Coaching Class: Mentoring maestro David Yeh Jr sets the businesses of other prominent families to rights

David Yeh Jr is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his executive coaching business that is undoubtedly a labour of love. He thrives on helping others and gains immense pleasure from what he does. “I hope I can continue what I do until the very last day of my life,” says the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of Destiny Research Institute (DRI). “It will be meaningful if I can continue to serve mankind and help more people to achieve what they want in life.”

Yeh leads a dedicated team of corporate and wellness coaches. Speaking from the DRI office in Central, he clearly exudes a sense of pride in helping family firms and other businesses overcome a range of difficulties so they can confidently look to the future. Over the years, he has mentored and coached numerous – and sometimes long-time – clients who value the services he provides; much of his business is based on referrals.

Prior to founding DRI, Yeh had a diverse business background, mainly working in finance, investment and wealth management. Initially, after gaining a business administration degree from the University of Southern California, he worked for his father’s toy manufacturing company in a marketing capacity and the tough love from his father and general life experiences have helped mould his character and define who he is.

Junior role

Yeh Jr’s relationship with his father was difficult at times, and he freely admits he went through a “rebellious” phase, but he is obviously exceedingly proud of his father’s business achievements. He talks animatedly of how, in the 1980s, David Yeh Sr rescued beloved UK toy-car brand Matchbox from bankruptcy in a leveraged buyout and then masterminded an amazing turnaround in its fortunes and a landmark listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

It was this business acumen that the son sought to emulate, and he was eager to soak up knowledge and experience by working alongside his father at Universal Toys. As the eldest of four siblings, he had thought in the Chinese family business tradition that he would one day take over the reins himself. But Yeh Sr was a tough taskmaster and never allowed family loyalties to get in the way of sound business judgment.

Father knows best

Yeh recounts a fascinating anecdote – one he often tells at business functions – how early one Saturday morning, his father awoke him in his room in New York and took him to a huge skyscraper on Fifth Avenue. As they ascended in the lift, the son remained completely in the dark as to what was going on. The lift opened and there stood about 20 professionals in suits.

“I assumed they were lawyers and accountants, so I asked ‘what’s going on?’ My Dad – calling me Junior as he normally did – said, ‘Junior, I want to merge my company with another listed company.’ To which I replied, ‘Why on earth do you want to do that?’”

The youngster was then shocked by his father’s response: “In front of everybody, he said, ‘Junior, if I allow you to run this business, in six to nine months’ time it will be going under!’

“So imagine you are a 20-year-old and hear something like that from your own father whom you admire so much,” says Yeh. “This is pretty hurtful and it’s very hard.”

Personal growth

The humiliating experience remains seared into Yeh’s consciousness, but he did glean some long-term benefits from it. “That’s where I learned so much about family conflict and how to find a suitable and viable exit strategy for any kind of business,” he says. “That set the foundation to do what I do today.”

Although his relationship with his father, who passed away two years ago at the age of 93, was a ittle strained for a while afterwards, Yeh regards him as his hero. He still treasures his father’s wise counsel and many letters over the years offering words of wisdom.

Another defining moment for Yeh was a time of great personal loss and sadness that made him reflect on the truly important things in life. It was then that he decided to set up his coaching enterprise.

“I wanted to leverage my knowledge and skills to help business owners, in particular family-business owners, to navigate complex business environments and unlock their leadership potential,” he explains.

Having attended a host of business courses over the years, he cites Tony Robbins’ Date with Destiny as perhaps the most impactful. “It helped us to dig deep into understanding ourselves so we can understand more about what is really happening in the external world,” he says.

Family misfortunes

He describes three typical situations a family business would seek the advice of his consultancy: when there are deep-rooted conflicts among family members they cannot resolve themselves; when a previously successful business model is no longer working or struggling to gel with the current generation; and when future generations don’t want to be involved with the business and Next Gen leaders from outside the family need grooming.

Within a family business environment there is sometimes an “unspoken” issue which family members are reluctant to talk about. “We call them ‘the elephant in the room’,” he says.

Yeh maintains it is essential a potential client has full cognition of the issues confronting the business if success is to be achieved. “The key driver is whether a client is aware of the prominence of the issue they are encountering before it gets out of hand and problems begin to erupt,” he explains.

Calls for help

Another important requirement is the need to develop mutual respect and trust. “Not everyone is suitable or ready for coaching. As the famous ‘Trillion-Dollar Coach’ Bill Campbell has mentioned – not everyone is coachable. When we approach somebody, we have to know whether that person is coachable or not.”

He describes a coachable person as someone who is open-minded and willing to express themselves and disclose their own difficulties. “If I think that person is coachable, we have a much better chance in attaining positive results and being able to help them reflect on what has to be done for their future and for us,” says Yeh.

Succession and success

Succession planning is a core strength of his consultancy. “Our coaching methodology has an all-rounded approach, and different elements of life would be touched upon. In essence, these should all be correlated with a person’s mind map. Our goal is help to connect all the factors and guide our clients into steering their business path to success with well-planned succession.”

He believes companies should always continue to develop their staff. “To make this work, our target audience needs to believe continuous growth and learning are essential for themselves and their business to emerge in this dynamic changing world.”

Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction: Joseff Musa; Videographer: Jack Fontanilla

Sea Change: Hong Kong shipowners street into a new era, confident of continuing our status as a global maritime hub

Last year, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) celebrated its 65th anniversary and also elected its first chairman of Indian origin. Angad Banga took the helm at one of the world’s largest and most vocal shipowner associations in November. Its 180-plus members represent companies owning, managing or operating a fleet, or providing shipping industry services, and together their vessels boast a carrying capacity of more than 223 million deadweight tonnes.

Banga is chief operating officer of The Caravel Group, his family’s company with maritime, commodities and asset management arms. Through his two-year stint as HKSOA chairman, he is also serving as rotational chairman of the Asian Shipowners’ Association until mid this year, which embraces bodies from Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea as well as ASEAN countries.

