When we opened our first overseas office in Singapore in 1996, we didn’t have a business plan.
We didn’t even have a spreadsheet with properly crunched numbers.
What we did have was a strength of conviction – think “all in” playing poker – that this part of the world would equal or even exceed the United States in terms of importance to the communications business.
I remember meeting with HP a few months after we planted our flag in Singapore hoping we might extend our U.S. assignment to Asia. When it seemed like small talk would consume the entire meeting, I forced the issue with a question about potential business. The gentleman from HP essentially called me a carpetbagger and said that if the Agency were still around in a year, he would meet with me again to discuss potential business. One year later, I sat down with the same guy. We never did secure an assignment from HP. At least he stopped calling me a carpetbagger.
Fast forwarding to today, the Agency enjoys a leadership position in the region.
While I’m not much of a numbers guy as foreshadowed above – thank goodness for our global VP of operations Lydia Lau and her team – I think our top-line revenue over the past 10 years does tell a story of how strength of conviction can push, nudge and sometimes kick an organization forward.
You’ll notice a few dips.
How do you prepare for SARS? How do you respond when regional leadership makes decisions out of step with the broader organization?
While the journey hasn’t always gone according to plan, we’ve been resilient with the ability to course correct.
The past 10 years have delivered a massive learning experience, both as an organization and personally, that makes an Ivy League MBA seem like a webinar.
Reflecting on the recent leg of the journey, it’s a tribute to our Asia Pacific team that they’ve produced a successful 2013 without a managing director as we’ve searched to fill this opening. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary effort of Shingo Nomura who heads our Japan office and served as the interim Asia Pacific MD. He was always there when needed. When I say “always,” that’s exactly what I mean. The same goes for Lydia who teamed with Shingo to fill this void.
Looking to the future, we’re enthused that Natalie Lowe will be joining the Agency as our Asia Pacific managing director (news release below).
As strong as we are in Asia, I’m convinced the best is yet to come.
November 4, 2013 – HONG KONG – The Hoffman Agency, an independent global public relations company, has appointed Natalie Lowe as managing director of Asia Pacific. Lowe will be responsible for leading strategic initiatives such as driving business growth, client services, operational management and staff development for Hoffman’s six wholly owned offices located in Beijing, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Shanghai and Singapore. Reporting directly to Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency, Lowe will assume her new role on January 6, 2014, and be based in Shanghai.
Prior to joining The Hoffman Agency, Lowe spent a number of years at United Technologies Corporation before joining Weber Shandwick, as vice president in China. In her most recent position, Natalie played a key role in the formation of the Emergent China Practice, as well as leading international campaigns and driving new business for Weber Shandwick’s clean tech and corporate practices.
“Given the crush of change in the communications industry, the status quo doesn’t cut it,” said Lou Hoffman, founder, The Hoffman Agency. “That’s why we hired Natalie. We needed someone with the smarts and guts to build upon our APAC foundation, retooling the operation with the needs of tomorrow’s clients in mind.”
“I’ve always liked the line from Wayne Gretzky, ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ That’s what we’re determined to do not only in Asia, but throughout our operation,” Hoffman added.
Lowe is an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators and continues to serve on various IABC committees. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales.