Meet Gen­er­a­tion T

In­tro­duc­ing the game-chang­ing young tal­ent on Hong Kong Tatler’s Gen­er­a­tion T List. This month—a mod­ern-day ex­plorer and im­pact in­vestor who’s driven by an in­sa­tiable de­sire for dis­cov­ery

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

Mod­ern-day ex­plorer Paul Niel is an im­pact in­vestor driven by an in­sa­tiable de­sire for dis­cov­ery

Paul Niel is an im­pact in­vestor, a tech­nol­o­gist and a mo­ti­va­tional speaker. Paul, how­ever, prefers the term “ad­ven­turer.” Given his long list of ac­com­plish­ments, which in­clude con­quer­ing Ever­est and sail­ing across the At­lantic, the ti­tle is richly de­served.

Five years ago, Paul left be­hind a ca­reer in bank­ing to pur­sue his pas­sion for ex­plo­ration. Driven by a de­sire to make a pos­i­tive im­pact, he now uses his fi­nan­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise, as well as his un­quench­able thirst for ad­ven­ture, to sup­port the causes and com­pa­nies he be­lieves in. Here, Paul in­tro­duces his work in his own words. I would say I’m “omni-in­ter­ested.”

I en­gage in projects around ex­plo­ration and new tech­nolo­gies, and try to com­bine the two when I can. My projects may look very dis­parate on the out­side, but there’s a com­mon line that runs through them all— the search for ad­ven­ture. I’m driven by dis­cov­ery.

I’m al­ways look­ing for new things, whether it’s a new ap­pli­ca­tion of a tech­nol­ogy or an ex­pe­di­tion into an un­charted area. I marry the knowl­edge I have from my fi­nan­cial back­ground with my in­ter­est in tech­nol­ogy to sup­port projects that I think are truly change-mak­ing. The “im­pos­si­ble” lies be­yond all the things that have al­ready been ex­plored or done be­fore. It’s the jour­ney that counts much more than the goal.

If you just fo­cus on reach­ing a goal, you un­der­mine the whole project. If you’re work­ing at a bank for the bonus at the end of the year, sooner or later that’s not go­ing to be enough. If you’re climb­ing Ever­est and the only thing that counts is reach­ing the sum­mit, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to get there. I’m a statis­ti­cian,

so a lot of my life has been spent cal­cu­lat­ing risk. I ac­tu­ally con­sider my­self quite risk-averse, although ap­pear­ances might sug­gest oth­er­wise. Rather, I’m all about crazy ideas and dream­ing big—then I like to make big ideas a re­al­ity, with the nec­es­sary risk ad­just­ments. For me, suc­cess is stay­ing true to my val­ues,

mak­ing an im­pact and main­tain­ing the bal­anced life­style I want to pur­sue. There’s a Dutch word, gezel­lig, for a con­cept that’s im­por­tant in my life. There’s no di­rect trans­la­tion in English, but it means be­ing in a com­fort­able place, some­where you have bal­ance. There’s no ben­e­fit to hav­ing mil­lions of dol­lars and be­ing the boss of what­ever if you’re not con­tent with what you have and do. My most re­cent ex­pe­di­tion

fol­lowed the foot­steps of Roy Chap­man An­drews, an Amer­i­can ad­ven­turer who ex­plored the Gobi Desert 100 years ago in search of di­nosaur fos­sils. Two sci­en­tists on our imag­ing team, who used to work for Nasa on the Mars rover mis­sion, used drones and mul­ti­spec­tral cam­eras to find 250 new fos­sil lo­ca­tions and po­ten­tially three new species. The fos­sils are still be­ing ex­am­ined at the lab. Walk­ing through the sand and dis­cov­er­ing a di­nosaur fos­sil (sim­i­lar to the one pic­tured), bones that have been rest­ing in the same lo­ca­tion for 60 mil­lion years, is an in­de­scrib­able feel­ing.

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