He explains that the HKSOA is driven by volunteerism; like his father, Dr Harry Banga – once one of the youngest master mariners in the Indian merchant navy – and other members of The Caravel Group, he has been active in the association for many years. “I felt that the time was right to put myself forward for election to further support the global and local development of the industry and our maritime hub here in Hong Kong,” he says.

Initially pursuing a career in finance and private equity roles, Banga’s background is notably diverse and perhaps unique for someone in his new role. He is proud of his elevation as the august body’s first chair of Indian descent, but he also keeps a sense of perspective – the maritime industry, not surprisingly, is extremely international in outlook, has English as the common language and members with businesses anchored all over the world. “I do feel the significance of being the first person of Indian origin leading the association,” he says. “I do, however, see myself as a Hong Konger with Indian heritage and an international perspective, having been raised here from an early age, but having also been educated in the US.”

Life at sea and onshore

Clearly devoted to the industry, he is a keen to promote it as a rewarding career across many disciplines for both men and women – “everything from law, to finance, insurance, marketing, engineering and data science”. “The salaries in shipping are competitive when you compare them to other industries, and its global nature means there are good opportunities to move around and experience working and living in different countries,” he shares.

During the celebrations to mark its 65-year lifespan, former Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation Efthimios Mitropoulos stated the HKSOA has never been shy to speak out on important topics. Banga insists he will continue to be outspoken in matters close to his heart during his tenure. “I feel very strongly about seafarer welfare, including their physical and mental health and wellbeing,” he says. “Seafarers are essential key workers and their work is absolutely vital within the global supply chain.”

The pandemic was an extremely challenging period for all at sea. And as borders closed, mariners spent much longer onboard than usual, resulting in spikes in anxiety and other mental health issues. Banga is proud of HKSOA efforts to further seafarers’ rights in areas such as crew change, shore leave and vaccinations during that time, and promises that their wellbeing will continue to be a core issue.

Safe harbour

On a strategic level, the association will continue to do its utmost to preserve Hong Kong’s status as one the world’s premier maritime centres and to promote its interests globally. “I’m very confident about the Hong Kong shipping industry going forward, and our position as an international finance, shipping and trade centre,” says Banga, noting that the HKSOA plays an active role in many maritime arenas including the International Chamber of Shipping.

“Hong Kong continues to have the fourth largest ship registry in the world, and as a result of the recent shipping tax concessions, it is seen as an increasingly attractive centre for ship-leasing companies, with several building or expanding their portfolios in the city – which has a flow-on effect of increasing the demand for other supporting maritime service companies.”

He highlights the competitiveness of the shipping tax rates and incentives introduced by the government over the past few years – tax on ship leasing, ship management and ship agency is now either nil or just 8.25% (half the normal corporation profits tax rate of 16.5%). Tax concessions afforded to commercial principals such as ship managers specifically address third- party ship management as a stand-alone business. “The fact these concessions are also extended to businesses within the service sectors, such as brokers, ship agents and marine insurers, to name a few, means that everyone can benefit and grow together,” he says.

Shipping forecast

Such incentives should act as a major “drawcard” for shipping-related companies to be based in Hong Kong. “The Hong Kong government has traditionally been very supportive of the maritime industry,” says Banga, who also notes the volume of maritime arbitrations in Hong Kong has been steadily increasing.

The association continues to keep an open dialogue with government representatives on ways to grow the industry. The establishment of a separate Transport and Logistics Bureau dedicated purely to transport and logistics matters (rather than being grouped in with Housing) was partly down to HKSOA advocacy.

In another positive move, the Hong Kong government recently completed a ‘smart port’ study, planning to “enhance port efficiency and reduce cargo handling time and cost through streamlining and optimising the multi-party coordinated processes electronically”.

Greener future

The global shipping industry is now steering a course to decarbonisation, including the use of future fuels, in a process considered essential if the world is to keep within the climate goals set down in the Paris Agreement. According to its new chairman, the HKSOA is fully supportive of this transition and will take onboard cooperation and support from all parties. “In the energy transition journey, some key challenges include regulation, digital innovation and attracting, training and retaining people to be able to run ships as effectively and efficiently as possible,” notes Banga.

As for his own company, he says The Caravel Group is reducing carbon emissions from its owned and managed ships given that greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to fuel consumption. “A large part of our efforts focuses on implementing measures to conserve engine power and improve energy efficiency. This includes improving our consumption monitoring and data collection processes to be more comprehensive and accurate, so we can make better decisions in managing each vessel.”

Hong Kong’s position within the Greater Bay Area should allow fleets to draw on the resources of the region’s innovative R&D centres in the transition drive. He also believes that Hong Kong, with its strategic location within Asia and robust infrastructure, is ideally placed to become a future fuel bunkering hub. “We need skilled people to be able to support industry developments, such as the rolling out of new technologies and future fuels,” says Banga.

MOS House Group’s Fiona Tsui on her flourishing retail business

For MOS House Group’s Fiona Tsui, one person’s slip paved the way to a shining retail opportunity. While spending her days on tiles, she also prioritises giving back…

Tell us about your upbringing.
I come from a relatively small family. It was just my parents, my elder brother and myself. Then my brother emigrated to the US, so it was mainly me, my dad and my mum in Hong Kong. As a kid, my dad always pushed me to do things like music and ballet, even though I wasn’t really into these activities. My parents would end up bribing me by saying “if you practise for three hours, you can get ice cream afterwards”. Since I absolutely adored ice cream, I’d suffer through the hours of playing to get my reward!

As a child, did recall having any particular career aspirations?
When I was really young, I wanted to become a writer. At the time, my father was friends with famous local novelist Louis Cha Leung-yung [also known by his pen name, Jin Yong], so I think that’s how I got inspired. I dabbled in story-writing for a while, but ultimately gave it up because it was too difficult.

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Earrings by Valentino Garavani; Watch by Piaget; Dress by Emilio Pucci

How did your career unfold?
I had begun helping my parents with their tailoring business as a teenager, and continued to do so after graduating. Then, after I got married, my husband and I had the opportunity to invest in what would eventually become MOS House Group. The idea originally came from one of our friends, who convinced us to invest in the project. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, this person gave up on the entire initiative without ever starting, leaving us in something of a lurch.

