By @. We caught up with Adtech recruitment entrepreneur James Lyon, to find out more about his experiences in growing a business in Hong Kong. Owner / MD Ultimate Asset UK / APAC – 20 years of digital media experience.
What is your business?
Multi-market talent acquisition business, specialising in executive search and contingency recruitment solutions for the digital marketing and tech sectors.
What you do in Hong Kong?
Focus on ‘launch’ projects for tech companies looking to build their ‘North Asia’ hubs, and senior level appointments for media and creative agencies. We leave the junior end of the market to clients with in-house recruitment capability and the more transactional / generalist firms.
How long have your operations been running in Hong Kong?
2 years in November
How have the last 12 months been, since we last featured you?
Luckily growing! Across the region we’re up 25% year-on-year with revenue, and have added headcount into high growth areas such as Data & Analytics. We’ve also just acquired a boutique, but highly targeted, adtech executive search firm in Australia, we’re investing heavily into this, with the view of scaling to be the same size as the Asia operation in less than 18 months.
Lastly through our London HQ we’re leveraging our US contact book, and have hired our first consultant to manage North America.
Why is Hong Kong a good place to do business?
Its pretty easy to do business as an ex-British colony, and obviously English is widely spoken.
The ecosystem its now better geared up for programmatic trading and able to support the latest adtech and mobile technology, hence a number of firms are getting boots on the ground, rather than just managing clients and campaigns from Singapore.
Its also a bit of a gateway into mainland China, which can de-risk an expensive and often uncertain entry strategy into that colossal market.
Lastly, as a key financial hub there is greater investment tipping into sectors such as Fintech, which is only going grow and open up more opportunity.
What tips would you give to businesses looking to open up an office in Hong Kong?
Find ‘middle man’ to handle the company setup, financials and legals etc, its more complex than launching in Singapore and the state process and filing systems are unbelievably archaic….our papers were completed on a typewriter (no kidding!), stamped, filed and boxed in a dusty government office! So better to have a local firm help navigate this process.
If you are sending in an executive from another market I’d recommend someone who doesn’t have kids, I’m probably too sanitised from the bubble of Singapore, but unless the company is prepared to pay top dollar for a bigger apartment / house outside of the CBD – its certainly a pretty hectic city.
In marketing, advertising and adtech don’t expect the regional budgets you have access to in Singapore, Hong Kong holds a smaller regional position for North Asia and is still catching up with Singapore with technology advancements – so budget accordingly.
In line with this, hiring at the senior end of the market is pretty steady, with a good range of talent. However there is a dearth of brilliant candidates in digital and tech at mid-level, so be prepared to open the cheque book up – candidates are VERY motivated by money, more so than any other market in Asia (from our experience).
What are your favourite places in Hong Kong to visit and spend time?
A run to the Peak is a great way to start the day, catch the sunrise, and dust of the cobwebs from the night before! Our office is on Wyndham St in Central, which is surrounded by great bars and restaurants – so always a great place for client entertainment. I’m never there at weekends, but I’m told the beaches are nice and there is some decent hiking.
How can people contact you?
You’ll probably slate me for this, but my Twitter account is rarely used – its all about FB and Li where we are……although as an old-school Brit, I much prefer to have a call!