What’s your story?
I grew up in Paris, and travelled to many places before settling down in Hong Kong, to run the Asian development of FIRST FINANCE, a business education company with a strong focus on innovation: MOOC, digital learning solutions, etc. for corporates and individuals, thanks to our spin-off FIRST FINANCE Institute.

What excites you most about your industry?
The fact that the training and education sector is finally experiencing its digital revolution, after others such as the music or banking industry. The landscape of education is being reshaped, and the recent acquisition of Lynda by LinkedIn shows a convergence between new ways of learning, online, open to everyone at their own path, and the job hunting world.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I first went to Asia in 2006, with a couple of friends. We took the Trans Siberian train throughout Russia, Mongolia, to finally travel across China and Vietnam. We were thrilled to discover Asian vibrant cities, as well as the amazing landscapes in the countryside. That’s when I decided to come back and settle down here.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong ! The rhythm here is intense but there are great opportunities for enthusiastic and hard-working minds. As long as you deliver, people here will trust you, no matter your age or how risky it can be for people to invest in you.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Not an advice I received, but a quote “By seeking and blundering we learn” – Goethe (hope it’s a real quote, but I like it anyway) .

Who inspires you?
A lot of people.. But right now Elon Musk is pretty cool !

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That more people speak English in China than in the US.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Tough question.. Oh, certainly find tickets for France – Brazil, soccer world cup final 1998. Yes, France won.

How do you unwind?
Practicing sports: football, trail jogging, swimming, and there are some great hikes in Hong Kong !

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I would say Bali and Siargao Island in Philippines, because theses places are gorgeous and they are nice waves for surfing.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Freakonomics”, by Steven Levitt. And “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. Both deal with our cognitive biases, and are extremely interesting and useful reading.

Shameless plug for your business:
FIRST FINANCE is one of the most experienced education and certification companies servicing the financial services industry. It is best known for its innovative digital solutions and high standards of instructional design. More info here: http://www.first-finance.asia

We also deliver innovative online-based programmes. So if you want to learn the fundamentals of business and get skills recognition from Tsinghua University, HEC Paris, or University of North Carolina, check this site: http://first-finance-institute.org/

How can people connect with you?
By email: [email protected], on LinkedIn, Twitter, WeChat, etc.

Twitter handle?
@romainrouphael

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

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