Since we had already sunk money into the business, we thought: why not give it a go ourselves? So, we both switched gears and careers and focused solely on this instead. It was a huge change for both of us, as we didn’t have any prior experience in the industry, but we made it work somehow, and we’re still going strong two decades later.

Today, you are Executive Director at MOS House Group. How as the company grown over 20 years?
We started off as an overseas-manufactured tile retailer for the city, but today we serve as the seller for more than 20 brands. Our bread-and-butter is importing porcelain, ceramic and mosaic tiles from exclusive luxury brands in European countries like Italy and Spain, but our product portfolio also includes kitchen finishes as well as bathroom fixtures and fittings such as bathtubs, basins, mirrors and so forth.

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Earrings by Chanel; Bracelet by Bvlgari; Watch by Piaget; Dress by Dior; Heels by Valentino Garavani 

What were the major challenges you faced getting your business off the ground?
In the beginning, pretty much everything was a brand-new experience, but I think it was these bumps in the road that really taught me a lot. For example, every year there are several major houseware fairs in Italian cities such as Milan and Bologna, where international retailers fly in to inspect and order products for the coming year.

As a buyer, you not only need to know the reigning trends, but you also have to separate the products that would appeal more to European clients from those that will resonate with an Asian audience like our own customer base. In the early days, I sometimes chose items that didn’t really fit Hong Kong tastes at that time, so they would remain in our storehouse unsold. Thankfully, evolving trends meant that a few years later, those very products suddenly became hits and flew off the shelves.


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Watch by Piaget; Bracelet Bvlgari; Dress by ALAiA; Belt by Valentino Garavani; Heels by Rene Caovilla

Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon that you can share with us?
With the ongoing pandemic, we’ve not been able to grow in quite the way we hoped over the past couple of years, but we’re optimistic that once things look up, we can revive our plans to expand. We’re hoping to spread our footprint in the mainland – we already have offices in Shanghai and Guangdong, for example, but we’d like to enter newer cities as well. Also, from a product perspective, we’re looking to increase our portfolio with new houseware items from markets such as Japan so that we can add to the breadth of offerings available to our discerning customers.

Aside from MOS House Group, do you have any other business interests or passions?
To be honest, our company is my sole business focus at the moment. Having said that, I do devote a lot of my time to giving back to the needy. I’m not talking about the glamorous side of charity work, such as fundraising galas. I actually like to roll up my sleeves and get involved in causes I feel really help disadvantaged people. Of course, with the ongoing pandemic, this has often meant collecting and distributing masks and providing rapid testing kits to elderly folks who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. Before Covid though, I was involved in initiatives such as beach clean-ups and other environmental programmes as well.

“I’m not talking about [doing] the glamorous side of charity work… I actually like to roll up my sleeves and get involved in causes I feel really help disadvantaged people”

How do you like to relax and unwind when you have free time?
I’m a total foodie, so I like to check out new Michelin-starred restaurants to sample their dishes. But more than food, though, I love to travel. I’ve been to over 100 countries so far, and I think it’s just such an amazing way to broaden your horizons. My favourite trips are to South America, because the culture, people and sights are so far removed from Hong Kong. The fact that these places are so geographically remote and require such lengthy travel plans means you value your time there so much more. My most memorable experience abroad to date is probably visiting the famous salt flats of Bolivia [the Salar de Uyuni] – it was just such an awe-inspiring, amazing sight to behold…

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Earrings, ring and watch by Piaget; Top and chain belt by Chanel; Pants by Chloé; Heels by YSL 

Who is your favourite celebrity?
I would say Audrey Hepburn. She was so classy, so elegant, and I absolutely adored her films such as Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Beyond that, though, I’ve always admired her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She was so passionate about travelling all over the world to raise awareness of the plights of everyone from the sick and the elderly to impoverished children. What an amazing, singular woman!

If you could meet any person, past or present, who would it be?
That would have to be Coco Chanel. She’s an absolute legend, and I’d love to know what inspired her, what made her tick and how she overcame the challenges in her life. As you may be able to tell, I’m focusing on strong women here… while there are many men I admire, I feel like women really don’t get enough attention for all the amazing things they achieve even now, so we should celebrate the female trailblazers who pushed boundaries and shattered glass ceilings over the past century.

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Watch by Piaget; Bracelet Bvlgari; Dress by ALAiA; Belt by Valentino Garavani; Heels by Rene Caovilla

Finally, if you won a US$10 million lottery tomorrow, what would be your first big-ticket purchase?
Honestly, I’d give a significant amount of the winnings to charity. I firmly believe in giving back – I’d want to pass on my good fortune to those who need it more than me.

Thank you.


(Interview by: Tenzing Thondup; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Andy Wan Hair and Make up: Heti Tsang; Venue: Molteni&C)

Wine & Investments: An interview with Auctioneer Simon Tam

Food lover, passionate scuba diving instructor, wine expert, Christie’s alumni, founder of Aeos Auctions – Simon Tam is a man of varied experiences and a wealth of knowledge. We caught up with the seasoned auctioneer to learn about his craft and relish in his lively character…

Was there one particular glass or moment that sparked your love of wine?
I come from a family of restaurateurs and grew up in our restaurants in Australia – good food, good wines, good company, laughter and conversations were the norm for me. I often thought to myself, ‘What an interesting industry to get into.’ My surroundings made me adventurous with food and wine. I love trying new tastes, and the sights, sounds and smell of a working kitchen have always fascinated me – they still somehow evoke the deepest part of my memories. When you’re surrounded by food and wine as a child, it leaves an impression.

Infamously, I not only tried wine for the first time at 13, but also spiked it with Coca-Cola! It was the early ’80s, and I happened to ‘borrow’ a bottle of 1961 Château Lafite from my mother’s cellar and had my first sip. I instantly loved the smell, though not so much the taste. The moment I added Coke, I knew it was going to be my life-long poison [laughs].

