When I was attracted by the opportunity in 2010 to help Facebook – now rebranded as Meta -- to open its first office in Hong Kong,in fact Meta at that time was still a very young company. Last year when Icelebrated the 10th anniversary for my Facebook career and now I look back into my journey, I feel humbled and thrilled to have witnessed the rapid transformation of our industry, the growth of community on Meta in HongKong and globally, and how new technology has helped to make our world and communities more connected than ever.
Ten years may seem like a long journey to many. In Hong Kong, the locals often jokingly ask ourselves: “How many ten years will you have in your lifetime?” – a phrase that means we should seize the moment and chase our dreams. Ten years ago, mobile tablets were just gaining popularity. Facebook only had around 600 million active users globally (versusabout 3 billion today!) and Instagram just got created.
Ten years ago, I was running around Hong Kong: working out of cafes or in the back of taxis before we secured business registration and started a small office in the eastern district on Hong KongIsland. Ten years on, we grew from a small but mighty team to now a much bigger one.
The past decade has been marked by many memorable learnings. At Meta, we believe that feedback is a gift. I want to take this opportunity to share some of my learnings with female leaders and young,emerging leaders to hopefully inspire you to build your leadership skills whilst you develop your career.
Those who have worked at Meta will tell you that we are a poster company – literally. In our offices around the world, you will see lots of meaningful posters plastered on the walls. Three of my favorite posters bear the taglines that I really believe in and have helped to shape my leadership style.
Few people may know that I actually joined Meta as a contractor in the beginning, since the company didn’t have an official office in Hong Kong at the time. My first task was naturally to set up an office. Right before I decided to join Meta, I was also approached by another much bigger technology company, which offered a higher ranking, better-paid role to me. I decided to take the risk and follow my passion, because Facebook’s mission to connect the whole world really inspired me.
In 2010, Meta was still quite a small player in Hong Kong. Frankly, it was a big leap of faith to believe that our business would take off and this could not possibly happen without a good team,a good product, and the confidence that you can make it, even if it’s something unprecedented. Between a more stable job and a rocketship that was just about to take off in Hong Kong, I chose Meta, the rocketship.
Fast forward to 2013. We had the opportunity to go beyond Hong Kong and expand into the rest of the Greater China region. Hong Kong has always been an important hub for us in Asia Pacific. Today we have more than 5.8 million active users in Hong Kong. People use Facebook to connect with each other, to find the products they love, and to help communities in both good and bad times.
These experiences have taught us to never the underestimate opportunity in front of us. Sometimes we just have to trust your intuition and take a bet. Aim big, dream bold and we’ll be pleasantly surprised at how high we can reach.
During the first few years, there were only a handful of us working from a small business center. We had to buy stationary, snacks and even toilet paper by ourselves from the supermarket downstairs. We would clean up the meeting room after use and pick up any rubbish on the floor. We played our roles as not only sales managers but also marketing managers, creative consultants, and of course our own office admins.
The days were hectic yet those were one of my favorite times, because as a small but mighty team, we brought huge impact.There was not a lot of “me vs. you”. We were quick to give feedback to one another and worked together as a team to fine-tune our approach. Ten years later, we are now in a much more privileged position with well-supported and multi-functional regional and global teams. However, I’m always reminded of those early days and even today, we still operate with a culture of supporting one another and making the best decisions for the business rather than for ourselves.
Being a startup means you can move fast and pivot quickly – quite important for any business in today’s fast-changing business environment. But being a startup sometimes doesn’t mean how short or how long you've been in the business. Even a century-old business can keep its startup spirit alive in the heart of every single employee.
And yes, we still pick the rubbish off the floor every day.
I’m still excited about being part of Meta after all these years because there are always new challenges to push us to learn, adapt and grow, even if it might mean feeling uncomfortable. Ten years ago, my weekly team meeting used to be done by having every single team member around the room talk about their updates, until it became physically impossible, unless we spent the full day on it. The key lesson? I have to keep reinventing myself and the business in order to stay ahead of the game. Whatever worked in the past might not work again for the journey ahead. While changes are tough, I get a lot of joy when seeing things get optimized.
And so, ten years have gone by.
I’m glad that I made the bold bet to jump onto this rocket ship ride. I’m grateful for having a team that supports one another like nothing is somebody else’s problems. This century has clearly accelerated all kinds of changes from climate to geopolitics. I consider it a privilege to be taking the front seat to witness history playing out in front of us.
This is Meta’s journey in Hong Kong, and my learnings from my first decade with the company. I’m counting my blessings every day as I continue on with the 99% of this journey. I hope the “three principles'' that I’ve shared will inspire female leaders at any stage of their careers. If you know how to grow with your team, pivot in response to the market, be bold and grasp the opportunity when it emerges – you’re on the right path to building your leadership skills.
(Jayne Leung is Vice President and Head of Greater China at Meta, previously known as Facebook. She is the first employee for Meta in Hong Kong and the first female in the Asia Pacific region promoted to Vice President. Jayne is an experienced mentor for many young talents. She is also a strong advocate for gender equality and female leadership in business and society. Jayne was one of the TEDxTongChongSt 2019 speakers.)