Frank Eggmann heads up Swiss Hub In Hong Kong
Frank Eggmann is the Head of Swiss Business Hub Hong Kong for the Consulate General of Switzerland. The Swiss Global Enterprise works all over the world to support entrepreneurs and promote Switzerland as a business location. Mr. Eggmann’s role as create a centre of excellence for internationalisation is to foster exports, imports and investments, to help clients develop new potential for their international businesses and to strengthen Switzerland as an economic hub.
The Swiss Business Hub in Hong Kong is a strong and trusted partner for their clients, the cantons and the Swiss government, with a global network of experienced advisers and experts.
Tell us a little bit about your background
For the past 30 years I have been living the life of “nomads of modern times”. My career within the Foreign Service of Switzerland (FDFA – Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) took me to several postings in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Europe as well as shorter missions, mainly for crisis management, in Libya, Palestine and Lebanon.
How did you get to running Head of the Swiss Business Hub (SBH) in Hong Kong?
Prior to my relocation to Hong Kong in 2012 I was Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Switzerland in Malaysia, in a diplomatic function rather than a purely business related activity. Being a dynamic person who enjoys real action, the vibrant Asian business environment attracts me and I had a strong desire to being part of this “going East movement”. Is there any better place than Hong Kong for this? Any better position than officially helping Swiss SME’s in their venturing to Asia? I don’t think so! So I consider myself very fortunate being able to work in Hong Kong.
What are the main objectives of the SBH?
The Swiss Business Hub Hong Kong is the representative of the Swiss trade and investment promotion agency Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE). Part of the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong, it is responsible for implementing Swiss export strategies. Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) www.s-ge.com is a Swiss Government Agency entrusted with the development facilitation and promotion of trade abroad. Our mission is to support the internalization of Swiss firms, emphasizing on small and medium enterprises, and their consolidation in foreign markets, ensuring the “Made in Switzerland” concept is known to the world. Our range of services is tailored to SME’s needs. We represent the company and its interests in Hong Kong (HK) with local knowledge and expertise. We establish contacts on their behalf, work for their products, organize sectorial events, carry out marketing intelligence studies and mediate as honest brokers.
As Switzerland strengthens its presence in Hong Kong how do you see your role facilitating this process?
We have a saying in Hong Kong stating: “If you sell in HK, you will sell in China!” The objective for the majority of companies is to venture into China but often their limited resources don’t allow it in a first attempt. Thus they decide to begin with HK, knowing the city is not only a regional trendsetter but it is also ideally located at the heart of Asian business and consumerism, just an hour train ride away from Mainland China. As a “door opener” in a very saturated market, the SBH will analyse the potential of any Swiss initiative, establish links to possible serious partners and support the Swiss company in its first steps. Competition is fierce but innovative solutions; services or goods with the “Swiss Made” stamp are welcome here. Engaging as the Trade Commissioner for Switzerland in HK with the local business community definitely helps in terms of bridging the cultures and discovering sound synergies.
Global business means global communication. What do you think is the toughest challenge when communicating across cultures?
It often seems that the art of listening is fading away and that people only listen to prepare their answer rather than listening to understand. The Chinese character for the word “listen” shows an ear, an eye and the heart – that says it all. As foreigners coming to Asia, or to any other culture around the globe, it is utterly important to take along a certain dose of humility instead of arriving with a ready-made state of mind or a “know-better” attitude. You may have the best product but it is you who will make all the difference.
Could you describe a difficult challenge in your life and how you got over it?
As a mountaineer having conquered a few high summits, I know it is not possible to stumble over a mountain but only over stones. In a difficult situation I will take a pragmatic approach and sometimes give the whole happening a bit of time. A new day usually brings new ideas and solutions.
In your opinion what are the real challenges for Swiss businesses in Asia?
Definitely the pricing and the convincing emphasis on the Swiss quality label. But at the end, who wouldn’t accept an upgrade from “economy-class” to business for an extra 10 percent difference?
What is the best piece of advice you ever got?
Only give an advice when you are asked for it!
What’s next for us?
Our society has reached such a level of wealth and knowledge that we will soon have to focus on the golden rule that less is more. The global trend is to live a healthier and happier life and there are certainly mainly niche markets and opportunity in this sector as well.
What’s next for you?
Two captivating mandates await the action of the Swiss Business Hub; I look forward discovering another pair of beautiful gems of Swiss technology and engage with fellow business people in Hong Kong to test their potential in Asia. And I shall enjoy every single day here, probably for the next two years. Let me know if you need our support!
Article by Sunita Sehmi