I was in high school when I first made wine. My friends and I had a pact that in the winter holidays we would teach skiing and in summer we’d make wine. That was a turning point for me, and I haven’t looked back; I think wine is the only thing I know.

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How did your journey evolve from opening Hong Kong’s first wine school back in 1996 to founding Aeos Auctions last year?
Amazing. The wine industry is a melting pot of generous, kind, and funny people from different cultures and parts of the world. I’ve been very fortunate with mentors in my career and my decades of professional experience which have prepared me for running an auction house – it’s been a fulfilling, fun learning journey.

Tell us about your 10 years at Christie’s and how this shaped you today as an auctioneer?
[In 2010] I was the first Chinese appointed as the Head of Wine at Christie’s in Hong Kong. I started with the China market, which was growing rapidly in the fine-wine sector; it was a great honour to be heading the ever-expanding China team, and then my role grew to head wine for the whole of Asia.

As an organisation, Christie’s is amazing – the client service experience is second to none, people are passionate about their jobs, and there’s an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise in all departments. I am grateful for the rich learning environment I got to be in. I discovered that the business of auctions is exhilarating – it gave me butterflies each time the gavel came pounding down on the podium.

What are the best as well as the worst aspects of your profession?
The best aspects of the wine and auction industries are the people – the passion, the motivation that drives people to understand, taste and collect wine is exemplary. It doesn’t get mundane – no two days are the same; there’s always something new to learn and some of the best, most colourful and kindest people I’ve met in life are wine lovers.
The worst part, I would say, is an empty bottle [laughs]. But there’s always another one…

“There’s always something new to learn [in the wine industry] and some of the best, most colourful and kindest people I’ve met in life are wine lovers”

Any underrated wines which people should know about and appreciate?
Now, I am tasting and drinking a lot of New Zealand Pinot Noir – it’s one of my favourite grapes; Sauvignon Blanc may be New Zealand’s calling card, but the country has built a formidable reputation for handling this Burgundy grape remarkably well. Winemakers there have been mastering this fickle grape from more than 20 years, and I am absolutely smitten. The region’s cool climate gives an impressive and eclectic depth, purity, freshness, complexity and exoticness to the variety.

You’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years. Can you reveal the best business advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve been mentored by several people at different times in my career, and everyone had something valuable to say, but the advice that stood out for me was from my mother. She said, ‘Treat everyone the same way – a janitor or a CEO.’ That’s the most beautiful life lesson for me; when you are capable of doing anything in life, the least you can do is treat people with kindness. It has certainly helped me make a lot of genuine friends in and out of this industry.

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Jacket, button-up shirt, pants and shoes by Brunello Cucinelli

What denotes a fantastic food and wine pairing?
Now we’re talking! I grew up in an environment of food, wine and laughter, but I took it ahead and decided to explore how Asian food pairs with wine – an Indian sabzi, Thai green curry, Vietnamese pho, chilli-laced noodles… Asian food runs a gamut of flavours, and the standard wine rules don’t always apply. Sometimes red meat and red wine work, sometimes white meat and white wines work, but the world is so much more diverse than that.

Some of my pairings are unorthodox – I love spicy food and instead of drowning out the chilli, I want the wine to exaggerate the drama. If I wanted my wine to dull or flatten the spice, I might as well have bland food, no? I also feel that the finest food and wines should be reserved for the highlight moments of your life, so for weekends and regular get-togethers find wines that fit your lifestyle and match the occasion.

“Some of my pairings are unorthodox – I love spicy food and instead of drowning out the chilli, I want the wine to exaggerate the drama”

Since you’re so passionate about food and wine, is opening a restaurant in the pipeline?
Hospitality is in my blood and I love the industry, but much to my parents’ disappointment, none of their three boys carried on the family business. I like the idea of having my own restaurant, but it’s way too much hard work – whenever everyone else is chilling and having their downtime, like Christmas or New Year, you’re working. I’ve lived that life and made a conscious decision to have some balance.

Tell us about your other passions.
That would be underwater photography and scuba diving. I am an accomplished scuba diving instructor but, wait for it, I can’t swim. I am extremely skilled in water; I know my buoyancy, but I just can’t swim long laps. Being underwater is paradise – it’s such a thrilling and a humbling experience; a true realisation that the universe is majestic and you’re a tiny, tiny part of it. Both underwater photography and scuba diving bring balance and a diverse perspective to my above-ground life.

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What brings you happiness in life?
Laughing with my son. He’s 15-years-old, remarkably intelligent – I can’t take credit for that – has a very good sense of humour and is a gorgeous human being. I just love being with him, laughing with him, and we have a delicious time together.

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Jacket, button-up shirt, pants and shoes by Brunello Cucinelli

What are your vices?
I can’t be left alone in a supermarket – I just can’t be trusted with a wallet and a shopping cart! I am an obsessive, impulsive kitchen and gadget shopper. I absolutely love to cook and entertain – in fact, I eat out only for work purposes – so I cannot do without a fully functional pantry. And when I’m in a supermarket, there’s always this urge to buy extra for dinner with friends, or an impromptu party at home…

If you could have any wine with any cuisine tonight, what would it be?
I would drink my own wine. I made it before leaving Australia and my godparents have kept a stock, pair it with my godmother’s Brien Stew and Suet pudding. It’s outrageously delicious! Reliving my childhood, my happiest days, while sipping my own wine – now that’s home for me.

Thank you.


(Interview by: Nikita Mishra; Photographer: Jack Law; Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma; Videographer: Kes Lei Venue: Aeos Auctions Office)

Digital Maven: Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling

Adrian Ho, Executive Director of China Water & Energy Limited, on investing in clean energy in Xinjiang, and building a 185,000-strong following for his Facebook group, Save HK…

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (2)

What was your childhood and upbringing like?
I grew up in the ’80s in Hong Kong, and my childhood, to this day, is one of the best periods of my life. I grew up in a very traditional family with strong family values. I have two siblings that I’m still close with to this day, and our parents were wonderful providers who ensured we never needed to worry about anything except school, which was truly a blessing.

