Q&A with Innovation & Technology Committee Chair Jen Flowers

Innovation and Technology (I&T) Committee Chair
Jennifer Flowers
Head of Asia Pacific Partnership Development & Innovation, WPB

What is special about AmCham and why did you join as a committee leader in the first place?

AmCham is a powerful not only for its collective network of people, but also it’s knowledge of the market and the ability to provide insights from businesses and industries across the board. I’ve been a member in both Shanghai and Hong Kong and along the way I’ve also been able to make some lifelong friendships from people at both chambers.

When I first joined the I&T committee, the chairs at the time, Julie and Leonie (From OTIS and Google respectively) had a way of delivering meaningful insights. Each session was an open forum of ideas and innovative technology. I can only gather that my vocalised opinions and involvement in the sessions guided them into picking me to join them as a co-chair. 😊

What is the most memorable experience/encounter/event about your committee?

What stands out most about AmCham and the I&T committee is the extraordinary platform and fusion of people that we get to hold our events for. Just last year we held a great debate at PwC’s offices around digital banks. With the new licenses being all the buzz, we wanted to confront the question on everyone’s minds around the new technology. We had an outstanding panel from Deniz Güven (Virtual Bank by Standard Chartered), Lawrence Lam (Citibank Hong Kong), David Rosa (Neat), and moderated by Henri Arslanian (PwC). Of course everyone is there for the remarkable conversations which spun heads around on‘Who will be the bank of the future?’ ‘Challenger banks’ and ‘Traditional vs Digital banks’.  

With tech at the forefront, we were also able to poll the audience both in the beginning and at the end for which had some very different results. It is truly phenomenal to see how these conversations are able to change the minds of people from all sorts of industries. I guess you’ll just have to join the I&T committee to find out who won!

What is the most enjoyable part of leading a Committee? (e.g. meeting people, finding common goals, fighting a challenge together, helping your business thrive?)

We host monthly meetings which take place on the last Friday of the month and we have the privilege from of hosting at each other’s member offices. We have a wonderful crew of committee members (about 20-40 each time) where we always have knowledge exchange sessions on various topics, but always make sure there is a sharing platform for technology. It is after all the reason why members join this committee!

On our recent trip to the Uber office, we got to talk about flying cars and the depth of value that Uber plans to expand on its strategy of not JUST being a car service, but an everything service. We also took a trip to Google’s offices where we had a fascinating presentation on AI and futuristic intelligence. Could robots be taking over soon? We never know, but at least we can be prepared. You never know when robots are going to take over the world! More importantly, there’s usually a wonderful spread of breakfast and coffee since our meetings…always a bonus at 8am!

Any upcoming activities our readers should know about and why?

The committee will be launching a start-up pitch series, a platform where we can work across different committees to connect corporates with start-ups and focus on the road to recovery for Hong Kong. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in getting yourself or your committee involved!

What would you like AmCham to do more in the challenging times we face?

The last year has been a trying time for Hong Kong. I think most importantly we need to shift our focus towards the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the city so that they are able to get back on their feet with everything that’s going on. They have huge cost constraints in their business and getting the chamber more involved with these businesses and not just the large corporates will help bring back the balance that is much needed. It would also be wonderful to look at some of the charity organisations for members so that we can do our part for Hong Kong, looking towards piecing everything back together.

Interview by Carolyn DeRobertis