next great startup. But why do most female founders fail before they ever really begin? She lets us inside the typically masculine world of VC investment to find out on page 36.


Greater involvement of women in the Hong Kong’s business world is key for the city to reinvent itself, according David Baverez, author of ParisPékin Express. He tells us why women – and female entrepreneurs in particular – must “be bold for change!”


he slogan of the United Nations 2017 International Womens’ Day has probably never been more relevant than today for the female business community in Hong Kong. At a time when the city is at a crossroads in need of redesigning its role-model vis-à-vis the Mainland, there is no doubt that a greater involvement of women will be required for Hong Kong to reinvent itself successfully. If there’s a main lesson one can draw from the stunning economic success of the Mainland over the last thirty years, it’s that the best-kept secret of China is its women! Chairman Mao had already acknowledged it, insisting on female education as a key tool to develop the future of the country. Any lunch in

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Mainland today will teach you that it is your hostess – and not you! – who is the one deciding on the most important question of the day: what to eat? No surprise, then, that 55% of Chinese startups are being set up by women, versus only 22% in the US, testimony to the legendary entrepreneurial blood of Chinese women. And, if one more piece of evidence was required, put together a self-assured American CEO like Travis Kalanick of Uber, and a young bright Chinese female CEO like Liu Qing of Didi, and, as one would expect, it’s the Chinese woman who wins. Helped not least by her education that she sums up in the main principle she inherited from her father, the founder of the Lenovo group: “It’s supposed to be hard!”

There is therefore no doubt that HongKong has a lot to win by getting women more involved in the business community. Not through legal quotas in the boardrooms, as the West is artificially trying to push through in its part of the world, but more in the typical Hong Kong ‘hard’ way, through success thanks to one’s own intrinsic qualities. First, women are far more sensitive to the issues linked to the concept of ‘smart city’ that Hong Kong needs to develop if it wants to regain its influence as a provider of ideas to the Mainland, namely on topics like pollution, energy, environment, food safety, health services or education. Second, women are usually psychologically far more advanced at judging soft skills like


integrity and sincerity, the two necessary key ingredients for identifying the right business partner, i.e. the toughest decision that any entrepreneur faces when setting up a new venture in Hong Kong. Third, women tend to be the best judges at risk-taking, when their natural greater risk-aversion invites them to require higher return for every small incremental risk, making them very shrewd decision-makers in day-to-day business life. Even more decisively, women are key to the business world as they represent, in a vast number of industries, the majority of the end-customer base. Women tend to shop more than men, even defining in some cases their own identity though their purchases. This was illustrated recently in Mainland by the very successful “Change Destiny” campaign of the SK II cosmetics brand, or the emergence of the “ME Mums” phenomenon, asserting mothers’ greater independence in the Chinese society. That women as a

result are in a much better position to understand rapid customer evolutions in today’s very fast-moving market environment is as a result, for me, a given. Various testimonies in this issue of HongKongEcho, coming from very successful Hong Kong-based women entrepreneurs, will splendidly illustrate this point. So, What can the Government do to help? Is what should we be asking in the typical French manner. The obvious answer is for the Hong-Kong Government to inspire itself from one (of the few?) very successful public policies in France, i.e. the family support that has helped France’s birth rate remain one of the highest of the developed world. In Hong Kong, this will not only consider improved infrastructure for children, education for women, but also at-home care services for the elderly, as looking after dependent elderly relatives

remains one of the most frequent causes of career breaks for middle-aged women in Hong Kong. No Hong Kong administration should be better placed than the current one to address these issues, precisely as it is headed by a woman as Chief Executive, herself knowing the feeling of being surrounded by (too) many men! So, finally, my advice to Hong Kong’s women is simply to build their own definition of entrepreneurship and, as a result, to ‘be bold for change!’ David Baverez is the author of Paris-Pékin Express (Editions Francois Bourin 2017). The views expressed are purely personal.

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Photography for Janice Wang, Diana Chou, Fanny Moizant, Nansun Shi and Bonnie Cheung by Harold De Puymorin (HDP-Photography.com)

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THE RIGHT FIT JANICE WANG “We were all so young. We didn’t know anything,” recalls Janice Wang about the beginnings of Alvanon, the company where she’s now CEO. Only in her twenties at the time, she took the responsibility for taking mannequins out of a time warp and into a precise science.


t all started with babies. Janice, usually measured and assured, recalls the 1970s-style mannequins of children she first encountered in a tone that wavers somewhere between exasperation and hilarity. “Those models were basically just round blobs; no child looks like that! If you look at a toddler, they’re all tums and bums,” says the CEO of global fashion innovations company Alvanon. Her family ran one of Hong Kong’s premier children’s-wear brands – Janice is the third generation of an apparel business family – and thus mannequins for children became Alvanon’s first signature product. “We don’t make clothes, but we make clothes fit better – there’s actually quite a lot in that idea,” she explains. Under her leadership over the last 17 years, they’ve turned mannequins from haphazard papier-mâché handicraft into precise science shaping the future of fit. The result: millions shaved off bottom lines for apparel manufacturers worldwide.

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Baby steps When body scans and 3D rendering were in their infancy her father was thinking about how such technology could reshape the entire chain between design, production and consumption. Mannequins shaped by big data from body scans became the means to that end. Janice took the reins of Alvanon as CEO in 2002 with only a handful of staff and two small offices in Hong Kong and New York. A previous stint in South America at Chase Manhattan Bank – “Partly to escape doing the family business,” she says with a laugh – taught her the basics of balance sheets and investment, but otherwise she was raw. In her twenties, with a bundle of data and some game-changing technology in tow, she began knocking on the doors of some of the world’s biggest fashion brands trying to instigate change. At ease but intense in her recollections, Janice revisits the early days with full sympathy for other startup founders who

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“It’s those strengths that women launching their startups need to focus on. If all you want to do is complain about barriers, then you might want to rethink this path.”

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face similar struggles. “We were all so young. We didn’t know anything about dealing with things like legal structures and taxation issues. Meanwhile we had to figure out how to deliver a highquality product that hadn’t really been done before.”

“It was an extremely difficult period for us. We had to really take a step back from the business and rely on the internal processes we’d set up during my pregnancy. To that extent, our team did an incredible job holding the fort in our absence.”

What she needed was endorsement from equally visionary clients; people who could match her own lofty ambitions and willingly invest in her more expensive mannequins. They came in the form of retail giants Target, and later Marks & Spencer; two mammoth clients who are responsible for the company’s scale and success today.

The company, these days, continues to push the boundaries of what it means to be a fashion innovator. January 2018 marked the launch of their new innovation hub in Shanghai, while their 2016 project in collaboration with the Paris Opera drew the attention of the likes of The New York Times.

Ups and downs The breakneck speed at which the company was expanding meant there was little time to pause for breath. Her

The female question When asked what it means to be a female CEO and entrepreneur, Janice takes a momentary pause, weighing the complexity of what is a multi-layered

difficult for female entrepreneurs in Asia. In fact it’s easier. You don’t have to choose between having a career and having a family. In the West, that choice can be more complex.” There are other advantages for female entrepreneurs too, according to Janice. The collaborative soft-power skills she sees more commonly in female founders are vital to building a longterm company culture. “It’s those strengths that women launching their startups need to focus on. If all you want to do is complain about barriers, then you might want to rethink this path,” she says with typical candour. Likewise, she emphasises the need for female entrepreneurs to not only seek advice from fellow women but to be open to advice from all sources and all age groups.

“Instinctively you would think it should be more difficult for female entrepreneurs in Asia. In fact it’s easier.” pregnancy in 2008 changed this. The startup period was over, she realised, and the company needed to professionalise its internal processes. They’d grown up. Another rollercoaster period ensued. The strange chaos of the 2008-9 financial crisis coalesced with what Janice describes as a “major blow to the gut,” when her father Dr Kenneth Wang was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer leaving Janice and the rest of the family – two of her four brothers also work in the company – just 18 months with the visionary before his passing.

conundrum. “Yes,” she acknowledges, “I’m a female CEO in a Chinese family, working with my brothers, in an industry that caters to women but is often dominated by men in the upper echelons of brands.” However she feels, in the context of Hong Kong, such a feat is made easier by the affordability of domestic help and a general tradition of women in the workforce.

Ultimately she’d like to steer clear of what she sees as the polarisation of debates around gender. “I totally understand there needs to be a promotion of women as both entrepreneurs and in the workplace more generally. But I don’t think it should get to a point where there’s an enormous divide between men and women – because it’s a spectrum after all. Our differences are not black-and-white. Discussions about gender shouldn’t be divisive, otherwise we just go nowhere.”

“It’s interesting, because instinctively you would think it should be more

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | The View From Above

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THE VIEW FROM ABOVE DIANA CHOU You’d be forgiven for thinking the world of private jets is all cigar smoke, whiskey swirling, leathered upholstery and powerful men living the high life. Behind this Hollywood mystique is the woman who sells these vessels of luxury. Her name is Diana Chou.

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | The View From Above


t took me two years to sell my first private jet,” says Diana Chou, Founder of Sino Private Aviation Limited. “That’s two long years where you question yourself and your ideas.” You would hardly believe it now. A slight, elegant figure – often seen sporting a tailored suit jacket in a nod to a classic, more refined era of salespeople – this Hong Kong local has earned her place as a giant of the private aviation business. Diana became the first woman to sell private jets in Asia – her first sale coming in 2001 – firmly cementing her place as a pioneer in the development of this business in Hong Kong and China over the past two decades. “I think of myself as a ‘female entrepreneur,’ not simply an ‘entrepreneur’. Of course, in this industry it’s true that almost all of my customers are men. But actually I think that quite often they prefer to deal with a female salesperson. So it’s not always about disadvantages,” she says, pointing to the current Chief Executive as evidence that success for women in Hong Kong is not simply a pipedream. Shaking up the expectations of a maledominated industry is undoubtedly part of the legacy Diana has created. “I haven’t changed this industry singlehandedly.

