Prospect Presents our Founder & Asia MD Emma. We asked her a few questions to get to know her a bit better ...

When you and Colette first launched Prospect, what was the vision and what did you want for the business and yourselves?

Our vision was very clear- to provide an honest and ethical service to both our clients and candidates. In addition, we wanted to set up the business to reflect our lifestyle. We both wanted a family and were keen to set up a business that could offer us some flexibility around our kids. We thought we’d give it a go for a few years and see what happened…. We are now moving into our 14th year of business.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about going it alone / starting their own business?

Be prepared to make a few mistakes but to learn from them. It will take up your whole life initially so a strong support network (friends & family) is vital.

Since moving to Hong Kong in 2009 to launch Prospect Asia how do you feel you’ve developed and what obstacles have you had to overcome?

I have had to learn how to live and work in a very different culture. Understanding clients, candidates and employee needs in the Chinese  culture is a constant learning curve- what motivates them can be very different to those in the West .When Colette and I set up Prospect in London, we were already known in the PR/Communications market. Arriving in Asia, I knew nobody in PR/Communications and had to build relationships from scratch which was tough but at least in Asia, potential clients are very happy to give you a chance and meet for a coffee.  6 years later, I am proud that Prospect is a well-known brand in the Asia PR/Communications market.

If you could recruit for any 3 clients, who would they be and why? 

I love to recruit for clients that are passionate about their talent and want the very best. However in addition to wanting to get the best, employers need to offer the best career paths, training and development and working environments. I heard the Head of Comms & Public affairs Jin Montesano from Lixil (housing & building materials) speak at an event recently and her passion and determination to be a great employer really won me over. On the other hand sexy brands are appealing to candidates but they don’t always end up being great employers. There are many names that everyone thinks they want to work for, but when inside its often only the name that’s exciting and not the actual environment; clearly mentioning no names!

You’ve recently taken on a professional mentoring role with the Woman’s Foundation HK – tell us about that and what it means to you and your mentee?

 I am so passionate about coaching women in Asia and making sure they get the opportunity to take on leadership roles. Someone suggested I applied to be a mentor and despite a rigorous application process, I was accepted and mentored Vivian, a Hong Kong Chinese lawyer. It was a thoroughly enjoyable year and I really enjoyed mentoring someone outside my industry. This stretched me and made me think about other careers, cultures and honed my listening skills. I have been accepted again in this year’s program and am looking forward to mentoring Sunny Davis. In Hong Kong, young women struggle getting noticed in their firm, negotiating their salaries, getting promoted and being able to have a career and a family. From my own experience I am a firm believer in trying  to ‘have it all’ and making  a career and home life work. However it requires discipline and determination which I try and convey to my mentee.

Despite really pushing yourself professionally, you’re a real advocate of work / life balance – how do you facilitate this and ensure home life and work life are on an equal footing (or do you?). 

This is a constant concern for me but I do think I am managing it much better now.  It’s hard to get the perfect balance but I’m not far off and I’m happy with that. The key is to be firm with yourself and not to feel guilty. For years I felt guilty I was working when I should have been with my kids and then guilty when I was with my kids when I could have been working. I try to be very disciplined with my day and clear with everyone around me (family and work colleagues /clients) what I can/cannot do. In Hong Kong, school starts early so I start work early- getting in the office at 0800 means that I don’t feel guilty walking out at 6pm to be with my kids for homework, reading, playtime and bed.  It took me ages to finally work from home on a Friday but now I do I‘m highly productive and can fit in a hike or yoga class at 0700 and be there to greet my kids off the school bus which they love. I don’t work 9-5 and never have done. In order to fit in exercise and spend time with my kids, I have to sneak onto my laptop some evenings and at weekends when the kids are asleep or husband is out running.  Holidays I try and relax and unwind as I feel this is crucial to be productive when back at work.  Despite being ‘On’ all the time, I will delegate to the team and I certainly expect them to push their work onto me when they are on holiday.

You have a very sporty family with a love of the outdoors – what activities do you enjoy the most when you’re all together and what sporting challenges have you undertaken yourself in the past year? 

Hong Kong is full of country parks and mountains despite what everyone thinks. We live by the beach on the south of Hong Kong Island and have fantastic hikes on our doorstep which I take advantage of every week.  As a family we hike, walk our 2 Hong Kong rescue dogs, surf, paddle board and cycle to the next village on a Saturday for breakfast. However over the past year I have developed a love for hiking so I enjoy taking part in the annual Greenpower which is a 25k hike/run across the HK countryside finishing up in our own village. The best bit is relaxing in our garden with a well-earned glass of champagne afterwards!

Apart from One Direction and Girls Aloud what’s on your hiking playlist? 

I love listening to Capital Radio on my TuneIn Radio App and could not live without Spotify so you will be pleased to hear that I am fairly ‘current’ with my music taste! The old favorites are still there such as 80’s bands, Coldplay, One D and Girls Aloud but I’m also into Jess Glynne, Ellie Goulding, Sigma and Years & Years.

Who is the best baker in the family and what’s their ‘showstopper’?  

It has to be my youngest son Charlie who will give Mary Berry a run for her money. His show stopper is his chocolate roulade- it had rave reviews when I served it at one of my Dinner parties.

And finally, what’s next for Prospect Asia and Emma Dale in 2016? 

It will be about developing myself further and offering executive coaching. Having recruited for over 20 years, I am taking it up a notch and will be trained as an executive coach in order to help clients even further with their retention and attraction of talent across Asia. 


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