How to navigate and thrive in Hong Kong and wider Asia | Tips from international business enabler, Drew Waters

Experienced international business enabler and former AustCham CEO Drew Waters stopped by the Aus-Asia Business Program to share a wealth of insights with listeners.

Once an architect who practiced in Australia and New Zealand, Waters decided to start anew when he packed up and relocated to Hong Kong as a trailing spouse. He wasted no time making the most of his fresh surroundings. Sensing an opportunity in the overseas market, he quickly initiated a successful start-up SME in the recruitment field where he placed board members around Asia.

Following his start-up achievements, Waters became the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and Macau (AustCham). He specialised in cultivating international business relations for AustCham members, helping to bridge the gap between Australian and Asian culture. After three years of outstanding service, Waters decided to return home to his family in Australia in July this year.

Waters said his work within the recruitment process overseas has allowed him to build a very strong network – something he believes is paramount in Hong Kong.

“Network is primary… if you can enter some sort of a network that also has some local content, that has feet on the ground, then you are going to be steps ahead of any of your competitors that do not do that,” he said.

Hong Kong is highly regarded as a great first step into Asian trading by Waters. Acknowledging the country’s reputation as a gateway to China, he believes there are a number of advantages for Australians in Hong Kong.

“There are a lot of advantages in Hong Kong that you don’t have in China. Direct access to a fairly large market for a start, but indirect access to an even larger market in China. The rule of law is very, very strong in Hong Kong, a low taxation regime, and ease of living.

“It’s much easier to [live] in a primarily English speaking environment than going straight into China.”

Now back in Australia, Waters has turned his attention to finding roles in international trade and investment or NGO Management, while also continuing to assist Australians looking to deal in Asia.

He left listeners with his three biggest tips for thriving overseas:

“Make sure you have maintained, built and activated your network.

“Make sure you’re asking the right questions.

“Make a strong link to organisations.”

Listen to Drew Waters’ full interview below-