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An Interview with BLP’s Bob Charlton

Leading law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is the first major legal player to position its new regional headquarters in Taikoo Place. Famed for its innovative and dynamic approach, BLP tagged Taikoo Place as the ultimate spot where its forward-thinking team could flourish. Here, Bob talks about how the area’s creativity and collaborative energy will benefit BLP, striking the balance between work and play.

Do you have any routines that keep you happy and grounded every day?
I think to have a corporate life is as stressful as you allow it to be. Provided you have boundaries and rules, and procedures that support you through the day, you can diminish that stress and control it, you can even make it work for you. And family is really important. For me, exercise is crucial. I play a lot of tennis, I use the gym a lot, and I swim a fair bit. Just getting different perspectives. I might be thinking about work at the same time, but it’s just drawing out different feelings that I have during the course of the day. But it took me years to learn how to do it effectively.

Many companies are searching for office space in areas outside of Central. What’s prompting your move from Central to Taikoo Place, and what benefits are you hoping to gain?
We, as a firm, needed to move in Hong Kong. We had outgrown our current space and we were in multiple locations which wasn't good. We then underwent an exercise and consulted with our clients about where they would like us to be, and carefully considered where our people would like to be. And we spent a lot of time looking at various areas in Hong Kong and concluded that Taikoo Place is a perfect spot for us to develop from, given our reputation for innovation as a law firm and given the nature of Taikoo Place. It’s got a fresh feeling, it’s built for young businesses, and that’s the way we regard ourselves. We are now in and it is proving to be all we hoped for and more.

What are the most important elements of the corporate culture at BLP? And how do these tie in with the vibrancy of Taikoo Place?
For me, the most important parts of our culture are around team and around collaboration. We have a one-Asia team culture right across our Asia business and are striving to collaborate together. And we see our new space in Taikoo Place as being able to develop as a collaborative workspace, so we can all work together across borders, practice groups and products to make ourselves more productive. So we think Taikoo Place is going to be enormously complementary to that culture.

What are your favourite apps that you use daily? What type of phone do you have, and what are your favourite devices?
I am just converting to the iPhone world with a 7 Plus - our relationship has made a promising start. The apps I use daily – WhatsApp has just become a way of life, both in business terms and for social and family purposes. Lots of sports apps: tennis, rugby, soccer. The FT is invaluable in many different sorts of ways, not just business. And the weather, especially from a Hong Kong perspective. It’s great to know when it’s going to dump with rain next and where.

Many big business deals are made over great breakfasts, lunches and dinners. What are your favourite places to eat and relax in Hong Kong?
We’re really looking forward to getting out around Taikoo Place to experience the restaurants and eateries of the area. I’ve already tried ‘Mr and Mrs Fox’ and I think it’s pretty fantastic, and I think all that can work well from a personal perspective and a business perspective. But I’ll be looking forward very much to trying everywhere else that’s available. We just think Taikoo Place can be a new business centre for Hong Kong, and I think we’re most excited because we really see how it’s going to work for us, and we’re looking forward to putting that into practice.

Photographs by Jason Bonello of Velocity Images

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