Ms Amanda Yu, Chief Operating Officer of China Wah Yan Healthcare Limited, a company listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (the “HKEx”), has demonstrated a good balance between entrepreneurial spirit and corporate governance in managing a business, as evidenced by her works in directing the company in going through the two-year suspension of trading in its shares on the HKEx.
Amanda’s progressive ascension from a trainee to a senior management person and her corporate turnaround capability are mainly attributable to her belief in teamwork (people-oriented management), which is best described by her mottos of “Great Wall was not erected by a single person” and “Common Aspirations towards Common Goals”.
Amanda, in the early 1990s, started her career at a multi-national manufacturing group with operations in China, Hong Kong and a number of countries in America, where she had a chance to learn about every aspect of the manufacturing process from the inside and from product design, engineering, procurement, production, logistics to export and made progressive positions from an administrative assistant to the chief executive officer in 15 years. During her tenure, Amanda’s aspiration was not just to keep the business growing in terms of profit level but also the sustainability of its growth in the long run, where corporate governance is a supporting pillar. She, a born team player from home to school to work, during those years, had gained valuable experience in executing plans to the details and encouraging staff at different levels and positions to see matters from the same perspective and act in the same direction as the company.
Amanda immigrated to Canada in mid-1990s, where she assisted the manufacturing group in growing its business in Canada and the United States. After occurrence of the financial crisis in 1997, Amanda took on the challenge to help the group expand in America, where the group was granted the exclusive distribution right of a Korean brand to sell consumer products manufactured or sub-contracted by the group under the brand. Amanda, during the tenure of her management, on one hand, successfully managed to substantially increase the sales in those countries and expand the product type, and on the other hand, had devoted much resources of the group for compliance with the local rules and regulations, thereby setting the solid foundation for the long term development of the group in the region.
For family purpose, Amanda subsequently returned to Canada and then Hong Kong. After having been with the group and in the manufacturing sector for more than 15 years, she decided to take up new challenges and opened up her eyes for new opportunities where she could utilize her experience and expertise.
In 2012, Amanda joined China Wah Yan Healthcare Limited as the chief operating officer. Trading in the shares of the company was suspended at that time and the company was facing a number of critical problems including licensing concern with the government, shareholders’ dispute, management conflict, internal control issue and litigations. Shortly after joining the company, Amanda quickly showed her execution capability to articulate the strategic direction of the company, particularly in enhancing its corporate governance, which she formulated in terms of “Common Aspiration towards a Common Goal”.
2012 was not an easy year for Amanda. Amanda, together with the then newly appointed chairman of the board of directors, restructured its board of directors (including appointment of a professional accountant and a lawyer to the board for their expertise to enhance the company’s corporate governance) and management team to streamline the company’s business model for higher transparency and more effective and efficient management. Amanda brought in her experience and expertise to motivate the middle management of the company to look beyond their individual job descriptions with the common goal of maintaining the business. Under her management, the company adopted a new share option scheme and improved its remuneration system to reward the employees based on their performance, working experience and the prevailing market prices, and, more importantly, to show the company’s recognition of their loyalty despite such a challenging time. During that year, Amanda endeavoured the management of the company in such a difficult operating environment to maintain the competitiveness of the company in the medical sector and revamp the lasting damages inherited from the disputes among previous management and shareholders.
During that year, Amanda also took the lead to engage an internal control consultancy firm to perform a review on the company’s financial reporting procedures and internal control systems in accordance with recognised framework. In addressing the regulators’ concerns, Amanda further took charge in engaging a forensic investigation company to conduct investigation on issues relating to shareholders’ dispute and management conflicts. Based on the reports of those professional firms, Amanda, together with the auditors and legal advisers to the company, supervised the adoption of the proposed recommendation in tackling the weaknesses identified in the company’s internal control systems and followed through the whole process until the internal control consultancy and forensic investigation companies were satisfied with the rectifications.
In order to mitigate the regulatory risk associated with the company’s certain medical assets that lacked of the required licences, Amanda participated in the negotiation with the company’s business partners for disposal of all such non-licensed medical assets during that year and worked with legal advisers to minimize the negative impact of such disposal on the company’s business. By end of 2012, all of the company’s remaining medical assets possessed the required licenses for operation.
What today still deeply has hung in Amanda’s memory was a shareholders’ meeting held during 2012 that several elderly shareholders of the company cried at the scene on concern whether the company could ever resume its trading and whether their investment will become wall papers (i.e. with nil value). The share price performance of a company may be subject to many factors (such as business cycle, government policies, macro-economics, market sentiments and investors’ preference) which are not within the control of the management of a company, but according to Amanda, what management should do (i.e. the fundamental requirement of a responsible management) is to get the trading in the shares resumed such that the shareholders can be given an opportunity to decide on cashing out on their investment or continuing to hold on to their investment.
In her experience in international business in different countries and context for more than 15 years, Amanda had learned things more important than the textbook knowledge of a simple “win-win” in her education from master’s degree in business administration. “In order for a business to succeed in the longer run, all-win, which means an above-zero-sum-gain situation for all stakeholders in the business (including employees and their families, shareholders, suppliers, customers, counterparts, partners, creditors, the government and the community), is more crucial than a simple two-side win-win situation,” says Amanda. In order to achieve the all- win situation, Amanda’s belief in “Common Aspirations towards Common Goals” being the essential medium to adhere all stakeholders together and arrive at the all- win state has been proven in her track record in the successful restructuring of the company.
Today, Amanda has taken on another challenge as the chairlady of the board of directors of a resources company, the trading in whose shares has been suspended on the HKEx, where she works, by leveraging on her expertise and experience, to restructure its business and enhance its corporate governance with a common goal of its shareholders, employees, business partners, the local community and the government for resumption of the trading in its shares and to bring return to them.
Ms Amanda Yu is a winner of the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2015 Hong Kong, under the Most Promising Category. The Awards were held on 14 October 2015 at Island Shangri-La Hotel, Hong Kong.