Introducing the FCC’s New Members: February 2022
A Swede, a South African, a Kiwi, a Russian, a Yorkshireman, un Français, several Chinese and assorted others walk into a bar…
This is the third time my husband Fredrik and I have lived in Hong Kong. Each time we left, we sensed that we would move back. Hong Kong is a very special place for our family. Originally from Sweden, we have lived in Hong Kong and Germany for the last 16 years. I have worked as an IT consultant for international companies and have always relished meeting people from all walks of life. I enjoy the Hong Kong outdoors and can’t wait until we can travel freely again so that I can visit my children who go to university in Canada. I love the diverse and international atmosphere at the FCC.
I’m Hong Kong-born, UK-raised. In 2019, after many years away from my birthplace, I decided to return to Hong Kong to start my journalism career as a legal reporter. Since then my interest in China has only increased, although covering the country has become more difficult for foreign journalists. I recently switched to freelancing to allow me to pursue my other passion: travelling. I hope to have a career that allows me to write and travel as much as possible – starting in Taiwan next year where I’ll be studying Mandarin. I’m a massive Arsenal and Andy Murray fan.
Marc Allan Cormack-Bissett
Friends call me gregarious, and I have a love of food, travel and exploration. I’m British by birth but identify as South African having emigrated at six months old. I met my (now) husband in our uni days and we moved to London in the early 2000s where I qualified as a chartered accountant. In late 2018, I was seconded to Hong Kong and immediately fell for the city’s charm. I was joined by my husband and cats (Gin & Tonic) a year later. I’m a director and head of company secretarial services for Law Debenture Corporation.
I moved to this fascinating city in 2018 after stints in Portugal, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan, and am joined at the FCC by my wife Veronica, a Venezuelan from Caracas. I hail from Yorkshire in England. We enjoy dragon boating, scuba diving, hiking, golf and football, and have our own website documenting our travel experiences and showcasing our small philanthropic photography and sustainable fashion businesses. When we’re not dreaming of travelling or focusing on our creative projects, I work as the Head of English Department in an international school, and Veronica works as a relocation consultant and a realtor.
Kunal J Gokal
Originally from New Zealand, I’ve spent most of my life in Hong Kong. I now work as a relationship manager at a global private bank having spent a short stint in the luxury goods industry. I find joy in meeting new people, building relationships and learning from others. I’m driven by new experiences, having climbed Mount Kinabalu, bungeed above a lake in New Zealand, backpacked around Croatia, and explored Europe by road. I’m itching to travel again in a post-COVID-19, quarantine-free world. As a third-generation member from my family, I’m thrilled to be joining the club.
Some random information: I have a Russian accent. It may sound like appropriation, but just like the FCC’s president, I love Malbec, and not just in the evening. My profile picture was taken by my colleague, Nikolai Likhopoi, and it doesn’t matter whether I like it or not – it’s amazing. What am I doing in China? Ask my father and please let me know. I hope that one day Elon Musk and I will fly to Mars from the Baikonur cosmodrome where I was born. I still don’t know who I want to be when I grow up.
I’ve been living and working in Hong Kong for almost eight years, and despite some un-encouraging beginnings, it’s hard not to fall in love with this unique place, with its Chinese influence and British heritage. It has one of the most beautiful skylines in the world, while sandy beaches, rocky shores, coastlines, reservoirs, woodlands, mountain ranges, and a variety of scenic vistas make up the majority of the Island. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: “Hong Kong is the most imperfect place I have ever lived, except for all the others.”
I’m originally from the UK, but my wife, Hanh, and I have called Hong Kong home for almost four years. I currently lead video production for Morning Studio, the South China Morning Post’s branded content arm, making short documentaries on a range of topics, from local artists to business leaders. In my spare time, I can often be found roaming the streets looking for stories for my own documentary projects or doing a bit of photography.
As a Dutch trader I arrived in Hong Kong in 1980, and am still here four decades later. I retired in 2015 and now share my time with my wife Annett, and my hobbies of squash (body permitting) and painting. My exhibitions are mainly held at the Fringe Club next door to the FCC. My retirement didn’t last very long. With the mainstream media hell-bent on presenting negative news, I realised the world was in need of something positive. To overcome this doom and gloom I brought together a team of experienced journalists to launch Happy-Ali.com, which publishes seriously happy global news.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, I came back to the city after graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and working in New York. My time spent in the US cultivated my interest in diversity. I have spent nearly 20 years working in finance, and believe women can provide different perspectives on all areas of life. As a mother of two, I am also keen on nurturing the next generation of women via allyship and support. I love travelling, trying out exotic food and shopping for local specialties.
