Life in Hong Kong - an all together more positive environment

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Posted by APM on 19th May 2010

This month our corporate rep, Kevin Parry, of Cogenic provides an interesting alternative viewpoint from Hong Kong, where he is lucky enough to be engaged in project work at the moment. Kevin is very interested in meeting fellow professionals during his stay as well as to make presentations on the subject of project and programme management to suitable groups.

Kevin is a Programme Director and Consultant, having held programme director roles in global telecommunications businesses and healthcare. He is a regular writer, and was a contributor to the APMs guides on Project Governance and Portfolio Management. He is also a member of the Programme Management SIG.

Hong Kong is essentially a trading city (these days a Special Administrative Region) in China which has not lost its long tradition of fast moving, adapting and risk-taking since the handover from British rule back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. The overall Chinese economy, if you believe the official statistics, is growing fast. 11.7% in the last quarter according to the South China Morning Post and the evidence is here of deal-making everywhere.

Hong Kong people are hard working (an average of 44.5 hours per week) and are famous gamblers, and one aspect of the hard work and willingness to take a risk for money is that people are very resilient in the face of losses, simply coming back to the table to bet again The feeling about the future is positive; Hong Kong has some of the highest property prices in the world as a result of the rising levels of wealth and investment here. It is the main south China trading hub with the rest of the world and a knowledge centre for Chinese businesses, with a reputation for innovation and sophisticated tastes.

The excellent transportation systems make it easy to buy and sell services, goods and financial instruments. The ready availability of capital for investment; from Angel investors to corporate banks, also encourages new ventures expansion and growth. Income tax is 18% at the top rate here and most people only pay 15%. This means that far more of their salaries are disposable income than in the UK and translates into both personal investments and consumption of all kinds of products and services.

The business environment is also encouraged by the number of private clubs here, almost every business person belongs to one of more, which create a sense of a small and integrated community in which personal relationships count for more than contacts and purchasing portals. Here if you are trusted you can do business which is a contrast with the lack of trust sometimes evident in the UK business environment in which procurement is increasingly about price and little else. This must surely lead to a deflationary environment and will tend to make postponing investment the logical choice.

Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures, ideas and influences. From Canada and the US to Japan, Singapore and Europe people, technology and ideas circulate freely, supported by advanced communications networks and fully integrated public transport systems. So is this a kind of Utopia? No, of course not. Hong Kong has its problems like everywhere else, but is striking when you arrive here is the can-do attitude; and if thats not a competitive advantage, I dont know what is.

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