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Ep015: “Redefining the future of education” with Natalie Chan, Founder & CEO of OWN Academy

In this episode I’m delighted to chat with Natalie Chan, Founder & CEO of OWN Academy and one of the most inspiring education innovators in Hong Kong. OWN Academy bridges classrooms and the real world by giving secondary school students practical industry experience with companies like New York Times and Cartoon Network, helping them to discover their unique talents and career path. Natalie will be sharing more about their programmes and industry partnerships, the challenges and future for OWN Academy, and her experience and insights from Davos.

What we talked about: 

  • Natalie’s career journey going from corporate to becoming a film producer, to discovering her passion for education 

  • The power of media in helping her create positive impact that reaches many more people 

  • Do 12 year olds kids of this generation really know what they want to do with their lives? How OWN Academy help students discover their talents and the wide range of career opportunities that are available

  • How they are making it possible for secondary school students to get experience working with companies like New York Times and Cartoon Network

  • Natalie’s criterias when choosing companies to work with 

  • OWN Academy’s biggest challenges and goals as a forward thinking education innovator

  • Natalie’s own role models and mentors

  • Her experience at Davos and insights on education and future of work

Natalie’s advice for mission driven creative entrepreneurs:

” Figure out your business model first (…) Ultimately to be sustainable and really make an impact you have to have a business model that supports it, so figure out how to make money. “

End of Season 1

This is the final episode of Season 1 of The Innovate for Growth Podcast. We’re going to be taking a short break while preparing our next season with some amazing guests lined up, including an international children’s character and TV show creator, a Tai Chi master and an author documenting the stories of Hong Kong’s traditional tradesmen and women. Until then, stay tuned!

Ep 014: “How Press Freedom Concerns Led To The Very First Crowd Funded News Organisation in HK” with Tom Grundy, Hong Kong Free Press

In this episode, I talked to Tom Grundy, Founder and Editor in Chief of Hong Kong Free Press, the only crowd funded English news media organisation in Hong Kong. We’re going to chat about what led him to start HKFP, how it’s been able to sustain itself as a non-profit news organisation with a growing presence in Hong Kong, and his thoughts on innovation and technologies when it comes to journalism.

What we talked about:

  • Tom’s inspiration behind starting HKFP and his entrepreneurship journey from being an English teacher and popular Hong Kong culture blogger who started ‘Hong Wrong’ blog to launching a news media startup
  • Building multiple income streams to ensure HKFP can be self sustainable as a non-profit
  • The importance of transparency and reducing barriers for people to donate when raising money through crowd funding
  • Changing consumer attitude towards paying for quality journalism
  • Recent political climate and local protests resulted in an increase in job applicants
  • Growing their audience through having a presence on multiple social media platforms and automating social media content publishing
  • His thoughts on innovation in journalism and the challenge of adapting new technologies as a news startup
  • Opportunities for news and media startups in Hong Kong

Tom’s tip on what it takes to be a good journalist:
Have the discipline to remain as objective and neutral as possible.


Hong Kong Free Press

Ep 013: “Empowering Women Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries” with Helen McEachern, CEO of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

In this episode, I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat to Helen McEachern, CEO of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women who just happened to be stopping by Hong Kong.

As a charity dedicated to economic empowerment of women in developing countries through supporting women entrepreneurship, Helen will be sharing more about the challenges of gender discrimination that leads to financial exclusion for women, why entrepreneurship is a necessity rather than privilege in developing countries, and her work in ensuring that women entrepreneurs have the skills required to build successful businesses through connecting them with mentors from around the world. 

What we talked about:

  • Why economic empowerment is an important part of women’s rights and equalities particularly in developing countries
  • Unique challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs
  • How to combat against gender discrimination that leads to financial exclusion
  • The role of education in empowering women entrepreneurs 
  • Connecting mentors from around the world to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries remotely by leveraging their online community platform and video calls
  • Their biggest challenge as a charity: Funding 
  • Creating awareness as a charity foundation and leveraging technology to increase the reach of their online learning content

Helen’s advice for Social Entrepreneurs:

  • Think through the impact you want to have, is there anyone else doing it? Can you join forces with them? It’s great to start your own business but also look into partnerships, collectives and social enterprises. There are lots of different models to make social impact and create a livelihood for yourself.
  • Running a business/charity is not always easy – make sure you can get access to the learning you need to be successful

Full show notes and links for this episode available here.

Ep 012: “Solving Social Issues through Kindness” with Jeff Rotmeyer, ImpactHK & Love 21 Foundation

In this episode, I talked to Jeff Rotmeyer, an extraordinary school teacher turned social entrepreneur who started two NGOs on the same day. Jeff is the Founder & CEO of ImpactHK, an NGO that is tackling the homeless issue in Hong Kong, and Love 21 Foundation, a charity working with the Down’s syndrome and Autistic community in sport and nutrition.

He shares with me more about his motivation and challenges of running two NGOs, the system they’ve developed to get the homeless off the streets, and how sports and art play a big part in holistically supporting their communities.

What we talked about:

  • Why Jeff decided to run 2 charities
  • What motivated him to work with the homeless and Down’s syndrome/Autistic community
  • Biggest challenges running the two NGOs
  • How his business evolved from his blog and personal volunteering experience with the homeless that made a huge impact on him
  • Whether language is a barrier when helping the homeless
  • Their system of getting the homeless off the streets and into housing and employment, supporting them holistically with classes and community activities, eventually becoming independent, resulting in lives being saved through the work of volunteers
  • How ImpactHK and Love 21 Foundation are funded and supported
  • Getting corporates and volunteers involved through sponsored Kindness Walks and other CSR programmes
  • Why they offer mentoring for the homeless and their vision for the future of Impact HK
  • How Sports and Art programmes are beneficial and important for both the ImpactHK and Love21 communities

Practical tips

  • Adapt quickly, especially in the early stages. Being flexible is important.
  • If you want to make it happen and follow your dreams, it’s gonna take a lot of work. (…) You have to be ready to seriously grind. You can’t feel sorry for yourself (…) you just gotta go for it and really attack it if you want it.

Full show notes and episode links for all podcast platforms available here.

Ep 011: “From Print to Digital First – Transformation and Innovation in the world of News Media” with Malcolm Ong, South China Morning Post

In this episode I’m pleased to have the chance to explore the world of news and media tech, an industry that has gone through rapid transformation over the last 10 years. I got to find out more about the innovation that’s been happening in the media business with Malcolm Ong, Head of Product at South China Morning Post.

Malcolm has an incredible background having been a successful tech entrepreneur himself as a co-founder of e-learning startup Skillshare. We had a very interesting conversation about SCMP’s digital transformation, the role of Artificial Intelligence in the newsroom, their latest experiments innovating with different content formats inspired by new technologies and consumer behaviour, and his thoughts on the future of the news media business. 

We talked about:

  • SCMP’s experimentation with different content formats and tech inspired by new ways and behaviours in consuming news content, e.g. smart speakers, podcasting, short form videos, real time live blogs
  • Role of Artificial Intelligence in the newsroom
  • Digital transformation at SCMP going from print to digital first media company
  • Considerations when designing for audio experience
  • Geographic and Regional differences in user behaviours and preferences for technologies, where they are and how they consume content
  • Monetisation of their digital innovation and SCMP’s transition from paywall to free online news model
  • How startups and corporates differ in their approach to innovation
  • Thoughts on future of media and what’s next for SCMP

Full show notes and episode links available here.