Hong Kong Living Influencer Awards 2020

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Editor’s Note


Managing Editor Gemma Shaw Contributing Editor Becky Love, Nicole Cooley, Nicole Slater Editorial Assistant Charmaine Ng

Design Graphic Designer Alvin Cheung, Jeramy Lee



ver the past year, we set ourselves a challenge. In Hong Kong, a city of close to eight million inhabitants, we set out to select 50 people who are truly excelling in their chosen fields, inspiring others, contributing to society and developing Hong Kong on a global platform. From legends and entrepreneurs to Olympic medallists and eco-warriors, it is no surprise that our city is a breeding ground for innovators and people breaking boundaries of what we think is possible. The selection process was tough, but we did it. This book features Hong Kong Living’s 50 people to watch in 2020. The people gracing the following pages have collectively climbed the world’s highest mountains, started campaigns to help bring an end to unjust practices and developed innovative business concepts which have been rolled out across the world. I’m proud to have personally met many of the people in this book and I have become wiser through speaking with them. As one of our influencers, Jonathan Zeman, puts it, “our role is to bring happiness to people.” Now if I’m going to be influenced by any of the eight million people in Hong Kong, his advice is a great place to start.

Events Executive Ran Chan

Sales & Marketing Director of Content Hilda Chan

Senior Partnership Manager Isamonia Chui Partnership Manager Mathew Cheung, Elaine Li


Assistant Operations Manager Charles Lau


Digital Editor Apple Lee

Publisher Tom Hilditch

Thanks to... Graham Uden, Venture Studios, ZUMA, emmanuel f. Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Elegance Printing & Book Binding Co., Ltd. Cover by Jeramy Lee

HONG KONG hongkongliving.com

Gemma Shaw, Managing Editor 3

Hong Kong Living Influencer Awards is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This book is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Hong Kong Living cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or pubishers. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.



A city of excellence Hong Kong is a hub for

entrepreneurs and start-ups, with over 2,000 start-up companies calling the city home, according to Forbes in 2017. Hong Kong is currently home to nearly 9,000 tax-exempt


and have won a total of three medals in the Olympic games; gold for sailing in Atlanta 1996, silver for table tennis in Athens 2004 and bronze for cycling in London 2012.

ranging from animal protection to those helping the homeless.

The Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment ranked Hong Kong’s

Since 2001, the city has been undergoing a greening scheme by the government, which has spread to local businesses and retailers working on a more

system 15th best in the world in 2018, beating the US and South Korea.

sustainable approach to everyday life. Health and


credit: photo by Graham Uden

sports Hongkongers excel in

is an evolving industry in the city, with over 2,500 businesses dedicated to well-being.


A painting by Zao Wou-Ki sold last year for $510 million, holding the record as the most expensive painting to sell in Hong Kong to date.


Hong Kong has more

skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world. A skyscraper is defined as a building with a height of at least 100 metres. With 1,268 of those, Hong Kong easily beats New York City (684), Dubai (523) and Tokyo (411).


There is one for every 300 people in Hong Kong, the highest per capita concentration on the planet, according to figures from the HKSAR Government. 6


Bonnae Gokson Founder of SEVVA, Ms B’s Cakery and C’est La B Founder of three stylish restaurants, creative visionary behind internationally renowned hotels and sophisticated award-winning coffee table book author, Bonnae Gokson needs no introduction. From her fashion days at The Joyce Group and Chanel to hospitality establishments, Gokson continues to surround herself with sophistication. For her, success is all about having passion. “I love what I do,” she says, “it’s my pleasure to seek what is nice and new.” Gokson adds a touch of beauty and colour to the world and lifestyle in Hong Kong. She is insistent on quality, which is why her restaurants are some of the best in the city and why her books have snapped up so many awards, earning praise from the likes of Vera Wang and Iris Apfel. This September, her flagship restaurant, SEVVA, will reopen after a three-month hiatus – better and stronger than ever, just like its founder. “My motto in life is to have respect for others and be thankful,” Gokson advises, “don’t sweat the small stuff. Freedom to do what you like is a luxury.”



Annabelle Bond Socialite, Mountaineer and Charity Campaigner

Over the last few decades, Annabelle Bond has achieved a series of feats that are nothing short of remarkable. She excelled at sport from an early age and since then has climbed Mount Everest, held the record as the fastest female climber in the world, raised millions for charity and received a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). And, she is currently an ambassador for Laureus Sport for Good, a global movement that celebrates the

power of sport, ‘to bring people together as a force for good’. The socialite, mountaineer and charity campaigner now resides in Hong Kong, where she dedicates time to her charity work as well as raising her daughter. “I just think sport is so important,” says Bond, “Nelson Mandela was the first patron of Laureus and I think his quote says it all – ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite.’” 8

dining Becoming a father has made me conscious of the way we are treating this Earth

Malcolm Wood Co-Founder and Group Managing Director of Maximal Concepts Growing up, Malcolm Wood was inspired to cook for his family and knew he would end up in hospitality and food. In 2011, he dove into the F&B industry in Hong Kong with Maximal Concepts, launching Blue - Butcher & Meat Specialist on Hollywood Road and Brickhouse, a late-night Mexican Restaurant & Bar in Central. Today, Wood has opened over 30 concepts including Mott 32, Maximal Concepts’ flagship venue; John Anthony, a sustainable Chinese restaurant; and Stockton, one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars of 2019. He is also involved in the film, wellness and extreme sport industries. “I am drawn to raising awareness about environmental issues and sustainability,” says Wood. “Becoming a father has made me conscious of the way we are treating this Earth. I want it to be better for my kids, and their kids.” Recently announced as a UN Environment ‘Mountain Hero’, and as an Adventure Athlete ambassador for sporting brand Arc’teryx, Wood continually searches for ways to make a difference, including prioritising sustainable practices in his restaurants. In 2020, he will launch his second major documentary, The Last Glaciers.



