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PEOPLE

The Power Series: Power of Direction with Angus Slater

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What’s the one thing that motivates you? The Mag’s “The Power Series” invites industry leaders to discuss the “power” of one initiative and how it’s crucial to everyday life, whether work or play. This month, Managing Director of Bupa in Hong Kong, Angus Slater talks to us about the power of direction.
It’s simple: without any direction, you’re unlikely to achieve what you intend to do. The key is knowing what matters to you most.

For me, it’s about living a rich life not so much about accumulating wealth, but living a life rich in experience. I enjoy travelling and learning, and feel lucky to have lived and worked in very different countries such as Japan and Romania. I’ve had many different experiences in these places, so when I moved to Hong Kong in 2016 as the sales and commercial director of Bupa Asia, I set myself some personal goals to get the most out of my time here. Firstly, I wanted to enjoy the restaurant scene, and to explore Southeast Asia with my family. I also wanted to get fit again, so I began competing in trail running races and I attend regular HIIT classes…which, really, just means I can eat more at the restaurants! That’s part of my strategy – with a clear idea of what I wanted to do, I can make sure that I’m making the most of my time in the city.

Similarly, my professional motivation isn’t really about getting “bigger” jobs, but what kind of legacy I’d like to leave behind. As managing director, I want to define a joined up strategy and build a team of people who will deliver lasting value in this market. Our company, as a healthcare specialist, owns a number of health-related businesses here in Hong Kong and around the world– from health insurance to outpatient clinics, aged care facilities, to dentists, serving different customers. My goal, then, is to determine how we can most effectively work together across our business lines to deliver better health outcomes to our customers in Hong Kong.

When determining a company’s direction, you need to find the right balance between short and long term objectives. As a lifelong marketeer, this means ensuring that we balance our marketing budget between short term sales promotion activities and campaigns that build brand equity for the longer term. To set goals for your staff, make sure they’re at the right level of granularity, depending on who they are for. For example, more junior staff need specific objectives; however, for general managers, setting broader business outcomes is more appropriate so that they don’t feel that they are being “micromanaged”.
After all, it’s about driving the bus down the right path, even when reality intervenes. You always need to be a little bit flexible, to course correct along the way. We have a calendar of planning, which includes an annual strategy day, followed by a three-year plan, before we finalise the leadership objectives. Even so, in any 12-month business plan, after month two or three, you tend to be slightly departing from your projection. However, if you have the right people on the team and the end destination is clear, they will figure out how to drive the bus to get you there.
…Which is why it’s so important to invest in the holistic wellbeing of employees to create a happy, healthy, engaged workforce. We deliver our objectives through people, so it’s not only about making sure the people you have are in the right roles, with the right capabilities to do their jobs, but also that they are in the right frame of mind, so that they are motivated and inspired by their work.

No matter what you do, find the North Star that guides you. Both in life and at work, know what matters to you. I’ve found that surrounding myself by people that I admire, building successful teams and living an adventurous life are what I love. My advice is to keep an open mind as to how your career should evolve and the jobs and promotions that you set your heart on. Recognise that plan A doesn’t always work out. So long as you know where you are heading, and you are open to learning and trying new things, you’ll figure out how to get there.

Feeling motivated? Find out how experience can empower you, according to JLL’s Jennifer Henderson.
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