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But I’m still proud of leading the way for other women who might never have thought it possible to do what I’ve done. If I can be a mentor or role model for others, then that’s a plus.”

From lipstick to Lear jets When she started Sino Private Aviation Limited – her first endeavour – in 1999, the private aviation industry was almost non-existent. The renowned Dr Stanley Ho owned a private jet, while billionaire Michael Kadoorie’s aviation group Metrojet was in its infancy. That was it. She joined forces with her brother who needed someone on the ground to chase deals in this nascent but ripe market for the ultra-rich. At the time, her status as the sole licenced representative to sell the Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier’s jets in China and Hong Kong belied her total lack of experience in the business. In the years before entering the world of tycoons and their toys, Diana was setting up stores for cosmetics brand Estée Lauder. A curious kink in her career path, certainly, but not without its own logic. “Whether you’re selling lipstick or an aircraft, ultimately you have to be highly focused on the customer and what they need. In that sense, it’s quite similar,” she explains.

The price point between the two, she acknowledges with a laugh, is notably different. A modest but rigorous saleswoman, Diana is at ease talking about selling aircraft that will set you back anywhere from HK$80 million to a cool HK$600 million. “What I realised is that selling a private jet is partly about making the client understand they’re buying something that is normally priceless. Time. That is such a valuable concept; people are prepared to pay if it means they can spend more time with their family, for example.” And why stop at jets? Private helicopters have become another successful avenue of business for this serial entrepreneur through her second company, Aerochine Aviation Limited. At last count, she had sold over 100 private jets and 60 helicopters in Hong Kong and China. They’re remarkable numbers, which are made all the more remarkable when you consider that at the start of 2016 only 132 private jets were registered in Hong Kong and 764 helicopters in the Chinese mainland, according to China Daily. The numbers are testament to Diana’s restless entrepreneurialism. In recent years she’s launched L’VOYAGE (a jet charter consultancy and lifestyle brand hybrid), an aviation service company

She’s also a founding member of the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) and has twice been awarded ‘Women Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the All China Women’s Association.

“Business is all about peaks and troughs,” she says with reference to the Sigmoid Curve, a theory that pictures the life of a business as an S-shaped curve; an initial decline for a period of learning and experimentation, then a period of growth and prosperity, and finally an inevitable decline. “The key is to always jump to the next opportunity to ride that upward curve.”

Her website lists an astounding 12 titles including director roles for the China Airport General Aviation Council and the Pacific Basin Economic Council.

She makes it sound easy. In reality, you sense that behind her breezy, effortless charm there is a fierce tenacity for making deals work.

in Ningbo, a world-class helicopter maintenance facility in the Jiangsu province and Aero Infinity (a Singaporebased helicopter leasing company).

Our conversation drifts back to the early days when she was making no deals at all. The intense loneliness of being an entrepreneur is still clear in her mind; the doubts, the worries, the constant search for answers. “In those early years where it was exceptionally tough, I turned to meditation. Ultimately, as an entrepreneur you have to look inside yourself. That’s where the answers always lie.”

“Whether you’re selling lipstick or an aircraft, ultimately you have to be highly focused on the customer and what they need.”

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | From Little Things


“I was very worried that I was a one-hit wonder,” confides May Chow. Going from chef to restaurant owner, she’s seen that cooking great food – on its own – isn’t enough. We join her to talk business acumen, pigeon claws, and everything in-between.


he shutter is halfway down on the discreet doorway leading to May Chow’s latest venture, Happy Paradise. It’s midday – there’s no lunch service here – and we creep through to the firstfloor restaurant which is perched over the intersection of Hollywood Road and Staunton Street in the heart of Soho. May is sat at one of the high-tables; a brilliant streak of silver through her short black hair seems entirely fitting for the palette of deep purple, sky blue and turquoise which punctuates the interior. The space, illuminated by a broad beam of sunlight, is enveloped in the strange ephemeral charm of a restaurant sans patrons. By night, however, this place will be a neon playground; shimmering, playful, alive.

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | From Little Things

“I definitely was not a good worker when I was younger. I was quite rebellious and I wasn’t at all interested in working for someone else”

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Beginnings “I knew from the beginning of my career that I wanted not only to be a chef, but to run my own restaurant,” she says, recalling the sight of her mother cooking nightly meals for 20-or-so members of her extended family in Canada – where she was born and raised. It wasn’t a path easily smiled upon by her parents, despite her father himself being an entrepreneur. “They didn’t really understand it. For them it wasn’t a career at all,” she explains. “I think I wasn’t –” she corrects herself, straightforward as ever, “No, I definitely was not a good worker when I was younger. I was quite rebellious and I wasn’t at all interested in working for someone else”. However, things began to click under the influential tutelage of two of Hong Kong’s most forward-thinking chefs, Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation and, in particular, Matt Abergel of stylish Sheung Wan hangout Yardbird from 2010-2012. “Matt was the first chef who fully resonated with me on both a professional and personal level. He succeeded in infusing all aspects of his life and personality into his restaurant, creating something truly unique.” This continues to inform the way she thinks about executing her concepts. “I want to be globally competitive. That’s another thing Matt taught me – never compete with the guy next door. If you’re going to do something, make sure it’s the best in the world.” The first steps When she was offered a stall at a farmer’s market one Sunday afternoon in 2013,

May wanted to cook something out of the norm. While bao buns had become trendy in other parts of the world, they were relatively unchartered territory for Hong Kong. This became the backbone item of her first restaurant, Little Bao, which opened the same year. The cosy twenty-seat eatery is now a staple of Soho’s dining scene. “I went into that project very naïve. Prior to that I was just a chef – and never even an executive chef,” says the 33-year-old. “You can no longer live in a bubble. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing an amazing job in the kitchen; you need to take an interest in all aspects of the business from front-of-house to costing. Ultimately, you better care about it because nobody else will do it for you.” Little Bao boomed. But it left her wondering would be next. “I was very worried that I was a one-hit wonder,” she says.

The answer came in 2016 when she teamed up with the founders of Hong Kong brewery Young Master Ales to open Second Draft, a Chinese gastropub in Tai Hang. “It was great working with those guys because they’re so talented. But I also realised that I need to have full control of my project, not just the kitchen. It reminded me that I’m not only a chef; I want to be responsible for the full package, that’s the difference.” With this in mind, she set about opening Happy Paradise in early 2017.

Bao. But your ego starts to grow and you gain confidence – I wanted to create something that was uniquely me.” The ambitious menu and décor didn’t win over clientele so easily, she admits. “We were bleeding money in those first six months. If you want to be purely creative, Hong Kong is not an easy place.” Pig brains and pigeons with claws attached are still found on a menu that has seen more than a handful of changes. She’s confident the original character remains largely intact. “We’ve achieved something that wouldn’t have happened if we were more business savvy – if I was smarter I wouldn’t have started this restaurant.” They’re strong words from the chef who acknowledges that being a female in this sector can be a lonely place. “Restaurants were always built for men, by men. When I go into a restaurant’s kitchen, the tables are too high for me, the chef jackets are too large or the knife is slightly too big because those are the ‘standard’ sizes. How are women supposed to succeed in that environment?” She sees part of her responsibility, now, as a business owner and Asia’s Best Female Chef (2017) to change the systems that have traditionally excluded or minimised female contributions to cuisine. “As a basic example, a lot of women still go into pastry because people tell them it’s easier. I remember the first few jobs I applied for in a high-intensity main kitchen – they asked me if I’d like to start with pastry instead. If I was a 200-pound man, would they have offered me the same thing?”

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“I’ve never been that confident in what I could achieve,” says Fanny Moizant. You would hardly guess it from the woman who co-founded one of the major players in online fashion retail today. With Europe conquered, Asia is now firmly in her sights.

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“As women I think we tend to lack confidence in our own abilities.”


f it was up to her she’d be in sneakers every day, admits Fanny Moizant. The co-founder of vintage fashion e-commerce giant Vestiaire Collective is decidedly laid back for someone who has spent the past six months orchestrating the mammoth launch of the company’s Asia operations. She ushers us over to the coffee bar of her co-working space in the sleepy industrial enclave of Wong Chuk Hang – her sweatshirt, sneakers and skirt ensemble an enigmatic mix of casual and chic – where an entire floor is dedicated to fashion startups. A dog – yes, a dog – wanders over to us while we wait for our afternoon brews, nudging us for attention and Fanny duly obliges; clearly this is totally normal here. We’re in startup territory after all. But it would be misleading to label Vestiaire Collective with the startup tag. Since its launch in 2009, Vestiaire has become a market leader in Europe and now employs some 300 staff across three continents. “If someone had told me that nine years later we’d have such enormous worldwide growth and that I would be landing here in Hong Kong, I’m not sure

