The busi­ness of ex­cel­lence

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­

Due to the slower growth of the Chi­nese econ­omy, do­ing busi­ness on the main­land has be­come more dif­fi­cult, and com­pa­nies on the Chi­nese main­land as well as in Hong Kong should evolve to adapt to the new en­vi­ron­ment.

That is the ad­vice from Joseph Luc aka “Joe” Ngai, di­rec­tor and man­ag­ing part­ner of McKin­sey & Com­pany Hong Kong.

“We have had a fan­tas­tic 10 years of growth, what I would call ‘un­leash­ing’ of ur­ban­iza­tion and the power of the mid­dle class; a lot of in­fras­truc­ture projects have been built. I think we had a golden 10 years,” Ngai told China Daily.

The next 10 years will be an even more chal­leng­ing time, Ngai be­lieves. He said the Chi­nese econ­omy is ob­vi­ously ad­just­ing right now, from an in­vest­ment-led model to a con­sump­tion-led one.

Sev­eral in­dus­tries are un­der pres­sure right now, either be­cause of over­sup­ply or weak­en­ing de­mand, Ngai noted.

“Peo­ple are not used to this slightly slower pace of growth, as we are used to the ‘easy growth’ — that even if you were just sit­ting there, growth would come to you. Th­ese days you have to go and find ‘growth’, which is a very dif­fer­ent way of ap­proach­ing it.”

He be­lieves that Hong Kong in par­tic­u­lar has been af­fected by the slow­ing eco­nomic growth on the main­land, and the city has al­ready seen ma­jor im­pact on the re­tail

bat­tle with. I want peo­ple who can fight, and who can get back up eas­ily.”

McKin­sey is also look­ing for lead­ers. Ngai noted that the com­mer­cial world has too many man­agers and too few lead­ers will­ing to take a stand, peo­ple who do not mind be­ing wrong some­times, peo­ple who would rather lead than fol­low.

Ngai ad­mit­ted that work­ing in con­sult­ing firms can be very stress­ful some­times.

“Work­ing hard is part of our pro­fes­sion, you can’t be side. He pointed out that Hong Kong has so long been work­ing as an in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween the main­land and the rest of the world. But th­ese days a lot of busi­nesses are go­ing di­rectly to the main­land, and Hong Kong’s po­si­tion as a mid­dle­man has also evolved over time, Ngai said.

“I think about the last 10 years as a rel­a­tively easy and pros­per­ous time, and right now we’ve reached a stage where we see a lot of new busi­nesses, while many old busi­nesses are fac­ing a lot of chal­lenges, and com­pa­nies will have to rein­vent them­selves. It is a stress­ful time but it is also an in­ter­est­ing time.”

Ngai be­lieves that all of McKin­sey’s cus­tomers have al­ready re­al­ized that the en­vi­ron­ment has changed, and that do­ing busi­ness will get harder. The mobile age, the In­ter­net and dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tions have changed the way con­sumers in­ter­act with the firm.

“So I think com­pa­nies do not need us to re­mind them of what is hap­pen­ing, what is in­ter­est­ing is that there are some very se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions go­ing on around rein­vent­ing them­selves, around adapt­ing them­selves, around chang­ing the mix of their busi­nesses, chang­ing the com­bi­na­tion of the man­age­ment team to adapt to this new world.”

From that per­spec­tive, he said McKin­sey is a good con­sult­ing part­ner to help them go through this, as it is use­ful to find a third party to look at things on their be­half with a fresh pair of eyes.

We have had a fan­tas­tic 10 years of growth, what I would call ‘un­leash­ing’ of ur­ban­iza­tion and the power of the mid­dle class, a lot of in­fras­truc­ture projects have been built. I think we had a golden 10 years.”

in­tim­i­dated by hard work. I don’t think that our peo­ple reg­u­larly work 100- hour weeks, but ob­vi­ously there are weeks that re­quire 100hour work, and you have to be ready for it.”

He said the most im­por­tant thing to un­der­stand for those work­ing in con­sult­ing firms is that when there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­lax a bit — you have to seize them.

De­spite be­ing a busy ex­ec­u­tives, Ngai has a lot of di­verse in­ter­ests. For in­stance, sports

is very im­por­tant to him — he plays soc­cer twice a week, he en­joys play­ing golf, and has re­cently also started to run with friends.

For a leader and a role model at McKin­sey, hav­ing a di­verse so­cial life is also very im­por­tant, he said, adding that he does some com­mu­nity work in Hong Kong on his own time, which gives him both en­ergy and in­spi­ra­tion.

Con­tact the writer at so­phiehe@chi­nadai­


Joseph Ngai says McKin­sey is an at­trac­tive em­ployer as it is a flat or­ga­ni­za­tion, with not too many lay­ers be­tween new­com­ers and se­nior staff, and also of­fers ex­cit­ing travel op­por­tu­ni­ties, apart from a wide va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­po­sure to the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

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