Being an expert in your chosen profession is a given. But starting a company in a new area of expertise is a whole other ball game. That’s exactly what Raymond Ho, General Manager of Enable Professional Services (Greater China), has done. Based at theDesk One Hysan Avenue, technology leader Raymond shares with us the challenges and his aspirations for one of Australia’s fastest growing IT companies.
The lure of the Iron Ring
For 30 years, Hong Konger Raymond Ho has built an impressive resume in the field of technology. However, this was not a career path he imagined for himself when he started out.
“I wanted the ring!” Raymond jokes. Known as the Iron Ring, Ho wanted to follow the iconic Canadian tradition where universities award the symbolic item to Engineering students on graduation. His desire for the accessory indirectly changed the course of his career ambition.
Raymond was en route to University of Alberta, Canada to further his studies. His goal then was to pursue architecture. However, once there, the advanced computer facilities available on campus immediately fascinated him.
Along with his interest in science, he wanted to test the water by taking a computer engineering module. Soon after, he pursued Computer Science as his degree. The rest, as they say, is history.
The shift from practitioner to salesman
With wisdom comes the acceptance that one does not need to be the most knowledgeable to be the best in your field. This is particularly true in the ever-evolving domain of technology.
Following several years as a coder in Hong Kong, Raymond was ready to take on a new challenge.
“My ex-manager frankly told me, ‘You did a lot of good work, but guess what? The sales guys are getting the cheque.’ It was an epiphany for me to leave the technical stuff to the young kids and venture into something new.”
With his passion for and understanding of digital platforms, Raymond shifted towards sales. He found enjoyment in translating technical complexity into practical services for everyday customers. He went on to lead sales locally and regionally for IT giants like IBM, Sun Microsystems and HP.
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A progressive bullet train
His current parent company Enable Professional Services has rapidly expanded since starting up in Australia in 2014.
The company is primarily a digital and cloud software consultancy. It builds and provides enterprise services management (ESM) based on the leading cloud platform, ServiceNow. They offer a range of ESM solutions for many types of businesses, implementing seamless workflow with the help of the cloud.
From recruitment and human resources to logistics and distribution, the business solutions the company provides are broad. Issues such as human errors, clumsy approvals processes, and administration time can be greatly reduced through their platform.
2017 was a landmark year for Enable. IT business media CRN Fast 50 named it the 8th fastest growing IT company in Australia. ServiceNow awarded Enable a Gold Service Partner status, the first for an Australian company.
Across Asia Pacific, Enable ambitiously set up branches in Singapore and Hong Kong concurrently. In August 2017, Raymond jumped onboard the bullet train.
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Starting from scratch
Making the switch from vendor provider to a solutions company took a leap of faith. Raymond was tasked with setting up the Hong Kong operation from the ground up.
Although well-versed in the service industries, setting up a company from scratch was a whole new challenge for Raymond.
Having worked in several multi-national companies (MNC), he was used to focussing on what he was good at. Back then, the direction and scope of the company were clear. Support was readily available.
“Being the one to set up a company was a completely new challenge. I had to do everything, from recruitment, getting medical coverage to finding an office space. The process has been, at times frustrating. But ultimately rewarding. I’m learning constantly.”
In mid-2017, Enable was a rookie in town. Since then, they have started implementation work for customers and secured their first public offering. As Enable’s business continues to grow exponentially, so does the need for manpower.
“I always joke that we’re selling people. I tell my manager that I don’t worry about the potential of the business; it’s essentially about finding the right talent,” said Raymond.
A Chinese sensibility
The next conquest for Enable will be overcoming the challenges of China’s Great Firewall. The world has seen how the economic giant has been swatting many the Western enterprises entering the market like flies.
One of the world’s highest-valued companies, Amazon, recently had to sell a whopping US$300 million asset to their Chinese partner, Beijing Sinnet Technology, to allow their web services to operate in the country.
Unlike many other Hong Kong-based multi-nationals, that leverage resources and approvals from their Western headquarters, Raymond is proud of how his team operate autonomously. Despite the difficulties, he believes that having a local sensibility will be essential to the company’s success.
Indeed China’s regulations can be tricky and unpredictable. Still, Raymond is optimistic. The adoption of cloud-based technologies is growing in China. After all, he has navigated and led businesses in the regional markets before. It’s all about knowing how to fine-tune the business model.
Finding a perfect community
Raymond believes theDesk at One Hysan Avenue is the perfect fit for him and his business. Initially starting off as a one-man team, he often ran around for meetings and worked on-the-go. He visited and tried several co-working spaces, realising the value of what a community can offer.
“I used to work in a big office that was like a social-ghost town. It was so isolating. I enjoy being in a friendly and diverse community. We don’t necessarily have to interact all the time, but it is reassuring to feel a sense of belonging.”
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Moreover, with the company growing so fast, it is hard for them to commit to a regular office space to accommodate their growth. With goals to double the team’s size by 2018, Raymond appreciated the flexibility theDesk could offer him. The icing on the cake is that their partner, ServiceNow, is just a stone throw away at Lee Garden!