After graduating from Barnard College, the women’s college at Columbia University, Sophia Hotung performed IT audits for a Big 4 accounting firm, then ran crisis communications at a boutique PR house. In 2019, she moved away from this traditional career path in the UK and to a new future in Education in Hong Kong.
As the KG Group’s Product Manager, Sophia Hotung identifies ways to improve products and systems and then follow through on her recommendations with clearly defined project plans.
In this interview, Sophia shows us the art of thinking clearly, setting goals, and thinking outside the box.
Why did you decide to work for an SME?
There’s something dynamic and exciting about working at an SME that’s on the rise. When I joined the KG Group as a Business Development Manager two years ago, it was growing out of its “mom-n’-pop shop” phase and burgeoning into a promising and dynamic market leader. I was brought on to reimagine the culture, recruitment, and operational infrastructure, and was immediately invigorated by how much freedom and flexibility I had within my role.
Previously, I had worked at a Big 4 accounting firm, followed by a boutique PR shop doing crisis communications. By necessity, both jobs involved rigid hierarchies, strict procedures, and interesting but repetitive work. Shifting from those austere, corporate environments to one with “start-up vibes” had me revaluating my willingness to take risks and volunteer “out-there” ideas.
Did this very different environment shift your perspective of what you wanted from work?
Absolutely. I had spent the last two years of university desperate to get into a graduate programme at a brand-name consulting firm. However, after a month at the KG Group, I realised that what I really wanted was the freedom to get creative and experiment in an entrepreneurial environment where redefining protocols, traditions, and culture isn’t just acceptable but expected.
What do you love most about your job?
Probably the variety. Going to work and owning the opportunity to hone in and streamline any product under the Group’s umbrella allows me the scope that I always wanted, while the small community and fast pace allows me to get on with executing big ideas.
What do you find most challenging about your role?
There’s a lot of trial and error, a lot of standing by your beliefs and securing buy-in from sceptics, and a lot of emails. But I feel in control of my development, I feel excited about my work, and I feel proud of my community.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in a similar career?
For anyone interested in owning their career development, trajectory, and experiences, I recommend applying not only to ritzy skyscraper firms, but also local SMEs and start-ups with enthusiastic, candid, and creative leadership in industries that you care about. You only need to sit down, outline what you enjoy and what you want to get out of the first few years of graduate life, and start looking for potential companies that help you feel fulfilled and excited to get to work every day.
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