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I would have signed up for it!” she says. Of course, she hasn’t done it alone. She’s one of six original co-founders who saw their wardrobes filling up with onceloved luxury items that needed a new home. At the time, fashion bloggers were operating their own electronic marketplaces, but the buying process was clumsy and there were few safeguards for quality. The idea was simple. Create a platform to act as the middleman between buyer and seller, curating all the best second-hand luxury items that users had to offer and leveraging expert knowledge (all items are physically assessed by experts before reaching the buyer) to ensure that the luxury items are what they claim to be. Over the past nine years, this idea has bloomed into a community of six million users worldwide, shaking traditional fashion operators to their core. New challenges Somewhat rare for startups, the group comprised of six co-founders at its inception. Rather than stepping on each other’s toes, they were instead able to cover all bases. “We’re quite lucky

that we all met with a similar idea in our minds and that we each possessed skills different to one another. One of the biggest mistakes I see amongst my girlfriends – or anyone for that matter – is that they start businesses with people who have the same skillset as themselves.” In that sense she’s never really felt alone, she says, gracefully diving into deep sips of her coffee between recollections. Still, she’s the only one of the founders to have left Paris. A four year stint in London setting up Vestiaire’s Europe operations is one she remembers fondly, despite its frustrations. Hiring and watching over country managers across the continent, she felt restrained by a handsoff approach. “I was very much in the ‘backseat’ watching others drive the business. After six months I realised it wasn’t for me and my life had become a bit flat. I need to be on the frontline of the action.” Vestiaire’s progress in the US market has been gradual but impressive and now the challenge fuelling her fire is Asia, a market

which is responsible for a huge portion of global luxury fashion purchases. It’s a new chapter in both the life of the company and her own journey to seek greater challenges. “In many ways I’ve grown alongside the company – at times it’s been a steep learning curve – so it makes sense that this is a big step both on a business and personal side,” she says. The current target is launching Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. She gives a friendly wave over our shoulder to one of her staff members strolling past – it’s the first week of on-boarding their new seven person office, which she adds is likely to rapidly expand as the Japanese and Korean markets launch next year. China, she says with a wry smile, will be part of the action when the moment is right. The entrepreneur mind-set Born into a family of entrepreneurs, Fanny has always known the allconsuming nature of running your own business. “This was a massive influence on my own choice to become an entrepreneur.” In her early 30s and discovering motherhood for the first time when the company launched, she admits the pull of entrepreneurship came relatively late.

She remains an avid reader of entrepreneur biographies – “although these days I seem to have less and less time to read,” – and pinpoints fellow digital-fashion-startup-extraordinaire Nathalie Massenet, Founder of Net-APorter, as an inspiration. She’s a mother, yes, but is hesitant to get bogged down in labels and platitudes. “It’s never really been a question for me whether I could be an entrepreneur and also have a family. The support you have in Hong Kong is great, but my life here hasn’t changed since I moved from Europe. Just because I have someone who can look after my kids, it doesn’t mean that I’m out socialising more often.” Nonchalant as ever, she shrugs off placing too much emphasis on differentiating the experience of being a female entrepreneur. Still, she’s conscious of certain elements holding women back. “As women I think we tend to lack confidence in our own abilities. We ask ourselves too many questions and ultimately this restricts us.” Her advice? Don’t ask questions. Just go for it.

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THE LEADING ROLE NANSUN SHI Making great films is one thing. Turning a profit is another. Few have balanced these elements as masterfully as film producer Nansun Shi in a career spanning almost four decades.

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“People were asking me: Why don’t you become a director? Because everyone wants to be a director, right?”


ansun Shi glides out from her surprisingly modest office to greet us; bold, eloquent, striking. A handful of film posters adorn the walls. The quiet ripple of keyboard clatter punctuates an otherwise silent workspace in the residential neighbourhood of Kowloon Tong. There are few hints that we’ve stumbled into in the heart of Hong Kong’s cultural fabric. After all, Nansun’s 30-plus year career as a producer in Hong Kong’s film industry makes her one of its most recognisable stalwarts. Hits such as Infernal Affairs (2002) (later remade by Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese as The Departed in 2006), A Better Tomorrow (1986), Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) stand out in her impressive list of credits.

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As co-founder of production company Film Workshop, she’s also an astute business owner whose longevity may only appear as a footnote to a particularly glittering profile. But it’s that business acumen which has set her apart from her peers. Early days

Nonetheless, she went on to earn a degree in statistics and computer science at the Polytechnic of North London. “I was very busy at university, but not necessarily with the studying,” she says with a smirk. A boisterous schedule of student-run extracurricular activities fed her appetite for culture with her keen entrepreneurial eye beginning to emerge. Lamenting the dilapidated state of the only cinema in her university neighbourhood’s Chinatown at the time, she bargained with its owner to rent her a handful of Chinese films that were otherwise gathering dust. He accepted and Nansun put on her own film screening at the university cinema, selling tickets to culture-hungry Chinese students. “It was a roaring success,” she says. “Looking back, this organisational experience set the foundations for my future.” Finding her place Returning to Hong Kong in 1975, she quickly set about leaving computer science behind. Through friends of friends, a little luck and a clear talent for cultural entrepreneurship, she ended up working part-time at Television Broadcast Limited before a three-year stint at Rediffusion Television Ltd.

Educated by nuns in the southern English county of Sussex – her accent remains gloriously British – Nansun’s path to the world of cinema is an unlikely one. “When I was growing up, particularly coming from an Asian background, the expectation from your parents is that you would study to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer. That was never what I wanted,” she says.

Through the late 70s to early 80s, the city was experiencing its own Nouvelle Vague movement characterised by a bubbling sense of creativity, excitement and expression with first-time directors – many of them her friends or colleagues – popping up with feature-length films. “People were asking me: Why don’t you become a director? Because everyone wants to be a director, right?”

In typically modest fashion, she concluded at the time that her talent for direction was limited. So she set her hand to the more businessorientated profession of production. “Lots of directors – especially in those days – were solely focused on the artistic side of things. Most of them were not so good at important organisational aspects like managing money and hiring staff. This is where I knew I could help.” She began producing for Cinema City Studios in 1981, the company responsible for a swathe of slick comedy blockbusters. By 1984, she and thenhusband Tsui Hark, an iconic and prolific director, had begun Film Workshop. Today Tsui remains her business partner despite their separation. “We just see each other less,” she jokes. Cinema City Studios is long extinct, like many others from Hong Kong’s boom period, while Film Workshop persisted through the nadir of the late 90s when the industry struggled for funding and creative direction. “We’ve survived and

set ourselves apart because we’ve been able to start a number of thematic trends and also build successful franchise films which produce offshoots and sequels,” she says. Balancing act Turning a director’s creative vision into a profitable endeavour means she’s acutely aware of the balance between artistic expression and commercial viability. “We make entertaining commercial films. But, crucially, we always have a social message or a strong element of artistic merit – both of which mean our films are present at festivals worldwide and this allows us to have global reach.” Reconciling those two often-contradictory elements requires a certain amount of clarity and foresight. “You need to be honest with yourself and, importantly, with your investors. Are you setting out to make an artistic film which you may lose money on? If so, then your investor needs to know.” Throughout the years, she doesn’t feel as

though certain expectations have been placed on her as a female producer and she’s quick to remark that generalisations should be taken with a pinch of salt. “People often say women tend to be more finicky in their work – but I’ve seen plenty of male directors who are like that. You could also say that women make good producers because they tend to be more patient and sympathetic – both important traits. But again, that’s only generally. Some are very impatient of course.” For the woman who’s been awarded Officier de I’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government and the Raimondo Rezzonico Prize for Producer of the Year (2014, Locarno Film Festival), and who’s also appeared on the jury for the main prize of both the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, it all comes down to ability. “Whether you’re female or not, the most important thing is that you hone your skills. This, in itself, is a lifelong and never-ending exercise.”

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | Failure Is Normal

FAILURE IS NORMAL ARIANE ZAGURY To succeed as a female entrepreneur, you need to embody two completely different personalities. Ariane Zagury, Founder of Rue Madame Fashion Group, explains why accepting imperfection is just the first step.


t just so happens that I’m more interested in beautiful things than I am in equity derivatives,” says Ariane Zagury. It’s a simultaneously blunt and poetic statement that underscores a clear self-awareness of her dualities; the former investment banker and current fashion extraordinaire; the caring mother and resilient CEO. We meet Ariane at Rue Madame’s offices in lower Sheung Wan along one of Hong Kong’s bustling arterial highways, far away (at least metaphorically) from the pristine splendour of shopping malls like IFC or Harbour City, which are home to a number of Rue Madame’s concept stores. We’re greeted by vinyl wall coverings that mimic iconic Parisian architecture, a slightly-opened cupboard which – at a peek – reveals the hemline of some sample or other, a towering but elegant poster from a 1960s French New Wave film and, finally, Ariane herself.

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THE TRAILBLAZERS | Failure Is Normal

“If I’ve gotten where I am by anything, it’s by making mistakes,” she says as way of introduction. The disarming combination of self-depreciation and unapologetic exuberance is decidedly at odds with her early-career beginnings in finance, where she spent her formative years with industry giants Credit Suisse, and later Goldman Sachs. “Actually in the banking industry, I saw that being a woman could be an advantage – people remembered me because I was different and I would bring different ideas to the table.” But one promotion too many left her in a job she resented and a desire for something new. Arriving in Hong Kong in 2008 with the prospect of fresh pastures, she saw the dearth of affordable luxury fashion and soon became the spearhead for a movement that has taken the city by storm when she launched Rue Madame in 2010.

Doing so is easier said than done, she admits. Part of this intellectual gymnastics is simply a process of acceptance. “As an entrepreneur you

better. I need to be constantly challenged and learning new things. Sure it’s tough and it comes with a lot of responsibility, but it’s also highly addictive,” she says with a wry smile. Ariane is aware that her combination of youth, bubbling persona and directness may catch people off-guard. She mimics the Who on earth are you? glances she admits to having received from senior brand executives on occasions. “You have to acknowledge that people won’t always ‘get’ you. But that’s fine.”

“The skills you need to be successful as an entrepreneur are the direct opposite to those for being a mother.”