I have an amazing support system

Lauren Lin Co-Founder of PIVOT

Established in 2016, PIVOT is a niche recruitment firm with a goal to connect professional women with dynamic companies in Hong Kong. Lauren Lin is one of the masterminds behind the company, which manages over 500 candidates from a number of backgrounds including banking, human resources and creative design. Lin started in marketing at a luxury entertainment destination in Las Vegas, then moved on to her own PR consultancy and to a strategic partnerships

role for a games company, before settling in Hong Kong and starting PIVOT. “I have an amazing support system including my wonderful husband John, my inspiring business partner Kim, and my three children who keep me grounded and grateful,� says Lin, when asked about her motivation. In 2020, she hopes to maximise PIVOT’s online platform to help more women in Hong Kong find opportunities, at the same time matching companies with stellar talent. 10

entrepreneur With LKF, our role is to bring happiness to people Canadian born Jonathan Zeman came to Hong Kong when he was just two years old. In 1983, his father, Allan Zeman, became one of the original founders of the iconic Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) with the opening of restaurant and bar, California. Jonathan Zeman has been instrumental in the development of the Lan Kwai Fong Group throughout the past 18 years and assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2013. He is the creative brain and steady hand passionately guiding the brand from strength to strength. “The magic of LKF is that it can transport you. It’s evolved through the years but it still has that same energy and people gravitate towards it.” He is always thinking ahead and the LKF Group is branching out, recently opening in Chengdu with a Shenzhen location soon to come. “With LKF, our role is to bring happiness to people. To set a good example, to make Hong Kong a better place, all around.”

Jonathan Zeman CEO of Lan Kwai Fong Group


sports My passion is the intersection of mindset, resilience and performance In 2002, Alisa Camplin took home Australia’s first gold medal in female aerial skiing at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Four years later, despite having recovered from serious knee injuries just months earlier, she managed to score a bronze medal at the Turin Winter Olympics. Camplin’s remarkable journey has taken her from working multiple jobs to cover the cost of her ski training to becoming a two-time Olympic medallist. “My passion is the intersection of mindset, resilience and performance,” says the Southside resident and mother of two, “when you get those three things right, there are great results to be found.” Today, she spends her time between raising her children and helping impart a positive mindset and performance skills to people so they can improve their mental wellbeing and achieve their ultimate potential.

Alisa Camplin Aerial Skier and Olympic Gold Medallist 12


I know the battle has to be fought to keep raising awareness

Harry Chan Diver and Ghost Net Hunter Harry Chan describes himself as a “retired 66-year-old guy who likes to face new challenges”, perhaps simplifying his pastime a little too much. Instead of seeking a quiet life after retirement, Chan is at war against the killers of the ocean – ghost nets, which are deadly to marine life. Twice a month, he dives into the waters to hunt for nets that endanger both humans and animals. He began the hunt five years ago, when he discovered while diving just how many ghost nets were 13

left behind and tangled on reefs. “The tougher it is, the more I want to do it,” he says, “despite knowing I am fighting a losing battle, I know the battle has to be fought to keep raising awareness and hopefully see changes.” Chan arranges regular beach cleanups, sometimes partnering with companies, to rid the city’s waters of abandoned fishing gear. Going forward, he hopes to inspire more divers, as well as the younger generation, to take action.

Sports I dare not say I am ‘successful’ now as I believe I still have a lot to learn

Vesta Ko

Ballroom Dancer and Certified Yoga Teacher

“I dare not say I am ‘successful’ now as I believe I still have a lot to learn, and there are many people who are more ‘successful’ than I am,” says Vesta Ko. She began practising ballroom dancing when she was 15 and eventually became a professional ballroom dancer at age 20. The next 10 years of her life comprised of endless training and competitions, giving her the chance to compete with world-class dancers. Now, she spends

her time teaching ballroom dancing in Hong Kong, as well as practising and teaching yoga and fitness training. “I try to appreciate every single part of life,” she smiles, “appreciating life leads to a happier life and I hope to spread as much postive energy and happiness as possible.” In 2020, Ko will be working on growing her newly founded fitness brand, Peachy Booty.



One of Hong Kong’s first environmental non-government organisations with a focus on fashion, charity Redress retails donated designer and high-end clothing and accessories at regular pop-up events across Hong Kong. Founder and Cochair, Christina Dean describes the eco-fashion movement, “The more we work, the more we realise the huge mess the fashion industry has caused. Each one of us needs to be part of the solution, however small.” She also recently launched a spin off - The R Collective, a social impact up-cycled fashion label which creates beautiful clothes from waste materials. The ‘R’ stands for ‘rescue, reuse, reimagine’ and her team collaborates with awardwinning sustainable designers around the world. “Changing one’s shopping habits requires a deeper inner reflection. Breathe life into your closet and re-imagine clothes that you already own. When a potential urge for shopping arises, consider second hand, or clothes made from recycled fibres or up-cycled fabrics. These waste or unwanted materials can be recreated into new products that are higher in quality and environmental value.”

Each one of us needs to be part of the solution, however small

Christina Dean Founder of Redress and The R Collective



Women feel empowered when they feel great about themselves

At the young age of 14, Kim Robinson began working in a salon and trained as a hairdresser at the Australian Institute of Technology, winning the prestigious Apprentice of the Year Award. He honed these skills in Europe before moving to Hong Kong, where he cofounded Salon Esprit and later opened his own flagship salon, kimrobinson Hong Kong. His career has spanned over four decades and he has styled the hair of some of the most famous heads in the world, including the late Princess Diana, supermodels Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss, and Asian celebrities Lin Ching-hsia, Gong Li and Carina Lau Kar-Ling. Robinson believes in empowering women, “Women feel empowered when they feel great about themselves. You can actually change people completely and I’ve done it for years, I’m known for reinventing someone because I’ve changed the shape of their hairstyle, the colour, texture, and they feel empowered by it, they feel confident.” Australian-born Robinson says, “I don’t see myself living anywhere else but Hong Kong. I’ve had great opportunities here to do a lot of things and I can see more opportunity moving forward.”