Tell us about your parents and the impact they had on you.
My father is a businessman and my mother was a full-time homemaker, so she stayed home to take care of three kids. Everything they did was in the best interest of the family, and it still is to this day. I was raised in a very strict, traditional Chinese family and my parents had very high expectations for my siblings and myself, and that in turn made us expect more of ourselves as well. I am so grateful and I feel so lucky for their support.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (3)

What path did your education take?
Growing up, I was enrolled in a local school in Hong Kong. During that time, there was an immigration wave of people migrating to Canada, including many of my relatives, but my parents chose to stay and put us through the education system here. I went to La Salle Primary School, then to La Salle College.
At 13, I moved to become a boarding student at the Repton School in Darbyshire, UK for five years. After graduating, I wanted to see something new and make a change after five years in the UK, so I enrolled in a university in the US. I was admitted to the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, and I got my bachelor’s degree in finance there in 2000. Back then, I didn’t want to pursue a career in finance, but it was one of the most popular majors,  and one that my parents encouraged.

How did you start your professional career?
After graduating, I returned to Hong Kong. I had been away from home for nine years, and despite the outbreak of the Asian Financial Crisis, I wanted to return to the city and my family. I started working for a local investment bank for three years, before moving onto a Taiwanese boutique investment firm with a much more Western work culture. In all, I was a banker for seven years.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar

Why did you give up banking?

It actually came about because my friend and I were having a conversation about a hot topic at the time, and because it was not related to finance, I had absolutely no idea. I realised that my world was completely immersed in the finance and banking sphere, and anything beyond that was foreign to me. I wanted to expand my horizons from that, so I quit banking and started my own business.

“I wanted to expand my horizons, so I quit banking and started my own business”

Tell us about your company, China Water & Energy Limited, and your wind energy projects in Xinjiang.
We started off importing high-quality foreign disinfectant products into Hong Kong. After two years, though, we were overrun by bigger businesses with better funding, so we knew we had to evolve into something else. Coincidentally, we were introduced into the energy sector. I’ve always been interested in the environmental business, conservation and protection, and I wanted to get into that. We were introduced to wind energy when we consulted on a wind energy project for some folks who had worked for GE Energy Finance, and we realised we should pursue this in China in an investor capacity. At the time, wind energy was already a mature industry there, so we wanted to find a less developed location with untapped potential. That’s why we chose Xinjiang and today we invest in wind farms there.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (4)

How has Covid-19 impacted your daily routine?
To be honest, even before the pandemic, the bulk of my work was done remotely over the phone or through emails, so the only real difference is the lack of travel. My schedule used to vary from flying weekly to once a month into China, and that has definitely been put on pause now. 

What led you to start Save HK? When did you found it?
Our Facebook group Save HK actually just celebrated its first-year anniversary. It actually came about as a beautiful coincidence. My friend and I were talking about the situation in Hong Kong, how troublesome and chaotic it had become. He was the one who suggested opening a social media group to let close friends and family talk about the current situation and Hong Kong’s future safely without being judged or attacked, particularly because at that time, it wasn’t popular to voice certain opinion.
That very night, we started the group with five or six close friends. To tell you the truth, we never envisioned it would grow to become what it is today, it was just supposed to be for us. Then word started to get out that there is a closed Facebook group for people to voice their opinions and suddenly, it became very popular amongst rational Hong Kong people. The rest is history, and today we have 185,000 members.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (7)

Can you tell us what Save HK’s philosophy is all about?
Basically we are a closed Facebook group that encourages our members to voice their opinions and share their vision for Hong Kong’s future. In particular we want to maintain a safe space for people to be able to talk about the recent troubles without judgment and how we can help Hong Kong become better. We also want to leverage our presence into offline activities that can help Hongkongers, such as charity work to help people in need. In terms of future plans, we hope to expand our charitable activities to help even more people in Hong Kong, while also trying to unite more rational people to help each other during these hard times.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (8)

What is the secret to Save HK’s success?
I think it’s because we are able to accommodate a wider spectrum of opinions, even among the rational set. I think this is how we differentiate ourselves from similar groups, because they only allow a much narrower spectrum of opinions.
Also, when we started Save HK, there was a huge reliance on the founders to maintain the group with different posts and opinions and comments. So I believe one of the biggest reasons for our success is that the group’s founders all come from a very similar background with a similar point of view. From the beginning, I think people realised that we were rational,  educated and civilised people, and I think other like-minded people were very drawn to finding this safe space.
As I mentioned, the original idea was never to have 185,000 members. Our growth was 100 percent driven by word of mouth, and today you see members from different parts of the world, different careers and education and an even broader purview than our original niche positioning.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (5)

What are Save HK’s biggest successes?
With the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, we at Save HK wanted to help the community so we started to brainstorm on some ideas. One of those was to distribute masks and disinfectant products to those in need. We’ve done a few trips around town to low-income areas to ensure they have enough supplies during this difficult time. We also recently held an online fundraising concert in June and we were able to raise over HK$500,000 for two local charities that primarily help single-parent families as well as children from a low-income background, so I’m very proud of that as well.

“Save HK’s growth was 100 percent driven by word of mouth… we now have 185,000 members”

Any upcoming projects or collaborations?
Actually, we just finished an exciting project. A new song was written and composed by a Save HK member, and I arranged it to be performed by several KOLs. It was just released this morning, and it pays tribute to front-line medical workers, especially the ones who came from China. It’s very meaningful and I’m very proud of it.

Digital Maven Mastermind behind Save HK, Adrian Ho has found a new calling Gafencu Magazine Interview Bertie's Cigar (6)

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
A family elder once told me that success can only be determined in a 20-year timeframe. What you do now, be it failure or achievement, can only be deemed as such in hindsight. If you’ve stumbled, don’t give up, the race isn’t finished.

What’s a secret people don’t know about you.
I’ve never watched Titanic, nor do I want to.

Favourite movie: Die Hard
Favourite movie quote: “Sometimes you just got to say what the F, make your move” – Risky Business
Biggest item on your bucket list: To write a song
Favourite sport: Wrestling
The Rock or Stone Cold: Stone Cold by a hair. When I saw my first Wrestlemania in Boston, that’s when he won his first championship.