Fast-forward eight years and Rue Madame Fashion Group now has 24 stores in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, including concept stores and stand-alone stores under their management. The skills needed in the early phases of development have evidently shifted for the woman who now leads over 100 employees, but the fabric of what it means to be a female entrepreneur remains the same. Split in two “The biggest difficulties you face come from yourself. For example, being ambitious is not very feminine – and

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yet I’m highly ambitious. How do you deal with this and also stay ‘feminine’?” It’s a question that feeds, equally, into her private life. “The skills you need to be successful as an entrepreneur are the direct opposite to those for being a mother. So how do you come back home and be a good mother? The main thing is to reconcile those two different characters within yourself.”

always want to have control, but you have to accept that things will often not work out how you would like.” Over the years there have been too many mistakes to remember, she says, visibly shaking her head at her own recollections. “Everybody makes mistakes. But as an entrepreneur, the difference is that you pay for those mistakes,” she says. She lets out a sigh in reflection. “Honestly when something goes wrong, I feel physically unwell and I literally have to just stare at the ceiling until I think of a solution.” It’s hard to imagine this boisterous and animated CEO immobilised in thought for too long. “I don’t enjoy stability. There’s always something you can do

Stubbornness to ignore and overcome expectations of how a female entrepreneur should look and behave goes a long way. In this case, the fashion industry is an interesting beast. It’s a place where female representation may be viewed with less prejudice but where image is everything, especially for women.

The importance of a woman’s image is particularly amplified in Hong Kong, she believes, although this is not limited to the fashion industry. Perfect kids, freshly manicured nails, a gym routine that would put Bear Grylls to shame, constantly coiffed hair – the list goes on. “When you’re an entrepreneur you need to live with the fact that everything around you will be imperfect, whether it’s your business or your home life,” she says. Her hope is that, in the age of oversharing and social media, we learn to relax some of these rigid expectations. “People are imperfect, failure is normal.”


BONNIE CHEUNG Diversity is the new black. At least that’s what we’re hearing from venture capital firms like Bonnie Cheung’s 500 Startups. But why do most female founders fail before they ever really begin? She lets us inside the typically masculine world of VC investment to find out.

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“There will always be a struggle; the point is we’ve made progress and it’s something we’ll continue to push for.”

e’re losing a lot of great female ent repreneurs, simply because they shied away from the battle in the beginning. My job is to change that.” She may not be the embodiment of macho bravado we’ve become accustomed to from investors on hit television shows like Shark Tank, but as Partner in venture capital firm 500 Startups, Bonnie Cheung is just as resolute.

Having grown up with parents wanting her only to pursue practical majors like engineering or accounting – “thank god I actually love engineering!” she says with a broad smile – she was exposed early-on to clear gender disparities in the so-called ‘hard’ sciences when she attended the prestigious Dartmouth College in the US. “When I graduated from engineering in 1998, 19% of the cohort was female. Remarkably in 2016, that had risen to 54% - which is the first time the majority has shifted for a bachelor’s degree in engineering at a national research university in the US,” she says. Still, translating these numbers into budding startup founders is another question. Making it as a female founder “Very often I see lots of women with technical backgrounds who have – subconsciously – built into their 38 | HongKongEcho

thinking that the idea of a female entrepreneur is almost impossible,” she says with frustration. “I notice there’s a tendency for female founders to overthink. The negative is that many don’t take the first step. But the positive is that if they do take that step, they tend to have better thought-out business plans and are willing to ask for help – this is what the best entrepreneurs do; they recognise their limitations.” When it comes to funding, she pinpoints two key elements she tells any founder, whether male or female. “First, understand who your potential investors are – do they understand what you’re trying to build? Second, do you understand your target market?” “If I have an all-male startup pitching an app to me about monitoring ovulation cycles, for example, I would probably give them a tougher time in terms of making sure they truly understand the problem they’re trying to solve. It’s not that it’s about male vs. female – you simply need to work harder if you’re not part of your own target market.” It’s logical, then, that most of the female founders she encounters are found in the sectors of education, e-commerce and

healthcare; areas where women have typically been decision makers in a household.

Of course, sometimes just getting a foot in the door can be particularly problematic for female founders. “Investors in VC firms are always short on time. So we tend to favour introductions made through friends. As most investors are male, this can be a problem.” Slowly, and most importantly, this is actually being recognised as a problem where previously it was simply the status-quo. Diversity on all fronts – be it gender, nationality or economic background – is increasingly attractive to investors. “We have a fiduciary duty to return profit to our shareholders and we notice that this diversity is overlooked, which means it’s undervalued. So in our last batch of funding we had over 40% international founders and 30% of companies with at least one female founder.” She expects this trend to continue, especially in Hong Kong. “We’re surprisingly above the global average for percentage of female entrepreneurs.” Still, nothing changes overnight. “There will always be a struggle; the point is we’ve made progress and it’s something we’ll continue to push for.”


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How CCE’s female leaders are showing the way for changes in the workplace Marie-Hélène Prévot, vice-president of the Conseillers du Commerce Extérieur (CCE) in Hong Kong, shares her own thoughts, and those of her CCE colleagues, on advancing female representation in the workplace. Numbers and vocabulary I am personally convinced that ‘gender balance’ is essential not only for a fair representation of women in the workforce but, more importantly, because men and women together will make the necessary decisions to integrate changes for greater progress and global wealth. The worldwide CCE (or French Foreign Trade Advisors) organisation has taken concrete actions to allow a fair representation of women professionals in its structure, especially in its international section. A 25% quota has been set up, a number which has been reached already. Today the CCE Hong Kong section consists of 15 women out of a total 49 members, making a 30% representation supported proudly by its president Jacques Boissier and its two vicepresidents Karine Hirn and Marie-Hélène Prévot. Let’s not call it a ‘quota’, simply call it an ‘objective’ or ‘ambition’. As, no doubt, we are only speaking of positions acquired through merit. As Yan Lan, Lazard China, Managing Director, Head of Greater China Investment Banking says: “In Lazard’s Greater China team, 65% of all bankers of VP-level and above are women and of course, they earned their positions entirely on merit.” Vocabulary is also important. When describing the environment that many professional women encounter, a ‘fighting attitude’ is promoted. “You have to win the battle.” Elise Tchen, CEO Parrot Asia Pacific; “In order to succeed, young female professionals must continue to try to crack the glass ceiling and be bold enough to pursue senior positions.” Yan Lan; “Mentoring is about developing self-confidence but also about fighting gender stereotypes.” Charlotte Judet, VP of Communication, Kering APAC.

Models for inspiring actions “I believe our consistent results are a direct consequence of having implemented parity at the highest levels of management and decision-making; the effects on our company culture: collaborative efforts, salary parity, meritocracy combined with dedication, hard work and a culture of widespread mentoring.” Helene Wajnblum-Liu, Executive Director, Ingrid Millet “I have worked in the insurance industry for the last 30-plus years, both in Western Europe and in Asia. My advice for women worldwide is to find your own purpose and go for it. Make courage and meritocracy your motors in life. Do not polarise, prove. Do not despair, dare.” Doina Palici-Chehab, Executive Chairman, AXA Corporate Solutions, AXA Art, AXA Matrix Risk Consultants “My new role as the board member of Laurent Perrier is encouraging to women executives as we have reached a much more significant 40% female representation at the board level for public listed companies in France today.” Wendy Siu. “10 years mentoring young women in Hong Kong has helped me see why diversity matters. In my own company I have implemented a series of policies such as levelling-up salaries, coaching and one day per week work from home for every staff member.” Beatrice Remy, Managing Director, LORE Ltd “Once I started my own company, I decided to create a rewarding and fulfilling workplace by creating personnel systems that empower all women. Working from home is allowed; mothers can spend time with their kids and family.” Laurence Ouaknine, AU COEUR DU LUXE, President.

Note that this ‘battle’ is never against the other gender, only against pre-conceived ideas. “Male colleagues’ support to improve the status and position of women is very important.” Yan Lan “We need to empower women by empowering men to challenge norms and behaviours.” Karen Contet Farzam, Founder, WHub.io

“Launching a women's network like HEC au Feminin in Hong Kong has enabled many women in Hong Kong to learn from one another and share on major professional topics.” Laetitia Mergui, CEO Asia, The Kooples Asia Pacific Limited.

When I was asked to write an article on this subject, I proposed to my female CCE colleagues to share their own thoughts to combine with my own. Immediately I received so many great comments that all their feedback cannot be entirely developed in this article! Proof, if it was needed, that the topic remains highly relevant.

These CCE women are personally committed to changes by supporting actions such as mentoring, coaching or hiring personal coaches for staff. Two other examples among many; Charlotte Judet’s involvement in Kering’s Leadership & Gender Diversity scheme and Wendy Siu’s upcoming participation as a guest speaker at the World Retail Congress in Madrid this April 2018, defining how women can shape the global retail industry at the top level. Both showcase effective results on gender balance within their company.

Self-confidence and role models Self-confidence must be reinforced. “As women, we tend to lack self-confidence. Men don’t.” Elsa Rameau, Managing Director Hermes, Hong-Kong & Macau. Female role models are also necessary. “We need more role models for younger women but also to make sure that groups empowering women are inclusive of men.” Karen Contet Farzam. “When I visit companies around the word, I always ask about gender balance at the board level and enquire about the reasons for none (the answers are always very interesting!)” Karine Hirn, East Capital, Partner. Wendy Siu, Founder/President of Heather & March & Board Member of Laurent Perrier adds: “I would like to encourage women to just keep on focusing and building their strength and qualities despite setbacks in order to succeed.”

I am convinced that showing the involvement of the professional women members of the CCE Hong Kong section will serve as a great guideline for more actions and results. Marie-Hélène Prévot, Tribe22 retail consultancy&solutions, Director HongKongEcho | 41


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French Chamber Section 44

Looking Back · International Women's Day in support of HeForShe · Made In Asia · Time to Rethink F&B · The Pioneer Talks · SIAL China Press Conference · Celebrating French Success Stories in Hong Kong

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Members’ Highlights


New Faces


French Chamber Foundation


Panellists Lincoln Leong, Steve Clark, Allan Zeman and Luc-Francois Salvador share with our moderator Angelina Kwan how their companies are supporting gender equality in the workplace.


