Emil possesses substantial experience in IT and banking administration. He entered the field of IT in the 1980s. In 1994, he took up a management position for Asia-Pacific in a German bank and was later promoted to First Vice President. When the financial tsunami in 2008 hit the global economy, the bank closed its business in Hong Kong. This huge wave did not knock down Emil, but gave him an opportunity to move his career into a new direction. ‘At that time, I was struggling to find the way forward and wondered whether I should stay in banking,’ he recalled. After careful consideration, he decided to set up his own company. Making good use of his business networks and experience, he started to provide consultancy services and organize start-up competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Fostering start-up talent
‘Many young start-up owners have great creative ideas, but their vision is somehow limited. The projects they developed were often too localized and they did not consider the issue of feasibility outside Hong Kong. As a result, getting funding for them became a problem,’ he said. Emil believes that success or failure also depends on talent, timing and the attitude towards failure. First of all, aspiring entrepreneurs should never fight alone. It is best to team up with like-minded partners and fight together. Secondly, timing is important. If a project is launched too early, investors may not be able to foresee the benefits that it will bring. But if it is launched too late, the opportunity may already have been seized upon by competitors. ‘Finally, they must not be afraid of failure, so that they can move forward courageously. They must also know how to gain experience from failure and avoid repeating the same mistakes,’ he added.
With his extensive social network, reputation and perceptive entrepreneurship insights, Emil has attracted many start-ups to knock on his door for advice. After his business has gained much success, he joined various kinds of public service to give back to society. Acting as a go-between and facilitator, Emil guided would-be founders and helped them realize their dreams. In 2019, he served as the chief judge for the Hong Kong ICT Awards (ICT Startup Award), reaching out to talented elites in the industry and encouraging them to participate in the competition. He is now providing consultancy service to Cyberport by serving as a member on its Entrepreneurship Committee Advisory Group. He is also a mentor of the Cyberport mentorship programme, providing guidance for start-ups and helping to nurture a new generation of IT innovators in various ways.
Promoting the development of fintech
Convinced that fintech can be a major driving force for the overall economy, Emil has been focusing on the development of fintech start-ups in recent years. ‘As early as 2010, when fintech was not yet popular in Hong Kong, I assisted mainland companies in listing on stock markets in places such as Europe and the US. I noticed that Hong Kong was lagging behind overseas markets in this regard. Later I taught e-commerce courses in the mainland and got to know more about the new economy there, and that experience was indeed an eye-opener for me. I was deeply inspired and began to ponder about Hong Kong's role as a bridge between the East and the West,’ he said. Emil lamented that Hong Kong's policies and regulatory agencies could not keep up with the times, and if the city fails to catch up, its status will be replaced by others. So he attended different forums to promote fintech, and also taught and wrote fintech courses and materials for several tertiary institutions and professional bodies. He is now an EMBA Adjunct Professor at the City University of Hong Kong.
Get prepared and grab the opportunity
In 1990, as Emil worked hard to advance his career in banking, he also enrolled in an undergraduate programme in applied computing at the OUHK. ‘My daughter was born during my studies. It wasn’t easy at home and at work. I spent 14 years to complete the programme and wouldn’t have been able to do so with less perseverance and tenacity,’ he frankly admitted. Emil finally graduated in 2004, paving the way for him to go even further in the days to come. ‘The OUHK not only provided me with more opportunities, but also a foundation for further studies.’ Emil went on to obtain an MBA from the US and is currently studying for a doctoral degree at Nanchang University in the mainland, specializing in regional economics. ‘Without the OUHK, I wouldn't be who I am today,’ he said sincerely.
For those alumni who are interested in starting a fintech business, Emil suggested paying attention to the development of digital Renminbi. He pointed out that if the central government makes this new currency fully functional, it will have a big impact on how global economic activities are conducted. That will be an excellent time for ICT innovators to launch relevant projects. ‘Do equip yourself and look for trends and developments. When the opportunity comes, it’s time to demonstrate your creativity and realize your entrepreneurial dream,’ he elucidated. The road to entrepreneurship is never smooth. Emil hopes that everyone can stay confident with an indefatigable spirit as they soldier on to pursue their goals.
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