It was a spectacular picture of the Hong Kong night scene that first attracted Malaysian-born Jean Ng to the city. It was soon clear that her strong personality and go-getting nature were a perfect fit for Hong Kong's dynamic pace and many opportunities.
It took Ms Ng only 15 years to move up from her first job as training officer to her current role as managing director of global professional solutions provider Experian Hong Kong and Taiwan.
"It is my motto to have no regrets in life. When presented with an opportunity, I take it and devote myself to making the most of it," she says, describing herself as a "sensible" person. "I tend to look for solutions rather than responding to difficulties in an emotional way."
After finishing high school in Malaysia, Ms Ng knew exactly where she was heading. "Time is precious and so I must achieve my goals in the most effective manner. As it would take me two to three years more to graduate from university in Malaysia, I took a detour and chose to further my studies at the University of Sydney in Australia," she says. She obtained her business degree at the age of 21.
"I enjoy variety and therefore decided to major in business. But I like to have a contingency plan for everything, so I also minored in human resources so that I knew there's an alternative," she recalls.
Ms Ng's first job offer for a training officer position was from a Hong Kong-based Taiwanese company. She only took the plunge after her accommodation in the city was arranged. "Only once I know day-to-day survival has been taken care of can I go on to talk about my dreams," she states.
"I fell in love with Hong Kong at first sight, before the plane had even touched down at Kai Tak Airport," she notes. Equipped with basic skills in Cantonese at the time, Ms Ng soon adapted and started thinking about advancing her career.
"Everyone in Hong Kong moves fast and I realised then I needed to get ahead," she stresses.
"Look for solutions rather than responding to difficulties in an emotional way"
She believes people should always have a solid reason to change jobs. "I'm always looking for new opportunities to take greater responsibilities and new challenges but most importantly, it is an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge that ultimately drive me to go the extra miles," she says.
Before she joined Experian in 2005, Ms Ng was exposed to industries such as manufacturing, finance, insurance, retail and consulting services. She has worked in different countries, including Japan, Singapore, mainland China and the US.
While working in human resources, she began to assume regional roles with only five or six years' work experience. "To a certain extent, I'm a workaholic," she admits.
In April this year, Ms Ng was given the opportunity to move up from a regional HR position to a general management role while helping Experian to explore the new Taiwan market. She had earlier been offered the company's global HR role in London but opted to take the challenge of driving business in specific markets. "I thought I would be bored if I continued maintaining HR functions so I didn't hesitate to accept the offer," she explains.
In her new role as managing director, she helps to identify new business growth areas in Hong Kong and Taiwan and map out business goals and strategies, in addition to her existing HR responsibilities.
With offices in 38 countries and 15,500 employees worldwide, Experian provides information, as well as analytical and marketing services, to organisations and consumers. Considering the huge potential for growth of marketing services in Hong Kong, Ms Ng will be recruiting experienced and innovative marketing people to join the company.
In the meantime, she looks forward to probing into the Taiwan market with her team, but states that she can see herself becoming less hands-on once she has set the direction and growth strategies. "Members of my team are all excellent individuals and they are the wind beneath my wings," she says. "Regardless of the size and scale of a project, once the goals and directions are set, we will have the confidence to move on to the implementation stage."
Ms Ng's efficient work ethic and strong determination are some of the personal attributes that helped her advance in her career, and people remain central to her life. Apart from work, she enjoys happy hours with her colleagues, home cooking and going to the cinema.
She concedes that the only sacrifice she had made for her work in Hong Kong is the time she gets to spend with her family in Malaysia. "But then we spend quality time together once in a while and our gatherings are always heart-warming," she says.