French Chamber celebrates 2018 International Women’s Day with 2nd Edition of the HeForShe conference Following the success of our International Women’s Day conference in 2017

Mr Cheung added: “The Government is committed to promoting women’s

in support of HeForShe, this year under the initiative of our Women on Board

development and advancement in all fields and accords high priority to

Committee we partnered with The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

creating a more enabling environment for women to make an informed choice

and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited to promote gender equality

to join or remain in the workforce.” He also thanked the Hong Kong Exchanges

in the workplace to an even wider audience.

for supporting the establishment of the Gender Focal Points and spearheading reforms to promote board diversity in order to raise awareness of gender

On 6 March 2018 we gathered more than 500 C-Suite executives and heads

mainstreaming in the business community.

of French and Hong Kong companies at HKEX’s newly opened Connect Hall to hear about what companies, both locally and abroad, are doing to support

As President of the French Chamber, Rebecca Silli gave a reminder of the

female advancement in the workplace.

importance for companies to adopt better gender equality strategies: “Empowering women and improving gender equality are imperative for

We are extremely proud to have played our part in supporting this United

companies that want to perform at the highest level. I am proud that The

Nations’ global HeForShe initiative by engaging a number of key actors to talk

HKGCC and HKEX join us to engage men and boys in removing the social and

about their commitment to this valuable campaign.

cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential in Hong Kong.” Likewise, she pointed out France’s welcomed adoption of a law

Mr Matthew Cheung, Acting Chief Executive of the HKSAR, delivered the

in 2011 that makes it mandatory for boards of listed companies to have 40%

keynote address at the event, and re-affirmed that gender equality is vital to

of women directors.

Hong Kong’s continued success as the premier business hub in the AsiaPacific region. “The significance and benefits of a gender inclusive and family

The Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Stephen

friendly working environment to developing, attracting and retaining the best

Ng, also took to the stage to highlight the significant achievements that women

talents, both males and females, are enormous,” he said.

have been making in the workplace. “While about one-third of Hong Kong’s

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solicitors and public accountants were females 20 years ago, the percentage

The study examined the role of women in startups in Hong Kong and how

has risen to some 50%. Also, one in three managerial positions are currently

corporates can attract and retain women, and by doing so achieve more

taken up by females. While we can rightly take pride in these figures, there

innovation within their own organisation. It found that the primary reasons for

is absolutely no room for complacency and we should always be aiming to

women choosing to work in a startup are because they face a glass ceiling in

do better. This is especially true at board level, where only 14% of our board directors are females, just slightly ahead of Singapore at 10%.” He added that the Hong Kong General Chamber has long encouraged businesses to increase diversity in their boardrooms and also recommended policies for the Government to increase female participation in the workforce.

corporations and that they want to make a concrete impact on the company. Furthermore, women highly value organisations demonstrating a participative leadership style where their ideas are being heard and where they are being recognised for their work. Lastly, women surveyed said they are looking for an environment that offers work-life balance, career flexibility and the ability to work from home.

The last of the opening speeches was delivered by HKEX Chairman C K Chow,

The conclusion to be drawn is that if corporates can embrace some of

who noted: “We all benefit when everyone has an opportunity to make the

these findings, they will accelerate the way that female employees in their

most of his or her abilities. Businesses should consider both women and

organisation innovate, excel and grow through the ranks.

men equally for their leadership positions. The Women’s Exchange of HKEX has advocated gender equality in our company and community since it was

We’d like to offer a thanks to Olivier Blum, Chief HR Officer, Schneider

formed by members of our staff in 2013, and it continues to remind us of the

Electric, UN HeForShe Impact Champion, for his passionate sharing of his

importance of fairness and a level playing field in the workplace.”

company’s best practices to drive positive change in the workplace which followed the presentation of the research findings.

Our aim for the event was not only to create vibrant discussion amongst business leaders, but also to bring some key insights to all those in attendance. As such, we commissioned a research study that was conducted by Wavestone, a global consultancy firm, to gain a clearer picture of how women contribute to fostering disruption and innovation in the workplace in Hong Kong.

A special thanks also to our four panellists who offered a lively discussion to wrap up the evening’s proceedings and who have all committed to this cause: Steve Clark, CEO, SUEZ Asia, Lincoln Leong, CEO, MTR Corporation Ltd, Allan Zeman, Chairman, Lan Kwai Fong Group, Luc-Francois Salvador, Executive Chairman, APAC & Middle East, Capgemini, our moderator Angelina Kwan, Chair HKEX Women’s Exchange, HKEX. A final thank you to our sponsors: Capgemini, Colliers International, Credit Agricole, Swire, Wavestone, BNP Paribas, DT Capital, Kering, Mazars, Natixis, Pan Asian, Pernod Ricard Asia, PWC, Societe Generale, Suez NWS, Veolia. Find links to photos and videos on our website: www.fccihk.com/blog/ french-chamber-celebrates-2018-international-womens-day-2ndedition-heforshe-conference Stay tuned for the first ‘best practices’ sharing session with Danone Nutricia

Rebecca Silli, President of the French Chamber, C K Chow, Chairman of HKEX, Mr Matthew Cheung, Acting Chief Executive of the HKSAR, and Stephen Ng, Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber

Steve Clark, CEO, SUEZ Asia, and his guests are #HeForShe!

Early Life Nutrition, a HeForShe Thematic Champion, on 9 May 2018 at the French Chamber.

French Chamber organising team with Women on Board Committee (Marie-Hélène Prevot, Christine Raynaud, Charlotte Judet and Joanna Chin)

HongKongEcho | 45


Transparency the name of the game at this year’s

Made in Asia

220 guests at the Harbour Grand

The 8th edition of our annual signature sourcing symposium, Made in Asia,

do not spontaneously embrace transparency and the tools available, legal

took place on 15 March at the Harbour Grand. With the programme devised

obligations will force them to do so.

and orchestrated by the Chamber’s Sourcing Committee, this signature event has become a reference point for the industry, providing candid insight on

As usual, the day was organised with several breaks to enable networking

topics that concern all sourcing professionals.

opportunities between participants, and allow interactions between the audience and the speakers throughout some of the presentations.

Featuring robust debate from 14 industry leaders, our 220 participants learnt how the sector is beginning to embrace transparency to improve all aspects of

Thank you to Mr Edward Yau Tang-wan, GBS, JP, Secretary for Commerce

the value chain from product design to the consumer satisfaction.

and Economic Development of the HKSAR Government who opened the event as our Guest of Honour as well as our speakers and sponsors on the

The last edition of Made in Asia tackled the future of the middleman in a


sector shaken by the 4th industrial revolution and customers’ expectations. This edition, however, focused on the need for innovation and transparency

Thank you to our sponsors: Pivot88, AsiaInspection, BNP Paribas, HSBC,

which forces companies to review their manufacturing, how they transform

DDS Logistics, Fiducia, KPMG, YOOSourcing.

themselves and, most importantly, how a transparent and compliant manufacturing process is actually good for business.

Please visit www.madeinasia.hk for photos, videos and highlights from the day.

Top-level speakers shared their views, presented practical cases and advised participants on what’s coming. Since, as our speakers noted, if companies

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See you next year!

Networking breaks in the day

Archana Kotecha, Head of Legal, Liberty Asia

Edward Yau Tang-wan, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR Government, Rebecca Silli, President, French Chamber, with organising team representatives from Sourcing Committee (Claire Becq and Anne-Laure Descours).

Some key insights • More than ever customers want to spend their money on a company they can be proud of; sustainability indexes will change the way consumers decide. • Legal risks for businesses are increasing including parent companies being liable for actions of subsidiary / contractors further down the supply chain. • Why are we still hiring people for the skillset and not for the things we can’t teach them? Catherine Chiu, General Manager, Corporate Quality and Sustainability, Crystal International Group Limited

• Embrace change, it’s fun!

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Time to rethink F&B: Welcome to the ‘fun and beyond’ revolution “F&B looks like a glamorous industry from the outside, but the reality is often much different.” It’s just one of the great quotes from our morning breakfast event featuring four of the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry heavyweights in Hong Kong on 17 January. We welcomed Anna Chau, CEO, King Parrot Group, Alan Lo, Co-founder, Classified Group, Danilo Nicoletti, Managing Director, Western Division, Lai Sun Dining Limited, Sandeep Sekhri, CEO and founder, Dining Concepts Ltd for a wide-ranging chat moderated by David Baverez, private investor and author.

Representing some of the most prominent groups in Hong Kong, we heard about the challenges of adapting to an evolving consumer base and how to offer the best experience in a crowded, highly competitive market. What’s clear is that this is an unforgiving sector – what’s less clear is how the future will reshape the industry.

Alan Lo, Co-Founder, Classified Group, Sandeep Sekhri, CEO and Founder, Dining Concepts Ltd., Anna Chau, CEO, King Parrot Group, Danilo Nicoletti, Managing Director, Western Division, Lai Sun Dining Limited and moderator David Baverez.

All aboard for inaugural edition of The Pioneer Talks

Charles Caudrelier and Bruno Dubois, Dongfeng Race Team, talk to Kieran Cash, French Chamber.