Kim Robinson

Founder and Director of kimrobinson salons



Saoud Maherzi Founder and CEO of Exclusive Venue French entrepreneur Saoud Maherzi began his career in Paris where, at a young age, he managed a trendy and renowned restaurant. Soon enough, he developed an innovative and unique concept by turning artists’ lofts, galleries, penthouses and rooftops into atypical and exclusive event venues. In 2015, Maherzi decided to bring his concept to Asia and created, in Hong Kong first then in Shanghai, Exclusive Venue, the only agency providing venues ranging from private galleries and museums to seclusive villas and penthouses.”In a place where socialising is an art, there has always been a striking appeal for singular and extraordinary places,” says Maherzi. “For an event to be successful, what matters is the experience. Events cannot just be events, they must become the utmost and memorable experience of which people dream to feel and live. And Exclusive Venue is here to turn the dream into a reality.” After Hong Kong and Shanghai, Maherzi will soon develop a presence in Singapore.

credit: photo by Sophie Bonnin-Rocher 17

Events must become the utmost experience of which people dream to feel and live


I’ve used visualisation for more than 15 years to attract exactly what I want For Dr Kamilla Holst, health is of utmost importance – both for herself and her patients. Holst is a former athlete-turned-chiropractor, pregnancy specialist and author, with her own clinic in Central where she offers a range of medical services, including fertility enhancement, prenatal care and baby chiropractic. After settling in Hong Kong, Holst’s clientele has grown twofold, which she owes to the many opportunities in the city – but it may just be her commitment to growth that has brought along her success. “I’ve used visualisation techniques and meditation for more than 15 years now in order to attract exactly what I want,” she says. With multiple medical achievements and even a published book under her belt, you can be sure this doctor is one to watch out for in the coming years.

Kamilla Holst Chiropractor, Pregnancy Specialist and Author


Hong Kong has the most successful


created one of societies on Earth credit: photo by Graham Uden

— Prince Charles



Jaakko Sorsa

Group Executive Chef of GR8 Leisure Concept

There are not many places for Nordic cuisine in Hong Kong, but FINDS, located in Tsim Sha Tsui, is known for its premium quality food served in a casual dining setting. Group Executive Chef of GR8 Leisure Concept, Jaakko Sorsa has been with FINDS since day one, sharing the best of Scandinavian lifestyle and contemporary Northern European cuisine. Having played many roles in his life – including a peacekeeper for the United Nations in South Lebanon – the chef and father of two is now in his fifteenth year at FINDS. “To break through, creativity is key, especially when the pace of the city gets faster and competitors arise,” he says. In 2020, Sorsa will be introducing his award-winning gin to Hong Kong, the Arctic Blue Gin. “We managed to capture the essence of unique Finnish nature in a neverbefore-seen way,” he says, “you can really experience the moment of morning dew in a wild bilberry forest by tasting our gin.”



Wildlife conservation is a marathon, not a sprint

Alex Hofford

Photojournalist and Campaign Manager of WildAid

Alex Hofford stumbled into his current role as campaign manager for WildAid almost by fate – when he settled into Hong Kong in 1998, he noticed the abundance of dried seafood, particularly shark fin, on the streets of Sheung Wan, which struck him uneasy. He went on to document the brutal supply chain and eventually began working with WildAid, and has been involved in protecting endangered species from consumption since. While he has celebrated success – WildAid’s campaign pushed the Hong Kong

government to ban ivory in 2018 – he also understands that work in the conservation field is not easy. “I always remind myself that wildlife conservation is a marathon, not a sprint,” he says, choosing instead to take a slower but steadier approach to his work. Hofford is currently working on a new WildAid campaign to push Hong Kong’s Traditional Chinese Medicine trade into becoming more sustainable by removing all products from endangered species from the practice. 22


When things get difficult, I just put on my fly mask and focus on what I do best Denise Ho is a modest fashion stylist, who has worked in the fashion industry for many years, from founding her own knitwear brand, Knotti to directing new concept collections for The R Collective, she loves to collaborate and puts her ego aside when designing. Years of relentless pursuit has taught her how to work with talented people of all professions and how to learn from criticism. “When things get difficult, I just put on my fly mask and focus on what I do best,� she says. Currently, Ho is focusing on reducing textile waste with The R Collective and in talks to incorporate this into Knotti’s new line.

Denise Ho Fashion Director at The R Collective



I perform better when I am under pressure

Alex Bellafronte Operations Director of ZUMA - Asia

Alex Bellafronte’s road to success has brought him many opportunities. He has dipped into communication, music, sports and nightlife, but hospitality has always been a guiding thread for him. His experience in the F&B industry began when he was 14, working the odd job in restaurants during summer, before moving to London in his late 20s to work for Aubaine and later, Gordon Ramsay. Today, he is in charge of Asia operations at contemporary Japanese

izakaya, ZUMA in Hong Kong. It is a lot of responsibility but a challenge he enjoys taking on. “I love to be busy, I perform better when I am under pressure, so I try to have a packed day,” he says, “gym, emails, meetings and working hard with the ZUMA team to perfection.” In 2020, he aims to continue leading his team to deliver the best experience for ZUMA’s guests, “new menus, great cocktails and new events will be rocking 2020!” 24

entrepreneur I hope to change people’s misconceptions about wills, especially in Eastern culture

Amy Kwan Founder of Good Wills Hong Kong Amy Kwan’s journey to founding a will writing company began with the passing of her mother, when she realised the importance of having a will. After 10 years working in the legal sector as a lawyer in Australia and Hong Kong, she decided to branch out on her own, establishing Good Wills in 2018. Her goal and passion is to promote and raise awareness of will writing in Hong Kong – it should be a necessity regardless of age that everyone deserves to have. “I hope to change people’s misconceptions about wills, especially in Eastern culture, where writing a will is generally perceived to be only necessary for the elderly or the wealthy,” Kwan says. In 2020, she hopes to expand her team to accommodate the increasing business that is coming through.



