Life at Prophet: Lessons from Living 6 Months in Hong Kong
There are many reasons why I love working at Prophet, but one that I’ve experienced recently is the company’s rotation program, which allows staff to spend six months working out of any of its offices around the globe.
I was lucky enough to be able to participate in this program, and spent six months at our Hong Kong office. It was a truly amazing chapter in my life. And now that I’m back home in Atlanta, I wanted to share a few highlights, observations and general musings from my time in Hong Kong.
What I Learned from Living in Hong Kong
1. Keep Communications Simple and Clear
In the U.S., most of our clients are familiar with how consultants work and the lingo we use. However, in Asia it’s a different story. Consulting is a fairly young and still developing practice, and as a result, projects in Asia require us to take extra time upfront aligning around project objectives, expectations and deliverables. Additionally, a lack of familiarity with “consultant speak” amplified an existing language barrier, and drove home the importance of using clear, concise language at all times.
My experiences in Hong Kong taught me these lessons, but they translate to my work in the States too. After all, I’m sure our U.S. and European-based clients would like less “consultant speak” as well.
2. Build Bonds with Colleagues Across the Globe
During my time in Hong Kong, I organized regular “get-togethers” with other associates in the office. These meetings served several purposes, but primarily, they helped strengthen the relationships among the office’s more junior team members. Discussion topics ranged from restaurant advice to training needs to how to deal with specific project challenges – and all were conducted with the confidence that the conversations would remain confidential.
Given the speed at which Prophet’s Hong Kong office is growing, this initiative helped both strengthen the office’s culture and my personal bond with those colleagues. When we take the time to get to know those around us, both personally and professionally, it helps us work better together and deliver stronger results for clients.
3. Be Sensitive to Cultural Differences
Before moving to Hong Kong, I had only spent a few weeks in different parts of Asia as a tourist. While I loved those experiences, I never fully immersed myself in the culture of the places I visited. But as I started to work on client projects in Hong Kong, I quickly learned just how different consumers are across the region. For example, while developing the brand positioning for one client, we had to take into account the cultural and behavioral differences of consumers across Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
This experience served as a not-so-subtle reminder that consumers’ needs, preferences, and attitudes can vary greatly, and we must think carefully about how to create strategies and content that will resonate in local markets.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Dive In
I’ll be the first to admit that moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone was a scary proposition at first. However, I quickly embraced the opportunity to fuel my growth – both personally and professionally. During my time in Hong Kong, I learned a few important things, like key words in Cantonese (such as my street name, thank you, and yummy), the perils of riding the MTR during rush hour, and that an “easy” hike in Hong Kong can lead to significant pain.
By diving in and fully immersing myself in the culture, I was able to make the most of my opportunity. After six months in Hong Kong I left with zero regrets because I was able to overcome my fear. I hope that I can continue to embrace each and every opportunity and seize the moment every day. I know this attitude will serve me well in the future, in both my professional and personal life.
Overall, I would recommend that if you ever have the opportunity, try and make your way to Hong Kong for work or pleasure. The people I met there are fun, kind and supportive. Hong Kong is a city that quickly won me over and I hope that everyone has a chance to experience it for themselves!
If you are interested in career opportunities at Prophet, please check out our current vacancies.