The first edition of The Pioneer Talks, a French Chamber initiative to inspire and

In conditions of punishing physical exertion, sleep deprivation and elite-level

transform, kicked off on 25 January to coincide with the arrival of the iconic

competition, Charles’ job is to decide strategy while simultaneously looking

Volvo Ocean Race in Hong Kong. This is the first time this gruelling race has

after the well-being of his crew. A tough task no doubt, but one which has its

hit the city’s shores – an epic test of man and machine that takes competitors

parallels to management from a business perspective also.

around the world in a race that lasts some nine months. Dongfeng Racing Team’s unique setup of pairing less-experience Chinese We had the pleasure of hosting an exclusive conversation with Charles

sailors with veteran French sailors was also a topic of discussion with Bruno

Caudrelier (Skipper) and Bruno Dubois (Team Director) of Dongfeng Race

who explained the sponsor’s desire to promote the sport of sailing in China.

Team about the rigours of management in extreme circumstances along with

This fascinating partnership has so far proved to be a success and we wish the

a detailed and guided tour of the boat itself.

team all the best for the remainder of the race!

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French Chamber organises SIAL China Hong Kong Press conference showcasing the future F&B trends in Asia

The French Chamber of Commerce co-organised a successful press conference with SIAL China in Hong Kong on 31 January 2018, announcing the 19th edition of SIAL CHINA to be held this May in Shanghai. The press conference gathered over 40 guests from major Hong Kong F&B associations and media.

As an international trade hub, Hong Kong also functions as a regional F&B distribution and business operations centre. Every May, a multitude of F&B professionals from Hong Kong attend the SIAL CHINA Exhibition in Shanghai to explore new business opportunities. This year a total of 21 food and beverage sectors across 13 halls, covering 162,000 sqm is expected to draw at least 3,400 exhibitors and attract over 110,000 professional visitors.

During the press conference, Ms Kate Ba, Market and Communication director of Comexposium, organiser of SIAL China shared with us the latest

trend of the changing behaviour of mainland Chinese consumer towards food purchasing. We also heard from speakers from the Association of Coffee and Tea of Hong Kong and Jones Lang Lasalle. Their sharing on the events at SIAL China and future trends for HK F&B establishments definitely inspired us to discover new ways to remain competitive in the fast-evolving F&B environment in Asia.

Registration for SIAL China is now open. To facilitate your visit, professional visitors are encouraged to pre-register online and obtain a free visitor badge.

Please visit: www.sialchina.com/visitor/registration Facebook: www.facebook.com/Promosalons-Hong-Kong-393920937639319 Facebook: www.facebook.com/Promosalons-Hong-Kong-393920937639319

Celebrating French success stories in Hong Kong On 11 January 2018, we joined our valuable partner Invest Hong Kong for a cocktail to celebrate the French business over the past 20 years in Hong Kong since the Handover.

The evening also marked the launch of Invest Hong Kong’s booklet featuring highlights of French business success stories in the city. Welcoming remarks from Stephen Phillips, Director General of Invest Hong Kong, emphasised the strong bonds enjoyed between French business and Hong Kong. Likewise, Eric Berti, Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau and Rebecca Silli, President of the French Chamber, gave their thoughts on this ever-growing relationship.

It’s part of the Chamber’s mission to maintain strong connections with the local business community and it’s always a pleasure to share and interact with our local partners at evenings such as this, allowing our members to network beyond the French community.

The French Case Studies booklet can be downloaded on our website: fccihk.com/blog/france-case-studies-à-hong-kong

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Bureau Veritas acquires ICTK in South Korea and enters smart payment market Bureau Veritas has acquired ICTK Co., Ltd. (ICTK), one of the key global players in smart payment testing and certification services for mobile devices, payment cards and point of sale terminals. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in the Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea, ICTK provides smart payment security testing and certification against EMVCo and Visa requirements. The company serves international high-tech manufacturers, brands and financial service leaders. ICTK employs 20 people and generated around €3 million revenues in 2016. ICTK expands Bureau Veritas’ capabilities in Smartworld and enables the Group to acquire EMVCo / VISA accreditations. It is a unique opportunity for Bureau Veritas to enter the smart payment market, a segment that continues to expand as consumer demand for contactless and mobile payment grows at a rapid pace. EMVCo / VISA accreditations also open up development prospects in China and the United States.

security capabilities to our portfolio, a fast growing segment especially in mobile payments which is experiencing high double digit growth. With Bureau Veritas’ leadership position in regulatory and performance testing and ICTK’s leadership position in payment security services, our clients will benefit from a complete solution for their products.” Justin Jungwon Lee, Chief Operating Officer of ICTK, stated: “With the continued development of new mobile and smart payment methods, the need for smart payment testing grows apace. As a recognized specialist in this technological niche, we are proud to join forces with a global leader in the Smartworld testing and certification industry.”


Bureau Veritas’ Chief Executive Officer Didier Michaud-Daniel commented: “This is the third Smartworld acquisition in the last two years adding payment

Evergreenland Ltd introduces intelligent indoor air system at CES Las Vegas According to the World Health Organization (WHO), research shows air pollution is the direct cause of 6 million deaths each year and an exponential increase of allergy issues in the population. On average, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors within homes that can be up to five times more polluted than the outside environment. One of the main contributors to indoor pollution, besides the particulate matters (PM), is the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) coming from paint, varnish, deodorizer and/or other chemicals. As a consequence, the aromatherapy delivering terpenes (a family of VOCs) from the essential oils, can be more harmful than good if diffused into a polluted air environment. In this context, Evergreenland Ltd. introduces OLFINITY, the first-ever intelligent air system to bring together air quality assessment, air purification and controlled aromatherapy to create an unparalleled indoor health and wellness environment. The complete system was on display at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES); making its official debut at ShowStoppers ® in the Lafite Ballroom in the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas. “With OLFINITY, we want to give consumers full control of their indoor air quality while providing them with user-friendly and effective solutions,”

50 | HongKongEcho

said Olivier Partrat, Co-Founder, OLFINITY adding that “our mission is to raise awareness and help consumers understand that, with our connected and transparent system, they can control the air they breathe in an indoor environment, and create the conditions to optimise an aromatherapy session when desired.” How it works: OLFINITY is an IoT based premium solution complete with three smart devices – air monitor, air purifier and aromatherapy diffuser – connected and managed by a gateway. “We know that this system will disrupt the health and wellness industry and most importantly empower people to take control of their life indoors,” explains Olivier.


Eco-schools: increasing awareness to encourage change at French International School amount of polyfoam trash generated every day and the difficulties in its recycling. In December, it was decided to weigh food waste from students’ plates over a one week period. Data extrapolated from the results obtained indicate annual wastage of 19.5kg per student which is above the French national average of 16kg. Students will now develop and set up a plan to reduce waste which they will promote and circulate both in school and to the wider school community. The impact of their campaign will be evaluated after 3 months when the food waste will be weighed again. Another aspect of this investigation Eco-schools (www.ecoschools.global) is one of the United Nations

has been for students to approach the school’s caterers who identified three

Environment Programme’s (UNEP) preferred international programmes for

main types of waste: production waste, over production waste and plate

environmental education, management, sustainability, and certification.

waste. Another aspect of this project is for the school to find solutions with

The first Eco-schools were launched in 1994 and in 2005 Eco-Ecole (www.

different stakeholders, for example the school caterer, who identified three

eco-ecole.org), the French programme, was established by the non-profit

main types of waste: production waste, over production waste and plate

organisation Teragir with the support of the French Department of Education.

waste. While discussing waste reduction the relationship with Foodlink, a

More than 2,500 French schools now have the Eco-Ecole label including the

local charity which provides meals for those without was highlighted. Helping

French International School of Hong Kong (FIS) which is currently seeking the

students to see the bigger picture illustrates how the Eco-Ecole programme

award for the 10th consecutive year.

influences students to take an active role in learning and fostering change.

The Eco-Ecole programme encourages schools to implement sustainable

In a world facing numerous environmental challenges, the importance of

development education and empower stakeholders to take an active role in

increasing awareness among young people cannot be underestimated; after

how their school can be run for the benefit of the environment. This approach

all today’s students are tomorrow’s decision makers.

combines learning with action as a way to influence behaviour. An Eco-Ecole must demonstrate its commitment to sustainability through a relevant annual project which meets several criteria. The project should: be managed by a


dedicated team composed of different parties from the school community (headmasters, teachers, students, parents, administration staff); investigate internal procedures; consider, develop and establish solutions; measure and confirm results; be used for cross disciplinary learning; communicate results with the wider community; allow for involvement on a creative level. In addition, eight themes are provided with schools selecting a different area every year: food, biodiversity, climate, waste, water, energy, health and solidarity. For 2017-2018, the FIS Sustainable Development Committee has chosen to look at the struggle against food wastage, considering both food and food packaging, notably plastic, which is used only once before becoming enduring trash, unlikely to be recycled in Hong Kong. To kick off, 9 classes in 6eme had a field trip with Polyfoam Recycling Scheme; by collecting used polyfoam from wet markets and industrial areas, they learnt about the huge

HongKongEcho | 51


HEC Paris joins top international business schools for Dual-Degree Master’s programs In autumn 2017, HEC Paris was among five top business schools who

Graduates will be alumni of both schools and will have access to the schools’

launched the M2M, a portfolio of double degrees giving recent university

career resources.

graduates the opportunity to complete two master’s degrees by attending two top business schools in two different countries over two years.