The main motto for 2020 is more clarity Nayla Ventura’s road to success has been a winding one. “It started with the purpose of letting parents transform their children’s drawings into handmade custom rugs. From there it took on a life of its own receiving attention from artists and interior designers.” It wasn’t always simple. “I started the business without a clear goal in mind besides helping people have more personal homes. Through the process I have defined our vision and purpose very clearly and it is wonderful to see how it takes shape.” There’s no doubt Ventura’s vision will have her rolling out more carpets in 2020. “Our team will grow and we have some super interesting projects with museums and private customers. Our three divisions will be clearly defined, internally, so that our private customers, artists and interior designers can be assisted in the most tailored way. The main motto for 2020 is more clarity.”

Nayla Ventura Founder and CEO of Rug Your Life 26


I’m proud that we have made history in the Hong Kong insurance industry As CEO of Blue, Charles Hung is responsible for leading and managing business strategies, with a vision to create the best insurance solutions for customers. Throughout his career, be it frontline or backend, senior or junior - Hung believes he has always carried a mindset to serve and grow the business. A mindset that has served each business well and helped build the success of Blue to where it is today - the first digital life insurer in Hong Kong. “This whole journey was exciting and fruitful for me. And I’m proud that we have made history in the Hong Kong insurance industry.” Even so, between all of his success his family has remained his top priority, “I love to spend time with my wife and my two five-year-old twins. I’m always on, always available, and always committed to my family.” So, what’s in store for 2020? “To establish Blue as the leading digital life insurer in Hong Kong.” And with a mindset like Hung’s anything is possible.

Charles Hung CEO of Blue (Aviva Life Insurance Co. Ltd.) 27


We keep working on on our brand, one customer at a time

Vivien So Founder of Rising Lotus

Creating her own brand has been Vivien So’s dream since she was young. Three years ago, this was realised when she started Rising Lotus, a women’s activewear label. Over time, the brand has built up a steady stream of customers, all clambering to purchase the colourful and vibrant pieces. It was a challenge, as she was simultaneously running the business and studying for a master’s degree at SCAD Hong Kong, but So deems this as one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. “I learned that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint,” she says, “I understand that Rising Lotus won’t become the hottest activewear brand overnight, but we can keep working on that little by little, one customer at a time.” So is currently leading her brand into the Chinese market, working with microinfluencers on strategic social media campaigns and will be opening a XiaoHongShu store in 2020.


arts In 2007, Andrea Fessler saw Hong Kong as the land of opportunity. “If one has an idea for a venture - be it a business or a nonprofit - one can make a dream into reality.” Fessler met a demand for classical music concerts with the creation of Premiere Performances. They began with four concerts per year, growing to 100 concerts and events which now reach over 30,000 people annually. This growth has been in part supported by the Hong Kong government; since 2012, they have received a matching grant from the government which matches any money raised by 150 percent. “Experiencing concerts, meeting amazing artists, and receiving positive feedback gives me the strength to persist in the face of adversity and helps me to overcome obstacles put before me,” she explains, “work-life balance is hard for everyone but my three children are always my number one priority.”

Andrea Fessler Founder of Premiere Performances


Work-life balance is hard for everyone but my three children are always my number one priority

dining I believe that wine is for pleasure and the Italian art of living is compatible with Asian values

J.C. Viens Founder of Grande Passione J.C. Viens labels himself as a gourmand and a storyteller, whose day involves wine tastings, speaking live on radio, educating others at seminars and running his wine website, Grande Passione. At just 25 years old, Viens established his first company in Hong Kong, and for the past 26 years, has been working as an entrepreneur in the export sector and as an expert in wine communications. After achieving a wealth of experiences and certifications – including the WSET Diploma Level 4 (Merit) and a Cavaliere dell’Ordine

della Stella d’Italia, he has settled on communicating the philosophy of wine with others. “Today, it is my intense desire to see Italian wines get the respect they so deserve in the region,” he says, “in Italy, wine is more than a mere beverage, it is the ultimate expression of the Italian lifestyle.” Going forward, he hopes to expand his reach to an even larger group of wine lovers in Hong Kong. “I believe that wine is for pleasure and the Italian art of living is compatible with Asian values,” he says. 30


Karishma Sakhrani

Interior Designer and Founder of IStyle

I’ve put in the hours to get the kind of appreciation I am getting today IStyle is a bespoke interior design studio conceptualised by Hong Kong-based designer Karishma (Kay) Sakhrani. The studio is known for creating luxury spaces that are eclectic yet extravagantly simple. Sakhrani’s journey in becoming an interior designer, however, was not planned. When she moved into her new apartment in Hong Kong, she renovated the whole place and friends soon approached her to help with their own apartments. Ten years later, Sakhrani is running her own design studio. “I’m thankful for the opportunities that have come my way,” she says, “I’ve had a good support system and put in the hours to get the kind of appreciation I am getting today.” Sakhrani is excited for the upcoming trends of 2020: sustainability, textile art, vertical gardening, neon colours and metal finishings – all of which she has already begun to incorporate into her new designs.