Li Man Ying
I was born in Hong Kong and have practiced as an architect both here and overseas for more than 40 years, which often required travelling around various parts of the world. It is a great pleasure for me to join the club to share a lot of experiences and visions from other members.
I was born in Cyprus and spent my childhood in Yemen and London. After a Chinese studies degree, my career in HR and communications with BP, and later Lafarge, was based mainly in Asia with 26 years in Beijing and Guangzhou. Apart from expanding regional operations, I also dealt with offshore gas blow-outs, shipping collisions and the devastating Aceh tsunami. I now work as an executive coach. My first Hong Kong experience was as a student intern, helping the St Stephen’s Society rehabilitate heroin addicts from the Kowloon Walled City, where I also met my wife, Jing, then a volunteer interpreter.
I was born in France and after studying for a master’s in history in Paris, I embarked for Beijing in the 1990s to learn Chinese and try to understand who would rule the world next. After many jobs in China over two decades, I ended up back at the University of Hong Kong last year, courtesy of COVID-19 which blighted my career in luxury retail. I’m currently focused on the Pacific, the polar regions and geopolitics.
I joined AFP in 2018 after graduating from Leeds University and then l’Institut Français de Presse in Paris. I landed in Hong Kong in March 2021 to join the agency’s Asia-Pacific team as a fact-checking editor, tackling misinformation across the region. Originally from the Peak District in England, I am enjoying discovering the city, especially learning Cantonese, hiking and consuming any amount of egg waffles.
Justin Peter McMahon
After a career in hospitality management in Australia I completed a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in banking, finance and risk management. I relocated to Hong Kong 15 years ago with two suitcases and the hope of finding a home in this fantastic, inspiring city which has since given me both my wife and a career. I am now a partner at Village Insurance Brokers, which focuses on expats. I enjoy weightlifting, boxing, yoga, hiking and living the dream and am an active member of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Insurers Club.
Bhagwan Benny Daulatram Ratnani
I settled in Hong Kong over five decades ago. I started my own trading business with the Middle East and India as the main markets when I was 29 years old after working here and in the US for a year. I have two offices in Guangzhou, and prior to the pandemic, I frequently travelled to Dubai where most of my clients are based. I am also a property investor and have been a Rotary Club member (and past vice president) for the past 35 years. I’m excited to join the FCC.
In the course of a long career in government service, I have completed two separate postings in Seoul and another in London where I chaired the Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club. I grew up in Auckland and have a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Auckland. I have affiliations to the Te Rarawa and Te Aupōuri tribes from the northern tip of New Zealand and speak Māori (and Korean) fluently.
A company secretary by profession, I came from India back in 1997 shortly after the Handover. Ever since Hong Kong has been home to me, my husband and our two daughters. I love the tremendous vibrancy of Hong Kong and how its adventures never cease. It keeps the element of wonderment alive with its beautiful outdoors and vast variety of cuisines. I like the FCC, its atmosphere, the events it hosts and its fantastic mix of Old and New World wines.
Peter Cookson Smith
I arrived in Hong Kong in September 1976 and, within a year, set up URBIS, the first company in the territory specialising in city planning, urban design, environment and landscape. We cut our teeth on the New Towns programme and have since carried out many projects across China and Southeast Asia. In associated areas I have been a Professor of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong and an Adjunct Professor at Chinese University. Although technically retired, I continue to occupy a quiet corner of the URBIS office through the forbearance of long-standing friends and colleagues.
I am an entrepreneur, and manage Hong Kong’s only India-dedicated equities fund: The Vachi India Equity Fund. I have been a Hong Kong resident since 2012 and previously worked as a private banker and fund manager. I have a master’s degree in Public Affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delhi. I’m passionate about the guitar, which I have been playing for 30-plus years, and am now starting to write original music.
Ray Tsang Heung Tak
I am a lawyer by training. My favourite fictional lawyer is Horace Rumpole. I love reading and am something of a bibliophile. I enjoy the works of Somerset Maugham, George Orwell (especially his essays and journalism), Bertrand Russell, and the local writer Chua Lam. I play golf recreationally. My handicap fluctuates between 18 and 25. I am a diehard Tiger Woods fan. I smoke cigars on a daily basis. My favourite hangouts are bookstores, cigar lounges and the FCC.
I first lived in Hong Kong in 1991, straight out of university with a degree in East Asian studies. My first employer, Hutchison Whampoa, sent me to Shanghai to work on its container port joint venture. I met my American husband, Alex, there; he worked for Swire/Dragonair. We headed back to the US in 1996, but returned to Hong Kong in 2008. Since 2010 I’ve worked in financial communications, first for Brunswick and now with Finsbury Glover Hering. My twin sister was a Wall Street Journal reporter for 14 years. I’ve always loved the FCC and am thrilled to join.