Thank you.


Interview by: Tenzing Thondup
Photos: Jack Law
Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma
Venue: Bertie’s Cigars

Benefits of flying a private jet

Chartering a private jet will give travellers’ the unique luxury and comforts of a personalized on-flight experience.

Whether on a business trip or a family holiday, travelling via a chartered jet offers a host of benefits unmatched by typical commercial flights.  

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Choose your own cuisine

Five-star fine dining is right at travellers’ finger tips with their personalised culinary preferences tailor made by executive chefs from prestigious hotels and restaurants.
Land closer to your final destination

One of the most highlighted perks of flying on a private jet is that the aircraft can land almost anywhere, eliminating the inconvenience of awaiting to claim luggage and looking for a valet in a crowded airport. Chartered private jets provide first-class concierge services that ensure an overall smooth travel experience.  

Benefits of flying a private jet gafencu luxury magazine paramount business jet
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No lengthy layovers
A personalised travel itinerary offers great flexibility and a much more relaxed flight free of layovers for an hour or more in airports in a foreign city. Chartered jet travellers typically rest in comfortable luxury private suites that on their way to their destination.

Have your pet on board
Private jet travellers can enjoy the rare luxury of bringing along with them their furry little friends without the hassles and inconveniences of securing clearances from quarantine authorities at the airport of origin.  

Choose your own aircraft and interior
Charter companies typically offer different types of aircraft that a well-heeled traveller can choose from depending on the number of passengers. Choices can range from eight-seater models, like the Challenger 350, to the 14-seater Global 6000. Some charter firms offer longer flights and larger VIP-class aircraft that can sit up to 40 passengers or more.

Benefits of flying a private jet gafencu luxury magazine air charter amenities
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Depart time at your own discretion
Parties who place a very high premium on time are best served by chartered flights. They decide the precise time when to leave any destination, equating to utmost efficiency and flexibility in travel whether early in the morning or late in the evening. A VIP escort service is typically provided to ensure high standards of service to and from the destination of the charterer.  

Enjoy private lounge and terminals

The comforts and amenities of private lounges and terminals are typically enjoyed by chartered aircraft travellers, saving the latter’s precious time that would otherwise be spent under occasional stressful conditions at the airport.

Benefits of flying a private jet gafencu luxury magazine

Have the aircraft to yourself
Well-heeled and busy travellers always desire quiet and undisturbed privacy for efficient work, especially when travelling to a very important meeting or conference overseas. This same principle holds for a well-knit family whose members wish to savour the intimate privacy of boding with each other on their way to their desired destination.

Cost for a flight of 5 hours inclusive

Most companies that offer chartered flights often calculate the total cost of their charter services based on several key factors, including total flight time, number of passengers and on-board crew, as well as airport terminal fees and charges. Other cost factors include airport and handling fees, as well as overfly charges and flight-related, which are determined on hourly rates. A typical five-hour chartered flight, which includes flight attendants can cost up to HK$2.5 to $2.7 million.


See also: Plan your ultimate weekend getaway on a yacht

To charter a private jet for business trips Click Here.

To charter a private jet to for a small group Click Here.

To experience five-star service to Europe and Asia Pacific Click Here.

To indulge in fine-dining and top-notch quality service Click Here.

Management Star: As Director of Business Development for Keyestone Group, Edwin Pun occupies many roles

Sitting in the plush Cotton Tree Drive Suite of The Murray, Hong Kong, Keyestone Group Director Edwin Pun discusses his passions, projects and more…

Management Star gafencu magazine people interview edwin pun keystone investment group

Tell us a little about your family background. 

I grew up in a very lively and close-knit family. I have five siblings, and we’re all extremely close. It was definitely a very noisy house growing up, but one that was full of love. My parents have always been extremely supportive of all of us, and allowed us to choose our own path without fail. 

For example, when I was a kid, I was first enrolled in a local school, but I couldn’t really fit into that system. While I wasn’t bullied or depressed or anything, I did struggle a little to find friends and I think my mindset was very different, so I really wanted to join an international school instead, one that would be more broad-minded and welcoming. When I approached my parents about it, they were fully accepting and allowed me to enrol at the Australian International School instead. 

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And where did your path take you after that?

After graduating from high school, I then completed my undergraduate degree at George Washington University in the US, majoring in international business and finance. After that, I returned to Hong Kong with the aim of becoming a management consultant. I’d always wanted to join that industry, because I thought it was so cool. There’s a lot of exposure, every day is different, you get to deal with a variety of clients and projects… after college, I was ready to start solving big problems. 

Unfortunately, my graduation coincided with the global financial crisis and the job scene was quite bleak. That’s when I decided to join the family business, Keyestone Group, instead. It definitely wasn’t the career trajectory that I’d imagined for myself, but it was extremely rewarding, particularly given that I had to be very flexible and learn skills on the job. Be it understanding the materials used in construction, the approval process with the government, collaborating with designers… it was a seriously steep learning curve, and no one person could have taught me all the skills I needed, it all had to be acquired through experience. 


Did you ever return to your first love, management consulting?

Actually, yes. It did take some doing though. While I was already working at Keyestone, in the back of my mind, I still wanted to give management consulting a serious go. But when I talked to people in the industry, the feedback I got was that even though I had lots of experience in the construction industry, as an undergraduate degree holder without a specialisation like engineering or accounting, I would have to undertake further education. That’s when I decided to enroll at the University of Southern California to pursue an MBA degree. Once I had that qualification, I finally got into consulting. It was just for two years, but it really changed the way I viewed management. It was really valuable in furthering my career, because it taught me how to implement all the theoretical knowledge I’d acquired in the real world, be it driving change, implementing new systems, bringing new projects to fruition… it basically taught me lifelong skills in running a company. It really gave me a strong foundation that still serves me well as a Director of Keyestone Group.


From construction to design to development to internal admin… I wear a lot of hats”



What do you feel are the benefits of working in a family business, and how large an impact have your parents had on your life and career?

