When compiling ’s annual 40 Under 40 list of achievers, we followed some basic rules. First, to state the obvious, all the contenders have to be no more than 40 years old. Second, they need to have done something remarkable — and worth writing about — in the past 12 months (since last summer’s edition of 40 Under 40). And third, they have to be here in Hong Kong.
Now that last stipulation can be a bit of a doozy. The pervasive cloud of defeat and ennui during the pandemic got even the best of us. According to one newspaper op-ed: “As emigration from Hong Kong steadily gathers pace, a different picture emerges. This time, they won’t come back. A conservative triangulation of government data suggests that about 1,000 people a day are currently leaving Hong Kong permanently.”
Well, we’re here to present you with a somewhat different picture, a jigsaw comprising 40 different pieces — men and women who are choosing to stay in Hong Kong and construct something different, something better than before.
To start, our editors put forward more than 80 names for consideration, every one of which was mulled over at length…And eventually around half of them were culled. If they didn’t shift the needle forward, extend themselves in a noteworthy manner compared with previous years, then they found their chances evaporating.
Thus, on this year’s listing you’ll find a conspicuous absence of the usual suspects — in fact, 95 percent of the names in the following pages have never been featured before. The novelty lies in not only their faces, but their actions in trying to build a better society, environment or business — and in some cases even reaffirming our hope in humanity.
We found one lady who provided medical mobile units to the government to help the old, infirm and the disenfranchised in remote parts of Hong Kong as the pandemic raged. An heiress who gave up working on her accessories brand and instead committed to philanthropy. Women who left lucrative investment banking careers to deep dive into fixing the education system. And someone who sells luxury condos and flowers by day, but by night provides mental health solutions to those seeking help. You’ll find all these, and more.
So this emphatically isn’t the usual hierarchical roster of the holier-than-thou — for good measure, ahem, we even list our favourite bartender (if ever there was a year to have a stiff drink, this was surely it), plus soothing dulcet singers and exquisite chefs, and a few original designers and dreamy models. But the common thread you’ll find binding together this diverse group is project hope. Standing tall in the face of adversity, these fine young achievers have adopted an admirable stance as they look forward into the light and continue with their endeavours – whatever those may be.