This innovative program gives ambitious students an unparalleled advantage by grounding them in the distinctive academic cultures and approaches of two

This initiative is an effort by leading business schools on multiple continents

top business schools in different countries, while preparing them for global

to meet the demands of a globalised economy and provide future business

roles. Students get the chance to study alongside peers from all continents

leaders with a distinctive learning experience that will accelerate their careers.

with diverse experiences. They will benefit from curricular and extracurricular

The M2M programs are a collaboration among five schools: FGV Escola de

collaborations among the schools, highly personalised career services, and

Administração de Empresas de São Paulo, HEC Paris, Hong Kong University

the networks of two global business schools.

of Science and Technology Business School (HKUST), Sauder School of Business University of British Columbia, and the Yale School of Management

“The innovation here is to go to the market with a range of world class

(Yale SOM).

academic partners sharing joint admission processes and aiming at recruiting together a significant number of students. We are convinced that this offer

The five participating schools are all members of the Global Network for

meets the demand of growing numbers of extremely talented and globally-

Advanced Management, a network of top business schools committed to

mobile students who target prestigious double degree programs as passports

educating global leaders through collaboration and innovation.

for international careers,” says Peter Todd, Dean of HEC Paris.

Six M2M double degrees are available as of September 2017 for student applications: FGV-Yale, HEC-FGV, HEC-HKUST, HEC-Yale, HKUST-Yale,


and Sauder-Yale. After they complete both academic years, students will graduate with two master’s degrees, one from each school they attended.

MediaCom named Campaign’s Media Network of the Year 2017 MediaCom has been announced as Campaign’s Media Network of the Year

business results for its clients. This includes winning a record 18 awards at

2017. The title comes after a successful 12 months, in which MediaCom won

the Festival of Media Global Awards, Campaign of the Year and eight other

new business worth US$4bn – more than any other network. Significantly,

golds at the M&M Global Awards, and 60 Cannes Lions as credited agency.

this includes being named agency of record for global clients including

“This has been an incredible year for MediaCom, after a challenging 2016.

Richemont, Walgreens Boots Alliance and PSA Groupe.

Losing the global Volkswagen account was a big blow, but our people have rallied together tremendously to lead our fight back,” said Stephen Allan,

The award is MediaCom’s third network crown of 2017. Earlier in the year, it

MediaCom’s Worldwide CEO and Chairman. “In 2017, we have won major

was named Agency Network of the Year at both the Festival of Media Global

clients all around the world, delivered work that has helped our existing

Awards and the M&M Global Awards. This is the first time any agency has

clients grow, and been recognised by our peers in the process. It’s been a

held all three titles simultaneously.

truly special 12 months.”

Beyond its positive new business performance, MediaCom also enjoyed major success at global awards shows in 2017, for work which drove real

52 | HongKongEcho


CAAS and Thales collaborate to develop new generation air traffic management technologies The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Thales have signed

technology revolution. As a leading Air Navigation Services Provider, we are

a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate on developing new

committed to exploring new innovations and digital technologies to develop

concepts of operations for air traffic management (ATM), as well as the next

ATM solutions that address the unique challenges faced by Singapore and

generation of ATM technologies. The MOU was signed by Mr Kevin Shum,

the Asia Pacific region. We believe such investments will not only enhance

Director-General, CAAS, and Mr Alex Cresswell, Thales Executive Vice

our ATM capabilities, but also make a real difference towards the sustainable

President (EVP) for Land and Air Systems, on the sidelines of the Singapore

advancement of aviation in the region.”

Airshow. Mr Alex Cresswell, Thales EVP for Land and Air Systems, added, “Thales The MOU will facilitate cooperation in analysing the impact digital trends

no longer views digital revolution as an emerging trend but as an immediate

have on the aviation ecosystem, applying artificial intelligence in ATM, and

reality, with a €1billion investment in digital technology already materialised by

co-developing an ATM system architecture that is future-ready and flexible to

the Group. The aviation ecosystem is one of the domains we feel will benefit

allow new advanced technologies to be easily incorporated into operations.

most from digitisation. Through this multidisciplinary relationship CAAS and

Mixed use of airspace for manned aircraft and drones will also be explored.

Thales will collaborate for the air traffic management of the future, and we

These activities will support the development of the next generation of ATM

could not be prouder.”

operations that will be nimble, scalable and adaptable. Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General of CAAS, said, “Aviation is on the cusp of a


HongKongEcho | 53



Thomas CM WONG Head of Business Partnerships Management



Firmly rooted in Hong Kong for over 100 years, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited (“BOCHK”) is a leading listed commercial banking group with strong market positions in all major businesses. We are one of the three note-issuing banks, the sole clearing bank for Renminbi business in Hong Kong and a Chairman Bank of the Hong Kong Association of Banks on a rotational basis.

Integrated Management System (IMS) is a global management consulting firm with presence in France, Hong Kong, China and Japan. We help companies, large or small, to re-envision their digital strategy and transform by adopting next generation technology.

Ramsay LAM Head of Small Enterprise Management Division

Anastasios PAPADOPOULOS Founder & CEO

Manuela BURKI Director of Marketing

George HENEIN Senior Digital Consultant



Walter CHAN Business Development Manager

We are convinced that businesses become competitive through encouraging expression and nurturing ideas from within their teams. We offer managerial and technological innovations that will improve your performance in the digital age. The future is within your grasp: let’s grab it together.

With expertise and care, our team puts its all into producing fine authentic wines. Wines that express the richness of our different soils. Jean-Marc LECLERCQ International Business Director



Cody KONDO Managing Director

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Christian Louboutin was created in 1992 when the designer opened his first boutique at 19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Paris. An artist and craftsman with a true passion for shoes, his designs are unique and instantly recognizable, thanks in part to their signature, trademarked red lacquered soles

Filippo MELCHIONNI Chief Operating Officer

Ferrari Group is a global leader providing one-stop solutions for secure logistics management of precious and luxury goods, including bullion, diamonds, gems, and jewellery, watches and art pieces.

Vivien ROUSSIE General Manager Clementine POROT Events Manager



True to the motto ‘fine dining redefined’, Le Comptoir is transforming Hong Kong’s already dynamic F&B scene one restaurant at a time. With each completely original concept, the team at Le Comptoir places great importance in the power of dynamic, art-centric interior design to create a unique vibe within each venue.

We are MediaCom, one of the world’s largest and most-awarded media agencies. In Asia Pacific, we have over 1,500 colleagues working across 20 offices, helping many leading local and multinational companies realise growth opportunities for their brands.


Yanick GIRARD General Manager

We are an international and independent pharmaceutical company governed by a non-profit foundation, with headquarters in Suresnes, France. Since opening our first laboratory in 1954, we have been committed to therapeutic progress to serve patient needs with the help of healthcare professionals. We strive to provide future generations with a world where quality healthcare is available and accessible to all.

Gilles DETANGER Chief Commercial Officer, MediaCom APAC

Alice CHOW Managing Director, MediaCom Hong Kong

Laura GORDON Business Lead APAC, MediaCom Hong Kong


VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE Vestiaire Collective is an online marketplace dedicated to pre-loved fashion.

Sun Art Retail is a leading multi-format offline food retail in China operated under two recognized banners – “Auchan” (歐尚) and “RT-Mart” (大潤發). Jean CHAUSSE Chief Financial Officer

Mark HEAP Chief Executive Officer, MediaCom APAC

Fanny MOIZANT Co-Founder & APAC VP


Amelie DIONNE-CHAREST Founding Partner & CEO



We are experts in the Hong Kong healthcare system. We offer an unbiased approach to insurance needs for individuals, families and SMEs/ companies.

Avantagents is a leading negotiation consultancy specializing in commercial negotiations involving partners from China and the rest of the world.

Jean-Baptiste DEAL Founder & Managing Director

HongKongEcho | 55



BABYMOOV Keff YIP Business Unit Director

Through engaging learning environments and a child centred pedagogy, Avendale sparks the innate curiosity in children to ensure they grow into lifelong learners.



BEE Retail is a sustainable retail expert, a one-stop solution for sustainable, healthy and responsible retail spaces. It is recognised by the main stakeholders of the industry and provide consultancy to leading retail brands and real estate developers to achieve their sustainable objectives.

Specialized in the manufacturing of promotional items in China, our core mission is to produce for our clients’ items that will be useful for their marketing campaigns.

Stanislas LEHMAN Associate Director

Maxime PRUVOST Founder & General Manager



Babymoov is a French company and in only 21 years have become a key player in the childcare market. We design, produce and market high quality products that are innovative, trendy and easy to use.

THE BEST OF CULTURE. IN SECRET. IN ONE CLICK. With our CULTURAL PASS, choose your favorite outings among the best of culture in Paris: artists meetings, private visit of exhibitions and previews, plays, concerts, movies, fast pass for museums...

After years of experience in the meat industry, we decided to combine knowledge and passion in order to source for you the very best in terms of natural meats. It is thus through a precise selection process that we Maxime GRINDLER Business Development Manager ensure the exceptional quality and traceability of all our products



We are a boutique stationery brand and design studio based in Hong Kong. The cards are letterpress printed in our own studio with heart.

Elearn2grow is providing 3 core solutions: We help you to build your highly interactive, responsive and tailor made eLearning courses via our Design and Development service.

Donna CHAN Co-Foudner & Executive Director David DAOUD Founder & CEO


Vinod MENON Director

56 | HongKongEcho

Private Office Suites: Everest Spaces offers private office suites for organisations with 2 to 10 employees. Virtual Offices: Those needing an office address without the fuss, can use Everest Virtual Office with call handling, redirect and mail management. Business support services: Company formation, accounting and IT support services are provided by us to ensure the smooth running of your business.



In partnership with HEC Paris, Columbia and Wharton, FFI delivers Executive Online Certificates: online certification programs in finance and strategy, for professionals around the world to improve their skills.


LUXE SURVEYOR LTD Luxe Surveyor Ltd for Luxe Observer™ Luxe and Phygital Digital tools dedicated to experiences in the luxury world

Founded in 2008, GEREJE Corporate Finance is a Euro-Asian M&A firm with an entrepreneurial culture providing strategic and financial advisory services, while combining sector and country expertise. Fabrice LOMBARDO Founding Managing Partner & Chairman of the Board

Virginie MORIN Founder & CEO

MESKLENN LTD Mesklenn Ltd is Hong Kong’s fine food solution. Mesklenn Ltd bring authenticity, quality and freshness of French sourced premium quality meat and seafood.

