Angela Spaxman swapped the forests of Canada for the urban jungle of Hong Kong when she arrived with her husband Dave in 1996. On seeing the opportunities here, the former logging engineer retrained as an executive coach and set up her own venture, Angela Spaxman Business & Career Coaching. Now, with a lifestyle she loves and a client list that includes many high-profile corporates – among them L’Oreal, Modern Terminals, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and TNT Freight Management- she explains why coming to Hong Kong was the best decision of her life.
“When Dave’s company gave us the choice of moving to any city in Asia, we chose Hong Kong. Having previously spent six months here in 1993, we knew there were plenty of business opportunities for English speakers. In many other Asian cities it is very hard or even impossible to break into business without being a local. In Hong Kong, foreigners are welcomed and have many opportunities to get involved. It is very easy to meet people and make connections. A foreigner who speaks English can make meaningful contributions to the community almost immediately upon arrival as the expat community is very active and well integrated.
Another important draw for me to Hong Kong is that it has excellent access to hiking and other outdoor activities. And the environment is better than some other cities in the region.
I’d been searching for a career that would keep inspiring me, and from the moment I started my coaching business, I knew I was on track. I found a lot of support in Hong Kong for setting up my business. There is easy access to business support groups full of experienced people who are willing to share their expertise and provide encouragement. For example, my friends in the Women Business Owners Club, the Hong Kong Achievers Toastmasters Club and the Hong Kong International Coaching Community all provided invaluable support in different ways and at different stages of my development. Hong Kong also has a lot of inspiring entrepreneurs to learn from, and a can-do attitude among the business community. Government regulations around business set-up are very easy and transparent.
Through my company I work with managers, professionals, and business owners who want to love their jobs and excel. My clients could be accelerating their learning about management and leadership skills; inspiring, empowering and developing their team members; or creating careers that suit them perfectly. Hong Kong is the ideal base for a professional services business such as mine. As a hub for so many international businesses and high-level executives in all kinds of organisations, it is an excellent place for connecting with ambitious and successful people who are investing in business and their own development.
From an entrepreneur’s viewpoint, Hong Kong has a practical,business-minded culture that makes it easy to meet people, find support and encouragement, and create alliances. It has transparent, reliable business infrastructure, and is perfect for networking. It’s easy to meet lots of different people who are interested in meeting other people and are very aware of the value of connections in making business opportunities, learning and expanding horizons. Another reason is that with the mix of cultures in the international community, there are fewer barriers to communication caused by shyness or cultural introversion.
In the past four years, my revenue has doubled as more individuals want to change or improve their careers so they are fulfilled and performing at their best, and corporates invest in management and leadership development in order to improve organisational effectiveness. At the same time, I have a very enjoyable lifestyle with the work/life balance I prefer. Personally, I love the transport system here and the ability to get anywhere in the city so quickly and easily using trains, buses, trams and even boats. I also really enjoy the outdoors in Hong Kong.There are hundreds of kilometres of excellent and varied hiking trails throughout the territory that are well marked and easily accessible. It’s also possible to find challenging climbs and spectacular beaches and waterfalls.
Hong Kong has given me the opportunity to find very rewarding work and to extend myself personally through the challenges of creating my own ideal career. And, it is a place where my husband has been able to do the same. My decision to come to Hong Kong and start a business was a key turning point which enabled me to establish a business and career far beyond what I had imagined originally.”