During my first weeks in Hong Kong, in the late autumn of 2008, I greeted people on the street or in the corridors of The Gateway not infrequently, believing that this person was my colleague who worked at a few cubicles away in the office; all these people reacted with surprise and some prevention to my effusive greetings … Weeks later, I understood that I was wrong and that I had greeted many people who were not my colleagues. I laughed at myself, at my ignorance, the journey began.    

During those same first weeks, I lost about three or five kilos of weight, something important given that I was not overweight on my arrival in Hong Kong. Weeks later, I realized that it was the result of my lack of skill in handling chopsticks, but in a short time I was able to regain the lost weight and add a few extra kilos after having mastered the chopsticks. 

Not infrequently, during those same first weeks, I waited for the minibus on the wrong side of the street, seeing how that number 3 was going away, the one that would take me from Mong Kok to Tsim Sha Tsui in minutes. It took me a while to learn that I was in another world. 

When I arrived in Hong Kong, I ignored the rules of the real estate, labor and social markets, but I did receive all the support, especially because I was adopted by a family, my new great family which protected and re-educated me, a family which tolerated my ignorance of their culture and values and offered me the privilege of a place at the table, to work, eat and celebrate together. I was not alone.  

It is to that family that I am writing this message, to you, my Latin Department family.  

For me, Latin Department, that is precisely my Family, I think not only for myself, but also for many of our clients, who like many of us, one day arrived or wanted to reach the other side of the world and had the privilege of finding more than just a service provider. For many of them, the Latin Department has been a family that welcomed and supported them in their projects, far beyond the portfolio of services that are bought and sold. Thomas’ interest and urgency in supporting our clients are genuine and I am aware that his selfless interest is superior to a business one; faith, service and community are practiced inside and outside the Latin Department. 

It is a privilege to be part of this family and I tell fragments of my experience that perhaps only make sense to me, but with it, I want to honor a great truth and from my heart, celebrate with gratitude and humility, in family, this permanent journey on the other side of the world. I also know that for my non-Latino family, this has also been a challenge and continuous learning opportunity.  

A new era is making its way for the world and its businesses and with it, new challenges and opportunities will arise for those who have the necessary humility and determination. The Latin Department will continue helping and accompanying many people, companies, organizations and governments on their Journey to the other side of the world. 

Written by Mauricio Quiroz

[Remarks: Mauricio Quiroz joined Thomas Wong’s Latin Department in November 2008. He’s a graduate in Business Administration from Universidad de Medellín in Colombia and holds an MSc in China Business Studies from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and a Postgraduate Certificate in Asia Business from the St. Gallen Institute of Management in Asia (Switzerland and Singapore). His fruitful career as part of the Latin Department brought him from the level of Advisor to Senior Manager and ended in April 2013 after he joined the Colombian diplomatic service as the first Director of ProColombia in South Korea. Mauricio Quiroz is currently based in Switzerland where he lives with his wife and two kids and is responsible for international accounts and business development at a Swiss financial services company.]