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Luxury Leader: 5 Questions With Emma Sherrard Matthew

Widely known as one of Hong Kong’s most entrepreneurial business women, YPO member Emma Sherrard Matthew started her leadership journey more than 11 years ago when  she was offered the position to launch a luxury lifestyle brand in Asia.

That brand was Quintessentially — now one of the world’s leading global luxury lifestyle management group with Emma serving as Executive Chairman of its Asia Pacific Group. She dove headfirst into the world of luxury and service.

Sherrard shares her key insights into launching and building a successful business — such as leading by example and remaining ahead of the curve at all times.

How did you get to where you are today and what contributed to that journey?  

I am extremely grateful to have worked with many amazing people, with the key ingredients being good mentorship, determination and a true passion for what I do.

Having been born in Singapore and raised in Asia and the United Kingdom, and having lived and worked on four continents, I truly am a globally minded citizen who views the world as her playground. My parents are extremely sociable and always entertaining, so my first job at one of London’s most prestigious events companies came naturally to me. As an eternal opportunist with an entrepreneurial spirit, I soon booked a one-way ticket back to Hong Kong, where I took up a position managing trade delegations to Mainland China.

Quintessentially approached me in 2005 to set up their Hong Kong office when the luxury industry was on the verge of being discovered in the region. I have always trusted my gut instinct so I knew this was the right decision. Since then I have never looked back.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it?

Certainly one of the biggest challenges I have faced was setting up Quintessentially’s Hong Kong office more than a decade ago. Professionally, I took a massive leap of faith which saw me use every ounce of courage and belief in my leadership and multitasking abilities. I learned a great deal about the importance of hiring and building a strong team around me, as well as juggling many different roles in a completely new market for the brand, where the concept of paying for lifestyle services was totally alien. Self-belief and determination are extremely important ingredients in becoming a successful leader.  I am extremely proud of how the company has evolved into a fully integrated marketing agency.

On a personal level, I have also always believed it’s very important to challenge yourself outside of work too, which is why my husband and I took part in a 100 km jungle trek in Papua New Guinea — known as the infamous Kokoda Track. Luckily, we survived to tell the tale but there were some hairy moments.

Complete the sentence: “If I were not a business leader, I would be a … ”

Tour guide.

I love looking after people and showing them the incredible world we live in. I also love discovering hidden gems and amazing new experiences which I can share with others.

What do you feel are the most important things to be aware of for today’s leaders?

Digitizing your business. Embracing the technological and digital revolution is essential for today’s business leaders, where the online and offline needs to work as one. We have done some amazing things with social media on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and when used correctly (in line and where appropriate for your business) these can provide amazing communication tools. This links directly to the digitally plugged-in millennial generation — watch out and engage with this group as they are at the forefront of tomorrow’s decision makers.

Finally, and underpinning all of our efforts, we should be trying to make the world a better place. I truly believe in the importance of giving back and having a strong sense of commitment to social responsibility.

How has being in YPO positively affected your business or leadership?

Obviously, the extensive network is extraordinary and I have had the pleasure of meeting some inspiring individuals since I joined. My horizons have definitely been broadened. From a business perspective, a number of YPO members are actually also Quintessentially members, and our travel arm, Quintessentially Travel, is a preferred travel partner of YPO.

 What are your top insights for other leaders?

  • Surround yourself with great talent to complement your skill set and make sure you have diversity within your team.
  • Love and immerse yourself in what you do; passion is vital to success.
  • Look to the future, engage with your customers. Get to know them well and understand their changing personal needs.