Pavleta Petrova Image Consultant and Founder of Stylish Sisters

Style is the delicate balance between evolving fashion trends and everlasting staples From a young age, Pavleta Petrova was attracted to striking outfits and style. It had been rooted in her family for three generations; she remembers her grandmother and her four sisters as being confident, powerful and elegant, with meticulous attention to detail. Her image consulting brand, Stylish Sisters pays homage to these five ladies. Over the years, her signature styling and wardrobe editing sessions have empowered women with timeless style and elegance and is receiving recognition not only from her individual clients, but also from fashion brands. She now owns the PR and event organising company ShoppingHongKong and the two businesses coexist harmoniously, complementing one another whilst showcasing high quality niche products to all her individual clients. Forever an ambassador of elegance, class and sophistication, Petrova states, “style is the delicate balance between the ever evolving fashion trends and the everlasting wardrobe staples.�



You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you — Nury Vittachi



Keep learning and keep asking with an open mind, the Universe always surprises us

Letao Wang Founder and Spiritual Counsellor of The Healing Kingdom Founder of The Healing Kingdom, Letao Wang did not plan his path – he had been confused about life when one fateful meeting with a spiritual counsellor changed everything. “Through his guidance and my own increasing self-awareness, I realised my value in the world is to bring healing and understanding to people,” says Wang, “it is this sense of purpose and the meaning of life that keeps propelling me forward.” As the sole spiritual counsellor and astrologer of The 35

Healing Kingdom, Wang spends his day-to-day consulting people in all areas of life, including careers, finance, romantic relationships and family. On a busy day, he helps companies with readings at large events. He credits the ‘bubbling energy’ of Hong Kong for pushing him and his clients to strive for more and find empowerment. “Keep learning and keep asking with an open mind. The Universe always surprises us,” he smiles. Look out for Wang’s astrology book coming in 2020.

charity Now more than ever, Hong Kong needs positive ways for people to connect and help one another

Sue Toomey Executive Director of HandsOn Hong Kong From advertising and marketing roles in the US, to running a small business in India, to leading global events for The Economist in Hong Kong, Sue Toomey has done it all. Now, as the Executive Director of HandsOn Hong Kong, Toomey harbours her passion for social issues to focus on leading her team to mobilise and empower the local community to volunteer. She credits much of her success to the people around her. “Hong Kong is uniquely wired to allow people to make connections,” she says, “living and working here has given me a vast network of contacts who have significantly supported our work at HandsOn.” Right now, she is working on launching a new multi-language app to make volunteering even more accessible. “Now more than ever, Hong Kong needs positive ways for people to connect and help one another.”


charity Success to one person is not the same for another For Jo Soo-Tang, there is not a defined road to success. “Success to one person is not the same for another. It is more important to be happy and to be passionate about what you do,” she states. As a philanthropist and a mother of three, life can get very hectic. “I usually wake up at 6am on weekdays and work until 2.30pm. I then pick the kids up after school. I am always on the go.” It’s the Hong Kong pace that allows SooTang to achieve so much, “it allows you to do more and energy levels are high as a result.” Soo-Tang has no desire to slow down too much just yet, “I am planning a Christmas promotion for Splash Foundation and I am currently taking interior design and Japanese classes. I want to spend more time with my children and eventually learn how to bake properly.” With that energy, we are sure we will see a lot more of Soo-Tang in 2020.

Jo Soo-Tang Honarary Chairman, Board of Governors, HKAHF (Stubbs Road) Board Member, Splash Foundation Development Committee, WWF HK 37

charity We believe that everyone deserves a second chance

Alia Eyres CEO of Mother’s Choice

Alia Eyres’ journey to becoming the CEO of Mother’s Choice in 2012 was a long and circuitous one – at just nine years old, she volunteered at the charitable organisation founded by her parents, before studying to become a corporate lawyer. She never expected to return to Mother’s Choice full time, but that’s exactly what happened. Today, Eyres spends her time working with her team to serve local children, youth and families in the city. “At Mother’s

Choice, our mission is to join hands with the community to give hope and change life stories,” she smiles, “we believe that there is no such thing as a hopeless case and that everyone deserves a second chance.” In 2020, she hopes to inspire more families to help children who need a safe and loving home through a new innovative foster care programme, Project Bridge, which already has hundreds of children on the waitlist. 38


Sport is a great and safe way to connect people together Organised by the LGBT community, the Gay Games was founded in 1982 and is a worldwide sport and cultural festival held every four years to promote the equality of human beings. The previous Gay Games were held in Paris with 10,000 participants, and the upcoming 2022 Gay Games will take place in Hong Kong, expecting to reach 15,000 participants. At the helm of the Hong Kong team is Dennis Philipse, who moved to the city in 2009 and worked on the bid process against 11 other cities to bring Hong Kong the rights to host the Gay Games for the first time. When he is not working his day job, Philipse dedicates all his time to the games. “Sport is a great and safe way to connect people together regardless of who you are and what you look like,” he says, “the purpose of the Gay Games is to educate and connect people together through sports, arts and cultural events.”

Dennis Philipse Founder of Gay Games Hong Kong



Nixon Cheung Head of Commercial and Brand of Hong Kong Tramways

It’s the

never-give-up spirit that matters

The iconic Hong Kong Tramways was founded in 1904 with an initial fleet of 26 tramcars. Today, it is the world’s largest double-deck tram fleet still in operation, with 164 tramcars and an average of 200,000 passengers daily. Good governance begins at the top - Nixon Cheung, who leads the Commercial and Brand department, believes in brand rejuvenation with simple magic. “As a local, it’s my pleasure to contribute to this iconic Hong Kong transportation, to bring a taste of the brand into daily lives and to make it financially sustainable for another 100 years and more.” Cheung shows he has the means to do so; at the tender age of 23, he led a billion-dollar project in China, oversaw an advertising subsidiary just three years later and recently earned an MBA at HKUST with an award in academic excellence. Cheung explains, “Above all, it’s the never-give-up spirit that matters. It determines how far a person can go during adversity and provides perpetual energy for me to exceed expectations.”


entrepreneur It’s about having the humility and self-reflection to keep constantly learning

Wendy Siu Founder of Heather & March Heather & March celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year. The company, a pioneer in introducing the French lifestyle to Hong Kong, is a refined retailer specialising in high-end imported French and European homeware products. At the helm of the company is Wendy Siu, who founded Heather & March in 1998 and still leads the team today. Siu’s clients include the likes of the Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental and Hong Kong Land, the first of which she hosted multiple successful gastronomic and lifestyle classes with. When asked about her road to success, Siu emphasises that there are no shortcuts. “It’s about having the humility and self-reflection to keep a curious mind and an open heart to constantly learn, work hard and never stop building up your skills and knowledge,” she says. And indeed, it is this work ethic and motivation that has led Heather & March to where it is today.


sports The pursuit of excellence helps us improve the quality of our service

Samantha Sin Founder of One Yoga

Samantha Sin started as a freelance yoga teacher a few years ago. Fast track to today, and she has five popular studios under the brands One Yoga and Samantha Yoga. She credits her success to staying positive and having passion and perseverance, always making sure to say ‘yes’ to what really matters to her. Being in Hong Kong, a city known for its efficiency, has also greatly helped Sin grow her business. “Our clients demand high quality and efficient service from us and this is what motivates me to do better,” she says, “the consistent pursuit of excellence helps us improve the quality of our service.” Indeed, One Yoga is growing at a phenomenal pace – Sin is currently working on expanding the brand to more locations in 2020, to offer yogis and teachers more options to practice and interact with each other.



