Profile: AustCham Hong Kong & Macau: Celebrating 25 years
AustCham Hong Kong & Macau indicates a new direction in developing stronger advocacy for its members as it celebrates 25 years, writes Sophie Loras.
Ian Robinson first arrived in Hong Kong from Sydney in 1980 on a two-month project with Arthur Young to assist in the liquidation of an asset rich but litigation riddled Hong Kong company. So successful was the outcome, he was quickly sent back to Hong Kong to work on more insolvency projects.
Now, 32 years later, and the director of his own business, Robinson Management Ltd, Mr Robinson remains based out of Hong Kong.
He is one of an estimated 12,000 Australians currently residing in Hong Kong and he will be one of almost 1200 members who will help celebrate the 25th anniversary of AustCham Hong Kong and Macau over the next 12 months.
As a founder (his membership number is number two), Mr Robinson has fond memories of the Chamber’s early history – beginning as a luncheon club with a bar on Icehouse Street and later becoming the I Club, until the group decided to form a chamber with the support of the Australian Consulate in 1987.
Today, AustCham Hong Kong and Macau is the second largest of 27 international chambers of commerce in Hong Kong and is well respected within Hong Kong, renowned for the active and enthusiastic people who make up its membership.
Mr Robinson says a key highlight was, and continues to be, the chamber’s annual Rugby 7s lunch, usually held on the Thursday before the tournament where the Australian community sits down to lunch with the Australian 7s team.
The Rugby luncheon is just one of many renowned events the chamber holds each year. Over the next 12 months, key events will include Australia Day, the Rugby 7s and International Women’s Day luncheons, The Great Debate, The Year Ahead, The China Forum and four events focussed on Australian food & beverages, including private wine maker dinners and the launch of a Chamber Mentor Program. The Chamber also holds monthly Mix at Six drinks.
*Pictured: AustCham Hong Kong and Macau’s annual Rugby 7s lunch – a highlight of the Hong Kong calendar.
Events are one of its key successes, but Kirsty Boazman, who was appointed to the Chief Executive position of the chamber at the end of 2011, has signalled a change in the organisation’s direction – one of greater advocacy. Ms Boazman is pushing for a louder voice on issues that matter for Australians and Australian business in Hong Kong and Macau, at both a Hong Kong and Australian government level.
She says the chamber is developing more support services for Australian businesses looking to start and expand in this part of Asia, including the development of a channel for potential investors back into Australia.
The enthusiasm with which Australian businesses are individually grasping the Asian opportunity and realizing where Hong Kong fits into that strategy as an obvious launching pad into Mainland China, has been a highlight of her time so far with the chamber.
“Every week we have four to five Australian companies knocking on the Chamber door to ask about how they best make a move into Hong Kong, with an eye on China next,” says Ms Boazman.
“The energy they bring is contagious.”
She says the Australian entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in Hong Kong and Macau, where individuals and businesses make positive things happen.
“I think Australian professionals here are well regarded as creative, particularly hard-working, more likely to come up with a solution rather than whinge about the problem, they bring a strong humanistic approach to people management, and are generally credited as being ‘gutsy’ in their decision making.” ■
The Benefits of joining AustCham HK & Macau
– Business development through matching & networking opportunities
– Corporate exposure within the significant Australia-linked business community in Hong Kong
– Membership of industry-focussed committees which give members access to government, policy & business leaders, inside knowledge on market & industry movements, an avenue through which to advocate on issues of concern, connections with professionals & peers
– A cost-effective means of promoting company or product messages through advertising or educational seminars
– The support of a non-government, not-for-profit organisation operating entirely for the benefit of members
Why Hong Kong for business?
– Rule of Law guarantee
– Business transparency
– Ease of starting/growing a business
– Access & proximity to Mainland China & all its potential
*To learn more about AustCham Hong Kong and Macao, visit: www.austcham.com.hk