Postcard from Hong Kong: Working towards changing attitudes and representation

Natasha Norton is an Advance member based in Hong Kong

Natasha Norton Contributor

A year of limbo, well that’s how the last 12 or so months could be perceived. Closed borders, quarantine, social distancing, restrictions that change almost daily…and to add to the ‘excitement,’ relocating to a new city, a new home. If I had seen that sentence 18 months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it had anything to do with me. But here we are in mid-June 2021, and I’m firmly entrenched in my new home of Hong Kong.

In June 2020 (it feels like a lifetime ago) many of my friends, family and colleagues thought my partner and I were mad when we moved to Hong Kong. The risk or plain craziness of the decision to take the plunge mid-Covid wasn’t lost on anyone, including ourselves.

Like so many other expats, we moved for both opportunity and adventure – and to be fair, we didn’t really know what the world would be going through 12 months down the track. We landed in a city that was at ease with mask wearing, there was a collective nature of the residents where they simply got on board with what needed to be done to prevent the virus from taking over. As a result, life in HK so far has been a strange limbo of being able to conduct life relatively normally, with some restrictions in place that we can’t really complain about, but always able to move around freely. Transitioning was almost too easy.

Helping us feel more at home has been the expansive expat community in HK with organisations such as AustCham, the 30% Club Hong Kong and The Women’s Foundation, all of which have not only provided new friends and colleagues, but a way for me to be more involved with the local business community.

Developing these networks has provided insight into how business operates, including what the nuances, challenges and opportunities are. It has also enabled me to continue to follow a professional and personal passion of mine in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equality. Hong Kong is working towards changing attitudes and representation, be that in business, in the boardroom or on the sporting field.

Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to land a role at one of HK’s most respected and well known local companies, gaining a unique opportunity to work in blockchain – an industry that seems to be more dominant in Hong Kong than any other market I’ve seen. Most recently, I’ve taken on a General Manager of North Asia and Global Growth role in the NewLaw sector. I’ve never worked in legal services but as the company is a scale up, it ticks many of the boxes that get me excited when it comes to my career; fast growing and accelerating transformation, using smart technology, and disrupting the traditional models.

I feel like I’m back in my “wheel-house” and have much to contribute.

Being passionate about advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community and for women in sport, when the opportunity came up to be part of the Gay Games 2022 Hong Kong team (GGHK2022), I jumped at it. It’s difficult to convey how magnificent this event will be and the impact it can have. It is the first time the games are being held in Asia. There are currently 200+ volunteers around the world working tirelessly to host 12,000 participants and 75,000 spectators next year. Being part of GGHK2022, has opened up yet another part of the Hong Kong community to me, resplendent in its vibrancy, diversity, culture and pride.

The home of the “fragrant harbour” is dynamic, mixing old with new. History with rapid change. Strangely the most rewarding thing about our restricted movement during this time has been our ability to explore the very edges of Hong Kong and to take up opportunities that, if we had not been here, would never have presented themselves. It’s typical Hong Kong, around every corner something to challenge and excite the senses through a cacophony of noise, sights and sounds. It’s a glorious spectacle that I’m very happy to call home.

Are you a global Aussie based in HK? Connect with Natasha

Natasha is the General Manager of North Asia & Growth for KorumLegal, a self-confessed sports fanatic, an adventurer and lover of a good flat white. If you’re interested in disruption in traditional environments, or love a good coffee and a chat, get in touch!