Jill Robinson Founder and CEO of Animals Asia Foundation

The bears are my inspiration, both those we have rescued and those still waiting for their freedom Jill Robinson had been working in animal welfare since 1985, but it was a chance visit to a bear bile farm in China in 1993 that changed her life. What she witnessed could only be described as a living hell for bears – confined in tiny cages with injuries and mutilations to their bodies, Robinson watched helplessly. That moment was life-changing and the start of Animals Asia, an organisation that is now ending the industry responsible for thousands of bears suffering across Asia. To date, Animals Asia’s two sanctuaries in China and Vietnam have rescued over 600 bears. “The bears are my inspiration,”says Robinson, “both those that are rescued and those still waiting on the farms for their freedom.” And 2020 will only be better; it’s the year the Vietnamese government has promised to end bear bile farming. “It’s impossible to express the satisfaction and joy we all feel being on the home run to fulfilling the goal for which we were founded,” says Robinson, “not many NGO’s can say that!”



Vincent Mui


We are continuing what we’ve believed in since day one

Located on the gravelly streets of Sai Ying Pun, the bold, cargo container-like exterior of TEST KITCHEN is home to an innovative pop-up dining concept from Hong Kong-born Vincent Mui. For Mui, the road to success is a constant learning curve. He studied culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York before creating TEST KITCHEN. After four and a half years and more than 50 pop-ups from over a hundred chefs around the world, he remains true to his values. “We at Test Kitchen are

continuing what we’ve believed in since day one,” he says, “we started with a dream to provide the best platform for passionate chefs around the world to cook their food and share their stories. At that time, the idea of pop-ups was pretty foreign to most people, but I’m glad we pushed on with it. The moment we saw two different groups sat together at a recent pop-up, only to return to the next as friends, really put a smile on our faces.”



Janet Nield Chan Meditation Teacher at Hong Kong Qingyang Meditation Hall

There is an area in the human brain that is reserved for the use of the meditative state The concepts of total well-being and personal growth have always fascinated Janet Nield Chan, who believes they are important in shaping a happy, healthy and meaningful life. Her fascination led her to the Qingyang meditation method, teaching Chan to rise up to challenges in life and see hardship and suffering from a different perspective. “There is an area in the human brain,” she believes, “that is reserved for the use of the meditative state, through which our potentials can be released and wisdom realised.” In 45

a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, which the meditation teacher describes as a “fast-moving torrent”, Chan has found that Qingyang meditation helps her remain grounded. She continues to teach at Hong Kong Qingyang Meditation Hall, while working with different community groups to raise awareness on meditation practice as a way of living. “There is something for everybody in meditation,” she smiles.


Every time I meet someone who cares enough to make changes, I am inspired

Dana Winograd Director of Operations at Plastic Free Seas Plastic Free Seas is a Hong Kong-based environmental charity dedicated to advocating change in the way we use plastics in society. Dana Winograd, Director of Operations, has lived in Hong Kong for almost 25 years and runs Plastic Free Seas, focusing on educating children on the issue of plastic marine pollution. “The best part of what I do is the interaction with students,” she says, “hearing their questions, their solutions and their optimism for the future.” Winograd loves Hong Kong for its hiking trails and mountains that

reach right down to the sea – but she recognises that in order for them to stay as pristine as they are, changes need to be made. “Every time I meet someone new, young or old, who cares about this issue enough to make changes in their personal behaviour and to take action around them, I am inspired,” she says. In 2020, she will lead Plastic Free Seas to reach more students in the local school system and create a new citizen science research project to further engage with the public. 46

Give Hong Kong to an Artist.

He can use it. It can be poetised. 47

— Baris Gencel 48


Neil Raymond CEO of Pacific Prime

You’re going to get a lot of ‘Nos’; the trick is to turn the ‘Nos’ into a ‘Yes’

Neil Raymond started his insurance brokerage in a tiny apartment in Lan Kwai Fong, or more specifically - his bedroom. Fast forward 20 years and his company now has 10 offices around the globe with over 500 staff. “Our business model is truly unique and hard to copy, so I think we have a lot of potential to continue flourishing and developing.” Raymond’s success hasn’t come without its challenges, “success doesn’t happen overnight. Things 49

are harder and take longer than you imagined. You’re going to get a lot of ‘Nos’; the trick here is to turn the ‘Nos’ into a ‘Yes’.” By doing so, no doubt Pacific Prime will continue to flourish. “My company has grown significantly over the past few years with new offices in the UK, US, and Mexico. In 2020, Pacific Prime will continue to expand and develop its presence worldwide as a global insurance brokerage and employee benefits specialist.”

arts There is limitless room for creativity and inspiration in the progressive art industry Sharlane Foo first stepped into the art scene as an intern in a museum in Singapore, which eventually led to the opportunity to work at Opera Gallery in Hong Kong, a city that has always amazed her with its dynamism. As a gallerist, no two days are the same for Foo. Tasks are unpredictable at times, in between curating exhibitions and regional projects, but Foo stays committed as she believes that unpredictability keeps things fresh. “I am learning every day, and I believe there is limitless room for creativity and inspiration in the progressive art industry,” she says. For those looking to get into the art world, Foo emphasises perseverance and dedication is key. She encourages young ones to take an internship, network and hone their interpersonal skills. Foo has longterm plans to work with more institutions and museums across borders to bring the gallery’s top exhibitions into major cities in Asia. “It’s my mission to present distinctive artworks that are on the pulse of the market. So stay tuned!”

