2015 Asia Conference

APSMA Asia Conference 2015: “The Power of Connectivity”

Thursday 21 May 2015, Hong Kong.

The ‘Power of Connectivity’ was on display at the third annual APSMA Asia Conference.  The largest gathering in Asia for marketing and BD practitioners in professional services firms, the event brought together more than 200 people for a day-long programme of learning, sharing and networking at Hong Kong’s Parklane, a Pullman Hotel.

The theme of this year’s event ‘Connectivity’ highlights the conjoining role professional services firms play for their clients. It’s that ability to help them find common threads running through diverse issues to shape new opportunities and solve important problems.

APSMA members had the privilege of hearing from a wide array of speakers; experts in social media, change management, culture, communications, business development, and managing major enterprises. Each shared their unique perspectives on how connectivity can be a powerful and transformative force for growing professional services in Asia.

What does a radio DJ have in common with a BD professional? A great deal if you ask Lisa Leong, Client Development and Pursuits Lead at Herbert Smith Freehills. Leong, who has worked both as a lawyer and broadcaster, shared some of her most memorable moments in a career that has spanned the UK and Australia. From her days as an IP lawyer, to her apprenticeship as a trainee DJ, Lisa’s has been characterised by a laser-like focus and determination to succeed. Her presentation charted the top 10 traits needed to survive and thrive in two very diverse industries. These were: courage, decision making ability, perseverance, creativity, teamwork, planning, connectivity, empathy, curiosity, and passion.

Lisa’s session was followed by a discussion on an issue many professional services firms are grappling with: the extent to which social media can help win new business. Peter Thal Larsen, Asia Editor, Thomsen Reuters, was joined by Chris Davis, Senior Media Relations Manager at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Nickey Khemchandani, Digital Marketing Specialist at BSD Academy and Guy Parsonage, CEO of Fluid, to explore their views. Panellists agreed that social media could indeed be a catalyst for winning work. But the dynamic nature of Asia’s digital landscape meant that such strategies required constant monitoring and revision to ensure its relevance to target stakeholders. Content customisation was another key consideration due to significant differences across mediums such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The panel also stressed the importance of carefully managing budgets as costs could quickly escalate, potentially eroding any ROI gains.

This year’s Conference featured an expanded programme, which enabled participants to select from two breakout sessions. The first stream, “Moving Minds”, delivered by Matt Lyons and Mark Weston of Arcadia, explored sustainable change in organisations. In an interactive session, delivered with humour and common sense, Matt and Mark broke down core insights into how people behave, the power of groups and the mechanisms that can change behaviour. Through practical exercises participants explored simple but meaningful insights covering neuroscience, anthropology and psychology that are known to be fundamental to engaging people at an emotional level and building successful change in organisations. 

The second stream was facilitated by three seasoned communications professionals - Lauren Chung, Executive Director at Ryan Communication; Florence Huang, Director of Global PR at AlixPartners; and Tricia Weener, Head of Marketing, ASPAC at HSBC. This was a practical workshop on developing a comprehensive communications strategy and action plan where participants were asked to examine their communications scenario using three lenses: people, process and position. 

As professional services firms continue to expand their Asia footprint and build more diverse workforces, the next session was of particular significance: “Cultural Connectivity: High performing teams in a global environment”. Sean Dubberke, Director of Learning at RW3 CultureWizard, delivered a presentation on the nuanced and multi-faceted challenges firms face in expanding their regional footprints. Sean was then joined by Katie Rosser, Director of Seldon Rosser, and Steven Ng, Learning and Development Head, Baker & McKenzie, to discuss how global companies could drive greater value from workforce diversity. Panellists agreed that an important first step was embedding cultural awareness practices into hiring and training policies.

The final session of the Conference explored the power and value of connectivity through the eyes of the client. Nadine Lecocq, Head of Business Development, PwC moderated a distinguished panel of senior executives featuring Tina Lee Jebely, Executive Director of Credit Agricole CIB; Angelina Kwan, Vice Chair at The Women’s Foundation; and Gill Meller, Legal Director & Secretary at MTR Corporation. Panellists highlighted several practical and strategic considerations for firms to grow and enhance their client relationships. This includes ensuring advice is specific and relevant to the clients’ needs; maintaining regular contact before, during and after an engagement; keeping an open mind to constructive criticism; seeking independent feedback; ensuring costs are transparent; and thinking of ways to engage clients through topical seminars and events.


We look forward to seeing you in 2016!


Best regards

The APSMA HK Committee



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