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that her previous
role as finance
her with solid
September 2013 37
our management team to aggressively man-
age costs and improve our operational effi-
ciencies by making, for example, use of tech-
nology to replace labour,” she explains. “ The
business is growing so we are relying more
on skilled labour and technology to help us to
minimize or maintain costs.”
Cheung says that the company hasn’t been
significantly affected by the global financial
crisis and has been able to concentrate on con-
stantly renovating the venue and adapting to
the requirements of different types of events.
One element that is increasing steadily is
the demand for advanced information and
communication technology ser vices in the
venue for events such as corporate confer-
ences. “ There’s an increasing demand from
organizers for advanced video conferencing
and live broadcasting,” she says.
Standing out from the crowd
Cheung’s willingness to experience the unfa-
miliar has got her to where she is today. She
studied quantitative finance at the Chinese
University of Hong Kong, where a recruitment
talk involving the Big Four took place. “My
roommate, who was studying accounting, in-
vited me to the talk to see if I’d be interested in
it,” she recalls.
“At that time, I hadn’t decided which ca-
reer path I wanted to take,” she adds. The talk
subsequently led to Cheung working as an au-
ditor at KPMG after graduating. She became
an Institute member in 2005.
The experience she gained as an auditor
gave her a broad insight into how companies
such as AsiaWorld-Expo Management are
run. “I was able to look into the business of
different companies, understand their opera-
tions and how their numbers work... it all ap-
plies to my position right now,” she explains.
Cheung later realized that learning how
to apply the skill sets she acquired as a CPA in
a business environment and how to negoti-
ate and close a business deal were other ar-
eas that she wanted to explore. She took up
the offer to join AsiaWorld-Expo, a former
audit client, as a finance manager in 2008.
The idea of working at a medium-sized
Anyone who has been caught in the bustling hordes clutching their grab bags
full of goodies near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wanchai
could assume that the city leads the world in the events business.
In fact, Vienna is the no. 1 MICE — meetings, incentives, conferences and events
— city in the world, hosting 195 major events in 2012, according to the International
Congress and Convention Association in Amsterdam. In Asia-Pacific, Singapore
is the event leader (and no. 6 in the world) with 150 events last year, followed by
Beijing (109 events), Bangkok (105), Seoul (100) and Hong Kong (96).
Indeed, growth in Hong Kong’s market slowed in 2012, amid global economic
uncertainties. “Given the difficulties that many companies have faced in recent
times, the fact that our Hong Kong exhibition industry has held its ground over
the last year is certainly an encouraging outcome,” Daniel Cheung, chairman of
the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, said in July when
the data were released.
Nevertheless, more than 1.72 million convention visitors came to Hong Kong
last year for at least an overnight stay, 9 percent more than in 2011. “A number
of important new exhibitions are bringing new visitors and exhibitors to Hong
Kong after a steady last year,” Cheung added. More than 40 percent of MICE
visitors are from the Mainland, with another third from elsewhere in Asia-Pacific,
according to the association’s figures.
The city is host to some of the largest exhibitions in the world, such as the
Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair and Hong Kong Autumn Electronics Fair.
The watch, fashion, beauty product and leather industries also host massive
exhibitions in the city.
Professional conferences are also a mainstay of the city’s MICE industry,
regularly drawing doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers and even accountants
from all over the globe: Hong Kong hosted the highly successful World Congress
of Accountants in 2002.
Hong Kong’s main venues for MICE events are the Convention and Exhibition
Centre, AsiaWorld-Expo and the Kowloonbay International Trade and Exhibition
Centre. A new venue is planned for above the proposed Exhibition MTR station in
the Wanchai North reclamation after 2020.
While venues such as the convention centre and AsiaWorld-Expo have picked
up industry awards, there have been some criticisms from abroad. Hong Kong
venues tend to be smaller than those in many competing Asia-Pacific cities: with
14,000 seats, AsiaWorld-Expo is the largest indoor performance space in Hong
Kong, while the 40,000 -seat Hong Kong Stadium is the largest open-air venue.
In April, incoming Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman Peter Lam said
Madonna turned down offers to perform here in 2006 because the local arenas
are too small. (She sold out the 50,000 -seat Osaka Dome and 71,000 -seat Tokyo
Dome twice over for her only Asia-Pacific concerts.) That, of course, didn’t stop
the even more popular Lady Gaga from selling out four concerts at AsiaWorld-
Expo in May 2012.
HONG KONG HOLDS ITS OWN
IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET
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