Interview with Andrew Davis, Head of Investment Promotion for Invest Hong Kong

Keirsten Lawton Keirsten Lawton Managing Director, Cambridge Associates LLC

Andrew Davis, Invest Hong Kong, shares his views on how investment promotion strategies fit in to the place brand mix and how the place brand is so important when it comes to attracting talent and business.

CNP: By way of introduction, could you briefly describe your current role and how you came to take it on?

AD: I am Head of Investment Promotion for Invest Hong Kong in the UK, which means that I am trying to attract UK companies to set up a presence in Hong Kong. This can be an office a shop, restaurant or other facility, employing anything from 1 to hundreds of staff. Though we work with big companies, around 80% of our clients are SME’s. My role is both reactive and proactive.

CNP: Having worked in an investment promotion capacity for two very different places – Wales, in the UK and now Hong Kong, how important to you is it to feel passionate about the place that you are representing on the world stage?

AD: That's a good point because although the word passion is over used in marketing, it is essential in convincing companies or other stakeholders that the people of your location walk the talk and believe in what they selling.

CNP: What combination of skills sets do you feel that you need to have to be successful in the world of investment promotion?

AD: Skills required include sales, marketing, social and networking skills plus a broad understanding of various business sectors.

CNP: How do you see the connection between your team’s strategy and activities and those of other Hong Kong government departments working to promote Hong Kong – whether for trade, or for tourism or to attract talent etc.

AD: There is a good connection, but at the same time we have to develop our own sales messages. For example, a tourism pitch wouldn't necessary have any traction with a business and vice versa .

CNP: We’re delighted that you will be participating in the agenda at this year’s City Nation Place conference – what is your perspective on the place brand of Hong Kong and how does this affect your approach to attracting investment?

AD: The dynamism of Hong Kong's brand fits very well with our approach to interesting business in Hong Kong. There are elements of the brand that fit in very well to the soft drivers for a company or individual looking at the city. For example, life style, shopping, restaurants and activities. Hence it is an easier sell to attract talent to the city.

CNP: We’ve heard many investment promotion executives talk about their role in pure sales terms and investment promotion is certainly a very accountable channel of activity - why do you think it’s important for investment promotion teams to understand more about the the more complex aspects of place brand strategy?

 AD: It does help if IPA staff understand the bigger picture. Especially if they are talking to investors who do!

CNP: From your perspective, how would you sum up what ‘place brand strategy” means to you?

AD: How you want the world to see you, and projecting an image that is believable. There are many places which don't have a strong or believable marketing image.

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.