Charlie Wong, general manager of internet travel agency ZUJI,started his career as an accountant at KPMG before becoming a financial controller at a Tokyo-based advertising agency. At ZUJI, he is in charge of building the brand and growing the business. Heenjoys wine-tasting tours and travelling with his family to rural Japan.
What have you learned from your previous jobs?
At KPMG Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to develop fundamental skills such as my analytical ability. At the firm’s offices in Sydney, I learned how to work with people from different countries.
As a financial controller in Tokyo, I offered advice to the business internally. Unlike in a professional firm, where I gave advice and someone else executed the idea, I had to advise and follow it through. It !was also a culture shock to work in Japan.
People there tend to agree on the principle of things, but always have their own ideas as they implement the project. They don’t necessarily follow international best practices. It’s difficult to get them to buy in thoroughly.
Why did you move from a professional accounting firm to a commercial business?
The career path in the auditing or consulting world is very focused, whereas you can be an all-rounder in the commercial world. You can offer advice to the company and participate in the formulation of strategies. That’s what I find really exciting.
What’s your role at ZUJI?
My mission is to take the business to another level. I want to excite people to travel and provide convenience for them, and bring offline customers online.
What are the difficulties in promoting online travel in Hong Kong?
There are many travel agencies conveniently located at street level. But we are a growing business with much to offer. We provide instant information to customers and enable them to make the booking by themselves 24/7 with convenience, choice and control.
Clarity is our biggest advantage. What you see is what you get. In the traditional world, there may be additional charges. In some cases, you may have to be wait-listed andyou may not be buying what you want.
How do you stay up-to-date in the fast-moving world?
I always browse the web and read the news. I also discuss a range of issues with a lot of people.
What’s the best part of your job?
Whenever we’ve put in effort and thought about the strategy thoroughly, the results come more or less instantly. It’s the satisfaction that drives me to work very hard and come up with creative business strategies.
What’s your advice for young people?
Know what you want and then put all your heart into it. Don’t be scared of losing. You’ll be successful eventually.
Graduated from Sydney University (1996)
Auditor with KPMG in Sydney and Hong Kong (1997-2003)
Financial controller with Ad-comm Group, a Tokyo-based advertising firm (2003-2007)