SCAEVA LTD Francois ANGEBAULT General Manager

Manufacture of high quality jewellery and watch boxes, watch winders, humidors, travel trunks and point of sale displays.

Sebastien HESRY Director

Nicolas BRINDJONC Managing Director



Consulting Company specialized in Luxury Industry offering missions on Clienteling, Customer Service and Experience, CRM, Marketing and Communication, Operations, Strategy and Business Development.

SustainAsia is a specialist advisory firm, focusing on clean energy, clean technologies and environmental infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region.

Christophe BONGARDS Chief Executive Officer


Alice BLOUD Co-Founder & Partner

TGI Monday! has been incepted in 2017 by three happy women willing to join forces to “make happiness at work the new norm not the exception”. Thanks to their complementary expertise and experiences from management, HR, event communication, marketing and executive coaching, their mission is to raise awareness and develop best practices in the happiness at work domain in Hong Kong.

HongKongEcho | 57


A COCKTAIL AT ITS PEAK FOR 2018 Once again, the French Chamber Foundation’s annual awareness-raising cocktail proved to be a great success. Companies, donors, volunteers, social workers and board members came together at the Consul General of France in Hong Kong & Macau’s residence to learn how the Foundation impacts the low-income workers in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s President Jean-Baptiste Dabadie introduced last year’s figures and latest achievements, noting: “From 35,000 meals served in 2016, we reached 42,000 this year”. With 35% of coached members who successfully found a better job last year, the Foundation is more than ever willing to push this objective in 2018. Insisting on the fact that the project has only existed for four years, Jean-Bapiste Dabadie pointed out the highly encouraging results. Lee Lee, a retiree who discovered the Mong Kok Lunch Club two years ago and has been a beneficiary ever since, then explained the supporting environment and empowerment among the local community that this initiative generates. She was followed by Thierry Neveux, Asia-Pacific Director of Moulin Roty, who highlighted the unique opportunity for managers to promote social inclusion and responsibility in Hong Kong by hiring people helped by the Foundation.

Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, Eric Berti, the Board of the Foundation and BOKSS representative with Lunch Club beneficiary Lee Lee.

An event that introduced 2018 in the most positive manner for the Foundation, committed to having a decisive impact in the months to come. We would like to warmly thank Mr Eric Berti, the Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, also all the participants who joined us for this evening and contributed to its success.

OUR ‘HUMAN’ OF THE MONTH Since mid-January, the Foundation has begun to put a spotlight on the donors, partners, beneficiaries, volunteers, social workers, board or staff members who make this project a success. Every week, meet the ‘Humans of the French Chamber Foundation’ on our Facebook page. Let’s meet Mr. Armen Ekmekdje, Former President of the French Chamber Foundation between 2014 and 2017. “I like to say that when it comes to charities, success is never a good thing – rather it is the best reason to do more. The less Hong Kong needs us, the more it means our mission has been accomplished. As an entrepreneur, my specialty is to create small and medium-size businesses from scratch. I found some similarities while running a project like this; constantly trying to convince new donors and sharing our enthusiasm. As expats, we know that we will most likely not end up here for good. But after spending years in this city, it becomes also your home somehow, the place where you raised your children. My commitment to giving back to this city has allowed me to feel as though I can look Hong Kong and its people straight in the eye.”

Mr. Armen Ekmekdje

Like our Facebook page: ‘Humans of the French Chamber Foundation’ www.facebook.com/FrenchChamberFoundation/

GOGENIE APP TRAINING We are thankful to have GoGENIE, a start-up innovative job matching app, to provide a training seminar on the utilisation of the app to Lunch Club members in Mong Kok. Co-founder, Mary Cheung, introduced her company’s app to our beneficiaries on how to easily find a job in a fast-paced environment. GoGENIE stands out by providing flexibility and accessibility to both employers and employees. Its social mission aims to help low-income groups and other disadvantaged people to find an extra income through temporary jobs, mostly in F&B and retail. The French Chamber Foundation received great feedback from the beneficiaries and we are looking forward to having other training sessions at other Clubs.

GoGENIE training at Mong Kok Lunch Club

You will have the opportunity to help the French Chamber Foundation to make a difference for low-income workers in Hong Kong at the next Gala Dinner of the French Chamber of Commerce on 1 June. All the funds raised during the evening will contribute to our actions towards the underprivileged providing them with healthy lunches, trainings and recruitment opportunities. Visit our website at: www.fcf.hk The French Chamber Foundation was established in 2015 as a subsidiary of the French Chamber and is registered in Hong Kong as a charity. It is governed by a separate Board of Directors, and solely relies on donations from corporates and individuals, including the funds raised during the French Chamber Gala Dinner, to fund its operations.

58 | HongKongEcho

THE FRENCH CHAMBER 21/F, On Hing Building, 1 On Hing Terrace, Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2523 6818


communications@fccihk.com www.fccihk.com






The views expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of The French Chamber. The editor accepts no responsibility for unsolicited material submitted.


2017: A RECORD YEAR FOR THE RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MARKET In the wake of good market performance in 2016, 2017 brought exceptional residential property figures, both in terms of the amounts attracted by this asset category and in increased prices. Price increases varied widely between regional major cities and Paris, as well as secondary cities and rural areas. Analysis from wealth management experts Banque Transatlantique follows. Dynamic Sales Volumes The real estate market was particularly fluid over the first half of 2017, since buyers feared a rise in credit rates. Their eagerness was attenuated over the second half of 2017 when they were reassured concerning financing conditions. First-time home buyers represent approximately 1/3 of buyers, except for the cities of Paris, Nice and Bordeaux. The number of transactions in the existing residential property market increased 15.50% over one year, with over 950,000 sales made up to the end of September 2017, of which 19% were in Paris and its surrounding area. In terms of the new residential property market, the latest figures from the Fédération des Promoteurs Immobiliers account for more than 150,000 reservations over the past 12, which sets 2017 apart as an exceptional year, with Pinel regime investments representing 50% of sales. Inventory has fallen to T10 months of sales, compared to 17 months in 2017 and 23 months ten years ago. Uneven Price Increases from One Region to Another The overall progression of the market across all regions amounts to 2%, with strong disparities in price changes from one city to the next: • +12 to 16% in Bordeaux: this boom is primarily attributable to the TGV effect. Bordeaux is now a 2-hour train ride from Paris. Parisians are moving there en masse and investing massively. Prices there are now close to those in Lyon. • +5 % in Paris • +4-6% in Nice, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse and Rennes • +2% maximum in some regional major cities, such as Marseille, Montpellier Lille and Strasbourg. It should be noted that the cities of Dijon, St Etienne and Le Havre were some of the few cities where prices fell.

60 | HongKongEcho

Over the years, the gap has widened between the capital, the ten largest regional major cities and their greater area, and the rest of the country. Buyers can acquire a 50.80-squaremeter apartment in Paris versus an average of 86.20 m2 outside of the Parisian region. These figures are reflected by a shortage of available properties for sale in the leading major cities. High-quality 2- and 3-bedroom family apartments in Paris, priced between €700,000 and €1.6 million, sell particularly quickly. Some existing apartments in the region sell for the same price as new units. What Changes Are Expected in 2018? Most market observers forecast real estate price increases of roughly 2%, if credit rates remain below 2% and macroeconomic conditions improve noticeably. Despite the clouds that have recently darkened the landscape – the creation of the IFI (‘wealth tax on real estate assets’), real estate income not benefiting from the flat tax, the shortterm elimination of rent controls in Paris and the potential for their re-implementation in the medium term – the real estate market’s momentum is not expected to slow down. The important factor for investor clients will primarily be to decide where to invest. Focus on Greater Paris: Will it Drive Up Prices in Some Cities? The creation of 68 new stations and the arrival of ultra-fast transportation will transform

the Parisian suburbs. Moreover, all these infrastructure projects will be boosted by the prospect of the 2024 Olympic Games, which will mostly benefit cities to the northeast, but also those southwest of Paris. In parallel with the development of transportation, the creation or development of new districts will shine a new light on cities like Clichy, close to the Parisian district of Batignolles, where the new District Court will create increased demand for rental properties. The same applies to St Ouen, which is continuing its extension towards Ile St Denis with a new district taking shape around a large park. Cities like Issy les Moulineaux, Asnières and Villejuif will become increasingly attractive thanks to a tighter public transport network. These prospects for positive change will have a knock-on effect in terms of higher prices. Is Real Estate Still a Worthwhile Investment? While it’s true that tax policy will not overly favour the real estate asset category over the next few years, real estate will nonetheless remain a privileged asset category, since it’s a vehicle for the protection of families and the only asset category which creates value through the use of credit. The residential real estate risk premium’s performance compared to government bonds is expected to remain high in 2018 and should attract investors. The additional influx of new buyers – expatriates returning to France, unemployed workers returning to the job market and foreigners – should sustain the economic activity. The continuity of Pinel regime investment over 4 years makes sense and may be used to take an interest in cities with increased economic potential. New residential construction will naturally find its place within the context of the diversification of holdings comprised of existing residential properties, since it will be a source of savings with respect to the works that existing residential properties must now undergo to meet new standards.

Hervé Guinebert International Private Banking Department, Director, Hong Kong Representative Office

Banque Transatlantique has been providing dedicated services to French expatriates for over a century. The Bank has dedicated significant resources





T: +852 2106 0391

M: +852 9380 8917

customers over time, and is the preferred partner

E: bthongkong@banquetransatlantique.com

of French professionals living abroad.

Website: https://expatries.banquetransatlantique.com

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