By Stephanie Chan
Sharlene Jacquier isn’t a physiotherapist, trainer, or allied health provider. She’s not even the sporty one in her family. (That’s her husband, David.) Yet she is the director and co-founder of leading Hong Kong health and wellness clinic Joint Dynamics, and AmCham Women of Influence (WOI) committee’s pick for 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Before co-founding Joint Dynamics in 2013, Jacquier never considered herself the entrepreneurial type. “In my mind, an entrepreneur was an amazingly talented tradesperson, coach, service provider,” says Jacquier, who trained in Australia as a chemical engineer. “I never anticipated myself running a company or being an entrepreneur, because I didn’t do something like that.”
Like many entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Jacquier stumbled upon her path fortuitously. She met Colin Symmonds, a US-trained physiotherapist who had been practicing here for several years, at a dinner party in 2012. At the time, she was taking a break from her engineering career to raise her children, Sam and Edith, then five and two. (Her third, Patrick, was born in 2014.)
“[Colin] had come up with this new concept for physical therapy and the integration into health and well being as a whole,” Jacquier recalls. “He and his partner were going to open this clinic. They were looking for someone that could set up the systems—everything from the accounting systems to how we would employ people to how the towels would be cleaned.”
“I’ve not done that work before,” she recalls saying to Symmonds. “But I think that nothing that you’ve suggested there is out of my capability.”
Her outcome-driven engineer’s approach to problem solving proved a natural complement to the rest of the Joint Dynamics team. “My skill set and what I do is actually the part that a lot of entrepreneurs need to learn along the way,” she notes.
Since Joint Dynamics opened in 2013—the first clinic in Hong Kong to bring together personal trainers, physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionists, osteopaths and other wellness practitioners under one roof—it has grown from a five-person team to an enterprise employing 65 staff members across two clinics in Central and Quarry Bay.
Jacquier’s purview has also transformed from an operational to a strategic leadership role. “I’m now very much outward looking, in terms of listening to people, talking about the marketplace, talking about Joint Dynamics and where we can take that vision to next,” she says.
Yet her style of entrepreneurship remains team-based. She stresses that the best new business ideas come from her employees, saying, “Staying ahead of this game is about developing the amazing ideas that keep coming out of our staff.”
One example is Joint Dynamics Evolve, the brainchild of physiotherapist Jenny Fielding. Dedicated to all aspects of women’s health, the service launched in 2021, and Jacquier has personally benefited from the support and openness offered by the Evolve team. “As a woman in her mid-40s, having that information available to me—and having it as a conversation! It’s not—” She breaks off into stage whispers, reflecting how information about perimenopause is usually conveyed.
Jacquier’s spirit of cooperation extends to the rest of the Hong Kong health and wellness scene. “It’s really important that the industry stays really strong,” she says. “That was what was really tough about the COVID closures. Obviously, some companies were more affected than others, but it affects everyone because we all drink from that same well.”
“Having people come up with these great new concepts—it pushes everyone forward,” she concludes. “It gets everyone excited about health, about well being, which is great for the industry as a whole and great for us all individually as business owners.”