HKIM Chairmen reflect and look forward

The Hong Kong Institute of Marketing celebrates its 30th year in November. From the initial beginning of just a few volunteers and members, we have spread our wings to being the leading marketing organization in Hong Kong, raising the standards of the industry and the training of young practitioners. The journey was marked with challenges and achievements. We have invited four of our former chairmen, Founder Prof. Henry C Steele, Mr. Stephen Lau, Dr. Augustine Chow and Mr. Derek Lam, to share with us their memories and hopes for HKIM.

The Challenges We Met

Prof. Henry C Steele:

Resource limitation was a major concern at the early years when there was no office and no staff, and the burden fell entirely on the Council and volunteers. Serving our members required a location and organisational support to provide efficiency and cohesion. At the same time membership needed to be built up and activities and events funded and managed. We nearly didn’t pull through one year.

Where a decision had to make urgently to either close or develop the HKIM as a crisis had arisen due to some poor decisions and others had left the sinking ship. We finally decided to get started again and thankfully there were enough council members and supporters willing to put in huge efforts and make things happen to regain momentum.

Dr. Augustine Chow:

At the beginning, HKIM was faced with the problem of how to cope with the social changes – the return of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China, and how to reposition the Institute. Before 1997, the education programmes and courses were structured along the line of  the Chartered Institute of Marketing syllabus which did not fully tie in the local situation. We had to think about what we could learn from their success and made them work in our favour, and how to get support from the relevant parties in Hong Kong.

Mr. Derek Lam:

The biggest challenge was to build up our  relationship with the Mainland and to strengthen our influence in Asia Pacific Marketing Federation.

The Changes We Made

Prof. Henry C Steele:

Throughout my time in Hong Kong I was involved with the HKIM education programmes. Not only has it provided marketing education and professional membership but it has raised both the profile of marketing and the contribution of education while raising the standards of our membership.

Education programmes have also provided funds which provided the foundations for a permanent office and administrative support.

Mr. Stephen Lau:

During my second year as chairman, vice chairman John Wong led a group to formulate our first long-range strategic plan. In the beginning of this lengthy planning process, we questioned: “Can HKIM afford an office?” when the Institute had less than $70,000 cash on hand. We were convinced that: “HKIM cannot afford not to have an office.” So the real question was how, given the limited resources we had.

I worked half time for HKIM to open an office in February 1992. Things were tough in the beginning. We finished the first year with a staffed office deeply in the red. With the help of our dedicated Council and Committee Members, we managed to stage over 40 events with a staff of three (including myself) in one year and proved the Institute could be run as a financially viable business model.

Dr. Augustine Chow:

The ever-present problem of lack of professional recognitions and professional membership with the local business community was a handicap. We put lots of effort in reforming the education programmes, connecting more with business circles, and communicating more with surrounding regions especially with AMF and the Mainland.

Mr. Derek Lam:

We successfully hosted and organised the APMF Annual General Meeting and the Asia Pacific Marketing Conference together with our HKIM 15th Anniversary Dinner in Hong Kong in 1997. This event uplifted HKIM’s image particularly in Mainland.


The Future We Step Into

Prof. Henry C Steele:

It is important that the HKIM performs well in all activities and in interaction with its members. It must remain relevant to members’ interests and their marketing careers.

Care is necessary in committing funds as the bottom line must be safeguarded. The HKIM has to be sustainable by identifying sources that will generate funds and cover expenditure for the long term. This is the real challenge for a professional institute where membership is not mandatory in order to practice marketing.

Dr. Augustine Chow”

Over the years, HKIM has been upgrading its mission to meet the needs of the market as a professional marketing body striving to raise the status and reputation of marketing in and for Hong Kong. I hope HKIM can take the roles of leading, motivating, nurturing, educating, and censoring marketing professionalism in Hong Kong, in conjunction with parties from mainland and international.

Mr. Derek Lam:

I suggest HKIM work closely with HKSAR Government and get the recognition from mainland China.


*Please accept our sincere apology for not able to interview all of the Former Chairmen.