My father is pretty much one of the most hard-working people I know. It’s not uncommon for him to work on Saturdays, and even the occasional Sunday. My mum is also very diligent, but beyond that she knows how to work smartly. I really admire her, having juggled raising all of us while still maintaining a successful career all at the same time. I thinking having that kind of background, I always see them as the benchmark for perseverance, determination and business acumen. 

I actually rejoined Keyestone Group at the behest of my father. After being a management consultant for a couple of years, he was the one who said it was time to come back to the fold and take my place in the business. As I mentioned, we’re a very close family with very ingrained family values, so when he suggested my return, I felt it was my duty to do so, to continue the family legacy. Of course, simultaneously, I was very excited to undertake new projects and responsibilities as well. 

I think the luxury of working in a family business is that if I failed, I failed in a safe environment and there was always a support system to share that burden. Equally importantly, it gives me the freedom to raise new ideas without fear of judgment. 

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So, as Keyestone Group’s Director of Business Development, what does your job entail exactly?

I oversee everything from construction to designs to a lot of business development, day-to-day operations, internal administration… I tend to wear a lot of hats, so it’s difficult to pinpoint just one or two things that come under my purview. It really depends on the phase of whatever phase a given project is at, and what exactly we’re working on at any given time. It’s quite a wide spectrum and I’m very involved in every aspect of what happens in the company. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your work, and what is the most rewarding?

I would say perhaps the most challenging aspect is continually encouraging originality and creativity from our employees while still maintaining a high standard of work. Constantly driving that kind of imagination and innovation as part of our corporate culture is difficult, particularly as Hong Kong’s work ethic is such that many follow a more by-the-book approach and are uncomfortable with raising new ideas or standing out too much. 

The most rewarding part of my job is definitely seeing a project completed. It’s always gratifying when, after years of hard work, you see your vision come to fruition. 

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Are there any new projects on the horizon that you’re particularly excited for?

Actually, we are currently working on several developments, including some residential projects. A particularly exciting venture we’re currently involved with, though, is a mixed-use development that encompasses a theme park, a hotel, retail spaces as well as a portion for commercial sales. The theme park is due to open in 2024, and it’s something that’s really exciting for me personally, particularly because the calibre of the creative minds and designers that we’re bringing onboard are industry leaders who are at the top of their game. It wows me because it’s a very novel concept, one that I think will be something of a game changer. I can’t share its name just yet, but watch this space…


Finally, what’s at the top of your wish list?

This may sound silly, but I’d love to be able to enjoy family meals without discussing work. It’s kind of a hazard of running a family business, where my siblings, father and I always branch off to talk about current projects or upcoming meetings… It would be nice to enjoy dinners as just a regular family gathering sometimes!


Thank you.


Interview: Tenzing Thondup
Photos: Jack Law
Styling & Art Direction: Jhoshwa Ledesma
Hair: Steve@HAiR
Make-up: KeiKei Ng
Wardrobe: Salvatore Ferragamo, Brunello Cucinelli

Venue: The Murray, Hong Kong



Honkers or Singers? Which Asian megacity is more appealing to foreign businesses?

AI company ImageDeep was the latest to open its Asia-Pacific office in Hong Kong, citing the city’s strategic global position and involvement in the Greater Bay initiative as its reasons for expanding into the 852. The decision came as a surprise to some, as while there is a long history of financial firms expanding into Hong Kong, tech companies have increasingly been reaching for Singapore instead. ImageDeep’s move has thrown up the age old debate: Hong Kong vs Singapore, which of these two Asian mega-cities has the edge for modern businesses?

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Fairs fair, both are extremely attractive to western businesses and remain the two most popular options for Western businesses wanting to get a piece of the ever-growing Asian market. Both being port towns Hong Kong and Singapore already have a great geographical advantage and their international airports, tap into a vast yet quickly navigated network of nearby countries and educated multilingual workforce mean businesses are spoilt for choice when it comes to hiring time. The government allows foreigners to own all of their shares, there is no mandate to have a native director on the company’s board and taxes are low with multiple exemptions available.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

Hong Kong’s well-founded history of financial success, far reaching travel links and low low tax rates have been attractive to overseas entrepreneurs for decades. Singapore has easier access to the growing Indian and Sri Lankan markets and boast their super clean streets, mega high living standards and highly engineered public transport system as an absolute win over Hong Kong, where pollution has long been a problem. But what Singapore sees as its greatest strength might just be its downfall when it comes to incoming Westerners. Many expats living in Hong Kong revel in the varied landscape and diversity in people and they think Singapore a little bit too homogenised. While the two can boast strong legal systems which protect the business interests of foreign business owners a few think the Singaporean system might be a little too eager. Hong Kong’s procedures might take a little longer but it’s generally agreed that this is in the interest of making sure everything is done in the most just manner possible.

Hong Kong vs Singapore

For the sake of diplomacy we’ll continue to call it a toss-up. For some Singapore’s spotless streets are utter paradise and for others the rolling mountains and gleaming spires of Hong Kong spell an irresistible adventure.

Text: Alice Duncan

5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Hackers

In the 1830s Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the Chappe’s telegraph network, a colossal chain of mechanical arms stretching across France and into Germany and Italy to be used solely for transmitting top secret military information using a form of semaphore. The network had only been in use for a year before brothers Francois and Louis Blanc bribed the system operators to transmit stock market information from Paris to Bordeaux where they lived ahead of other traders. This represented a major turning point in human civilisation. It’s was the world’s first hack. The moment where technology was, for the first time, manipulated by nefarious outside influences for their own gain.

Hacking has come a long way since then, but has never stopped presenting a threat to businesses. It’s no longer enough to simply set up a firewall and add a couple of numbers to your password. Data protection needs to be active and it needs to be uniform across an entire business. Gafencu looks at the five behaviours and techniques most recommended by security specialists to avoid cyber attacks.


Stay up to date

This not only means keeping your software current and changing your passwords often but also staying abreast of new ways hackers are using to infiltrate data networks. “White hat hackers” find and repair any gaps, which could leave you and your business vulnerable, before malevolent hackers can. Password management company SplashData releases an annual list of the worst passwords to have. Check and make sure yours isn’t one of them.