Sharlane Foo Gallery Director of Opera Gallery Hong Kong 50

entrepreneur Understanding the Hong Kong local culture was the key

Reeve Kwan Co-Founder of GoGoVan Reeve Kwan is well aware of his achievements. The CoFounder of GoGoVan was named one of the “30 Under 30 Asia: Manufacturing & Energy” by Forbes magazine in 2016 and bestowed Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Sing Tao Group’s “2017 Leader of the Year” award. Since its launch in 2013, GoGoVan has disrupted the logistics services in over 300 cities across six regions in Asia. Kwan credits his home city to his success. “Understanding the Hong Kong local culture was the key to launching GoGoVan,” he says, “I would not have been able to come up with this idea had I not grown up here while I was trying to get a van myself.” The entrepreneur is constantly working on improving GoGoVan’s services. In 2020, he will be expanding to more regions and exploring further benefits for their drivers, with gasoline discounts, vehicle maintenance plans and more.



With a bachelor’s degree in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University and a Master’s in Architecture from MIT, Britta Butler was set to be a star from the get-go. From working at a Boston firm that specialised in building affordable housing, she moved to Hong Kong as a trailing spouse 13 years ago and founded B Squared Design in 2014. “While I draw from design classics, they will always be in combination with new technologies, materials, and preferably sustainable.” The journey hasn’t been all smooth sailing. “I am a single mom of two, so it hasn’t been easy to give both my children and the business the attention they deserve. Any woman, who can juggle multiple responsibilities is an inspiration in my book,” she says. In 2020, Butler states, “we will continue to grow B Squared Design, with projects in Asia and beyond. We are also aiming to branch out into restaurant design.” Watch this space.

Britta Butler

Any woman, who can juggle multiple responsibilities is an inspiration in my book

Founder and Principal Designer of B Squared Design 52


Emma Pike Founder of Farmer’s Market

You need to be thick-skinned, have dedication, drive and love what you do All Emma Pike ever wanted as a young girl was to have her own business. She had her first job in Australia at the age of 12, left school at 15 and had her first business by 17. Fast forward to 2005, Pike moved to Hong Kong and started an IT company, in 2016, she launched Farmer’s Market, an online butcher providing fresh wholesome food to families at an affordable price. It’s her tenacity and passion for what she does that keeps her going strong, “as an entrepreneur you need to be thick-skinned, have dedication, drive and love what you do, if you don’t have these things then it will be extremely tough in the market.” With such determination, Pike looks set to achieve anything she sets her mind to. “I guess you can call me a workaholic, I love working, I love what I do and I think I provide a great service, but hearing positive feedback from my customers is a massive drive to go further.”


charity Focus on the positive, that’s what I do when things get tough Animal lover Yvonne Ang is one of the directors at Private i Concept Store, a store which provides both beauty and pet services under one roof. Ang is also a dedicated volunteer at Lifelong Animal Protection Charity (LAP). The mother of two is cool, collected and super organised – she balances her time between raising her children, running her business and aiding the dog adoption process at LAP. “Focus on the positive,” Ang says, “that’s what I do when things get tough.” In order to succeed, Ang is committed to using creativity and action. She views the entrepreneurial life as one that focuses around creating something new that is unheard of and building it from scratch, and Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world in which to do that. So, fuelled by her passion for helping animals, she is currently developing a new brand called Scarlette & Pam Homemade Organic Treats with the profits going into the Scarlette & Pam Foundation to support abandoned multi breeds in need.

Yvonne Ang Director at Private i Concept Store 54


You normally get to learn the most during the toughest times

Dominic Law Co-Founder of FeedMe Guru Online platform FeedMe Guru provides users with access to memorable dining experiences and exclusive tasting menus at top restaurants in Hong Kong. While getting his MBA degree in the States, Co-Founder Dominic Law was influenced by the entrepreneurial spirit of his classmates and decided to start FeedMe Guru to pursue his passion for food. “I have always treated my entrepreneurial journey as a learning process. You normally get to learn the most during the toughest times,” he says, “lifelong learning is the only way to maintain a long-term competitive advantage.” By compartmentalising his day and creating a to-do list before he goes to sleep each night, Law wakes up ready to start the day. He views Hong Kong as a food capital of the world; a great place to start a food-related business with a diverse user base, making it a one-of-a-kind dining destination for foodies.



Trailblazer Charlz Ng is making a big impact on Hong Kong’s health and wellness sector. He began his career in organising nightlife and music events, but soon realised the toll of many late nights and was motivated to co-found Hybrid Group and boutique gym, House of Fitness. In its fifth year, Hybrid Group inspires others towards healthier lifestyle choices through leading industry events, including the global craze Spartan Race and Hong Kong’s largest health and wellness festival, IRIS: Your Escape. “Just keep going. As a decision-maker, you’ve got to be careful but also know how to strike a balance between taking educated risks and taking action. Experiment, adapt and innovate through listening closely to your customers.” Ng also advocates for LGBTQ rights and awareness, holding the 2018 position of Director of Events and Ceremony for Hong Kong’s successful bid to host the 11th Gay Games in 2022.

Charlz Ng

Experiment, adapt and innovate through listening closely to your customers

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Hybrid Group and Co-Founder of House Of Fitness



Hong Kong has a dynamic and inspiring vibe

Kajal Naina started as a jewellery designer in Singapore just two years ago. After working as a dentist for ten years, she went on to obtain professional qualifications in jewellery making, before moving to Hong Kong. “Hong Kong has a dynamic and inspiring vibe,” says Naina, “my first priority always has been and always will be my family. But It’s important for me to be a professional, to have the freedom to do what I want to. When you start your own business you will definitely be putting in more hours than ever before.” As well as growing the KN collection of meaningful fine jewellery, Naina is expanding the KN brand to include new exquisite handpainted silk scarves which echo the KN philosophy of bringing beauty and meaning to the wearer. 2020 will see the completion of Naina’s personal memoir watch this space.