Limit access

It’s inadvisable to have your entire bank of data available to everyone in the company. Trainees and third-party maintenance operatives in particular should be restricted from accessing sensitive data or networks.

Educate your staff…

Hackers are increasingly preying on “low status” employees such as receptionists, secretaries and interns – essentially, people the boss may not be thinking about but who do have the power to, however accidentally, open you up to more serious threats. Make sure the all staff have an understanding of how to keep themselves and the company secure, especially if they deal with emails. 91% of advanced cyber attacks begin with opening a phishing email.


…and your children

As well as lower level staff nefarious hackers are also looking to the children of wealthy business owners as a weak point in their security, particularly if they use social media. Ensure that your children understand how to use social media safely and not to publicly associate themselves with your business.


Make a back-up plan

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Knowing how to recognise a cyber attack and what to do afterwards can  make all the difference. Look out for unauthorised transactions, unwanted toolbars suddenly appearing in your browser or friends on social media receiving messages you didn’t send. Be aware that in many cases closing a browser window or clicking ‘cancel’ after opening a malware link does not do anything to stop the attack. Most importantly ensure that your data is regularly and safely backed up meaning it can be recovered if the worst should happen.

Text by: Alice Duncan

Charles Pang on failure, ‘tiger parents’ and educating China

For Charles Pang, Executive Director of the Canadian International School of Beijing, success is more than just academic… 

You grew up in Canada. What do you recall of those years?

I moved to Toronto when I was about five or six and went to boarding school there, which proved to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Some of the people I met during that time became lifelong friends.

What brought you back to Hong Kong?

You could say that I never really came back to Hong Kong. After university, I headed off to join the family education business in Beijing. It was only after I got married that I started to spend more time in Hong Kong, largely because my wife – and then, later, my kids – lived here.

Read: Singer Charlene Chou Xuan on spreading traditional Chinese music to new audiences

Initially, your family was heavily involved in the textile sector, but then switched into education. What triggered such a dramatic change?

Around 1994, my father was part of Team Canada, a business delegation invited to meet Li Peng, then the Chinese Prime Minister. One of the issues discussed was the possibility of exporting the Canadian education system to China. With Li’s blessing, we then launched the Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB), with my father as one of the founders. Today, CISB has more than 30 branches across China, catering mainly to the expat community.

Do you see your schools as having had an impact on China’s education system overall?

Education in China is very much focused on the gao kao, the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, an approach that I find quite one dimensional. Typically, the teacher speaks and the student just listens. In our schools, the teacher is more of a guide, rather than forcing education on students.

We also took a lead in terms of technology. Some 10 years ago, we were the first to bring Smart Boards into the classroom. Now, nearly all of the schools in China have followed our lead.

Over recent years, the education sector has been transformed. What do you see as the most dramatic change?

When we started CISB 16 years ago, education was not at all technology-based and everything was still taught in a traditional fashion. Now, the internet has become an integral part of the educational process.

This is to the extent that we rarely use blackboards or whiteboards anymore, with many schools set to become entirely paperless. Similarly, homework and assessments can now be submitted online, with teachers able to instantly award grades and provide feedback. It also allows parents to go online and check grades in real time.

Moving on, you’ve now ventured into the luggage sector…

Ah, Ventris; it’s an aspirational lifestyle brand. The concept came about two years ago and then a few of us got together and informally launched the brand. Initially, we were just making luggage for family and friends but, after a few people commented on its commercial potential, we decided to get more serious about it. The brand has been under development ever since, with an online launch planned very soon.

The luggage sector is famously competitive – what do you see as Ventris’ USP?

It’s made from carbon-fibre, the same material racing cars are built from. As a result, it’s super-sturdy, yet very light. While we hope it will appeal to those who enjoy a fast-paced, jet-set lifestyle, it’s not going to be mass-produced. It’s a bespoke line for a distinctly niche clientele. We definitely won’t be going up against TUMI, Rimowa or any of the other big brands.

Does that complete your business portfolio or do you have other plans?

Well, I have just opened a restaurant in Causeway Bay – the Phó Metro. We also have a number of new schools opening this year – two in the US and two in Canada. Just as we brought Western education to China, we’re now looking to export Chinese language and culture to North America, with the Chinese Ministry of Education being one of our key backers. It’s also partly about giving the children of Chinese ex-pats the opportunity to learn about their own language and culture.

Read: A guide to gentlemen’s grooming and skincare in Hong Kong 

In terms of teaching your own children, what are the most important values you have sought to instill in them?

For me, it’s important that they grow up well-mannered and considerate. I am actually okay if they don’t turn out to be too academically-inclined. I am a great believer in the importance of kids being kids.

Right now, I see a lot of ‘tiger’ parents in Hong Kong, mums and dads who are constantly pushing their kids to over-achieve at school. Many of them are packing their kids’ after-school hours with endless extra-curricular activities and supplementary tutoring, with their children having little say in it.

I feel most Hong Kong kids don’t really get the freedom to enjoy their childhood. While I was growing up in Canada, we really had the chance to be ourselves and kids need that. They shouldn’t be burdened with their parents own unfulfilled ambitions.

Read: The 300 Most Powerful People in Hong Kong

Overall, then, do you see yourself as a laid-back parent?

No, not laid-back, but I do want my children to realise their full potential in as natural a way as possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean there are no ground rules. While I ensure that homework is done, I don’t force them to do things they don’t like. Inevitably, if you force your children into learning something they have no interest in, they will never excel at it.

Finally, as a successful entrepreneur with several businesses under your belt, what advice would you give to those looking to follow in your footsteps?

As an entrepreneur, you should never be afraid to fail. Not all businesses will succeed, and failure is part of the learning process. On top of that, you need a good business plan, solid finances and a willingness to work very hard indeed. Above all, though, learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to your next venture.


The full version of this interview appears on Gafencu Magazine’s March 2018 print issue as “Class Act” by Suchetana Mukhopadhyay. You can download the free app for digital editions of the magazine.