Kajal Naina Jewellery Designer and Founder of brand, Kajal Naina 57

entrepreneur Every day I’m passionate about what I do and I’m proud of my team Born in Paris, with a French Vietnamese cultural background, Jade Leroy has grown up with a deep understanding of heritage and aesthetic codes. “My ultimate refuge is speaking with my Vietnamese grandma, who is 95 and lives in Paris. She is my secret mentor. I am in eternal admiration of her life journey.” Ten years ago in Paris, Leroy opened boutique agency LES GENS PARIS and gradually realised that her main market was in Asia. She brought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong and that was the start of LES GENS ASIA. “I like the density and intensity of life in Hong Kong, it’s a unique combination of people, business, nature and travelling.” Leroy’s dynamic and multi-cultural team now have a solid relationship with international brands across Asia. “I work long hours but I never feel frustrated, every day I’m passionate about what I do and proud of my team.” Leroy is excited about 2020, seeing it as “the year for sophisticated consumer experiences in every single touch point whether it’s in digital, social, retail or events.”

Jade Leroy Co-Founding Partner of LES GENS PARIS and Founder of LES GENS ASIA


education I enjoy these challenges because I always learn something from them

Selina Kong Founder of The Big Things For Selina Kong, Hong Kong truly inspired her business, The Big Things. “I wanted to offer families a place where they could experience nature in an indoor playground. Hong Kong can sometimes be a hectic city, so I wanted to create a relaxing space for the whole family to enjoy.” And that’s exactly what she created, with persistence, dedication and a sprinkle of inspiration. And when the going gets tough, Kong sees it as a problem to be solved and says, “I enjoy these challenges because I always learn something from them.” In 2020 and beyond, Kong will continue to learn and grow. “We are going to implement some Finnish education programs into The Big Things. In addition, we will launch our cooking studio based on a famous cooking show.” Look out, this kitchen is about to get hotter.


wellness The future of healthcare should be about prevention and optimising health Candice Chan began with a clear mission and vision when she joined LifeHub, a wellness centre offering doctor-designed products and services that address common lifestyle conditions like stress, fatigue and poor sleep. Even so, being Managing Director of LifeHub hasn’t always been easy. She explains, “reaching a work-life balance is one of my constant struggles. I love my work too much that I see it as part of my ‘life’. However, it’s not fair to the people around me. I now try to set time slots and routine to balance time for my family, work, self-improvement, and social life.” Something that is proving to work well for Chan and assist in making the future vision of LifeHub a reality. She continues, “we are building a movement to empower people to take greater agency over their health. The future of healthcare should be about prevention and optimising health. In 2020, we will be expanding our wellcare centres both in Hong Kong and China. We are determined to make taking care of yourself feel easy and fun, and something that can be done even with a busy work schedule.”

Candice Chan

Co-Founder and Managing Director of LifeHub



I find people here to be very generous with their time, knowledge and money Since 2008, Box of Hope has been providing educational gifts to underprivileged children in Hong Kong and Asia, donated by local school children and local organisations. Sian Taylor was propelled into taking over the charity when the founder left Hong Kong three years ago. For her, running the charity was, and still is, a steep learning curve – but the experience is worth it, she maintains. “The smile on a child’s face when they open the lid of a box lovingly put together makes all the hard work worthwhile,” she smiles. Being in Hong Kong has played a key part in the success of Box of Hope. “I find people are very generous with their time, knowledge and money,” says Taylor. In 2020, Taylor plans to lead Box of Hope to new heights with a focus on reducing plastic and waste.

Sian Taylor Director at Box of Hope



It’s a real honour and privilege to represent Hong Kong Vivian Kong is more than well-known in the sports industry in Hong Kong. The local fencer has a wealth of achievements under her belt – most notably, she competed in the women’s épée event at the 2016 Summer Olympics and became the first Hong Kong fencer to win a World Cup title in Havana, Cuba. Just this March, she made history, beating the reigning world champion, Mara Navarria, for the top spot in the women’s épée. “It’s a real honour and privilege to represent Hong Kong,” she says, “we’re a small place but fencing gets so much support and I’m so lucky to have the best coaches and medical staff to help me achieve my dreams.” Kong has a bright future in store – in the following year alone, she has multiple events awaiting her including the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. In the meantime, she is currently taking some time off to recover from ACL surgery, but she’ll be up and fencing again in no time!

Vivian Kong Award-winning Fencer 62

When I went to Hong Kong, I knew at once I wanted to write a story set there — Paul Theroux 63




Bonnae Gokson



Annabelle Bond

Malcolm Wood



Lauren Lin

Jonathan Zeman



Alisa Camplin

Harry Chan



Vesta Ko

Christina Dean



Kim Robinson

Saoud Maherzi



Kamilla Holst

Jaakko Sorsa



Alex Hofford

Denise Ho



Alex Bellafronte

Amy Kwan



Nayla Ventura

Charles Hung



Vivien So

Andrea Fessler



J.C. Viens

Karishma Sakhrani



Pavleta Petrova

Letao Wang



Sue Toomey

Jo Soo-Tang



Alia Eyres

Dennis Philipse



Nixon Cheung

Wendy Siu



Samantha Sin

Jill Robinson



Vincent Mui

Janet Nield Chan



Dana Winograd

Neil Raymond



Sharlane Foo

Reeve Kwan



Britta Butler

Emma Pike



Yvonne Ang

Dominic Law



Charlz Ng

Kajal Naina



Jade Leroy

Selina Kong



Candice Chan

Sian Taylor



Vivian Kong

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