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29 May 2017

A Phoenix that Rises to
Transform Business Education

Hong Kong Institute of Marketing Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Hui is one of the top management and marketing educators in Hong Kong. Jeffrey, also known as Ling Yu Yi, was born Hui Jik-fai (BBA 2005, EMBA 2016). His areas of expertise are brand management and digital marketing. With a Doctor of Education degree from the UK, the man of many talents also moonlights as a consultant, training instructor, writer, radio host, and adjunct lecturer. Jeffrey says his path of teaching has not always run smooth. He aspires to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and be reborn as a stronger and more inspiring person as he surmounts every challenge.

Jeffrey (3rd from left) completed the EMBA Program in 2016. In his regalia, he poses with his family and Program Director Professor Andrew Chan Chi-fai (4th from left) on the CUHK campus.

Life Changing Lessons Learnt from CUHK Marketing Gurus

Jeffrey acquired the nickname “Father of Purple Ocean” by developing the “purple ocean strategy” at a young age. Most people know him by his pseudonym Ling Yu Yi, which originally belonged to his father. “I’d say this is the most priced treasure my father has left me. It sounds like ‘zero and one’ in Cantonese, meaning emptiness and fullness. It also symbolises theory and practice and has a programming vibe. Fittingly enough, I was specialising in writing online marketing articles, so I inherited the name.”

CUHK blood runs deep in Jeffrey’s family. His father is a graduate of Chung Chi College, and his mother worked at CUHK Library. After coming of age, Jeffrey enrolled twice in CUHK, where he was deeply influenced by two marketing authority figures. “One is EMBA Program Director Professor Andrew Chan Chi-fai, who is bringing business education into the mainstream. The other is Professor Mun Kin-chok, the Former Dean of the Business School, who is an expert on I Ching and incorporating philosophical elements like Yin and Yang into business studies. It inspired me to introduce liberal arts components to management studies later in life.”

Jeffrey went through trying times during his undergraduate years. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in year one, which severely hindered his studies. Fortunately, he managed to be selected by CUHK to go on an exchange program at the University of California, Berkeley. His hard work and struggle paid off when he achieved outstanding grades and regained his confidence. By learning applied psychology on his own, he was able to ease his depression and improve his academic performance drastically after returning to Hong Kong.

Jeffrey (right) is often invited to host or speak at marketing seminars, where he shares his insights with the audience

Walking a Thin Line between Theory and Practice

Fearing boredom and eager to learn, Jeffrey explored various careers for a few years upon graduation. His first job was to teach English at King’s Glory Education Centre. He then switched to corporate training and later entered Procter & Gamble Co. He was responsible for marketing and sales at P&G and at the same time acquired the knowledge that would become essential to his career in the future. “Being a tutor allowed me to accumulate experience in lecturing and sales. Corporate training made me realise what I needed to work on and understand that theory must be backed by real-life experience. Marketing consumer goods let me put my know-how to the test.”

As Chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing, Jeffrey (10th from left) gathers with leading marketers at the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing Market Leadership Award presentation ceremony.

In 2011, Jeffrey was at a turning point in his career. Digital marketing was booming. Many corporations wanted to ride on the wave to promote their business but lacked practical experience. Sensing the market potential, Jeffrey quit his job to set up InnoSights Limited and began to offer online advertising sales, training and consulting services. He was determined to lead traditional sectors to embrace the new digital marketing trend. Eventually the new company was able to seize a slice of the pie and signed up a number of corporate clients including L'Oréal, Maybelline, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé and Google.

Jeffrey simultaneously continued to build on his foundation of digital marketing and incorporated that with his corporate training insights, which then became his own school of philosophy. He was invited by the Hong Kong Management Association to run a social media marketing course, which was among the first in the city. It cemented his leadership status in the industry and paved his way to become Chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing later.

Eliminating Marketing and Management Illiteracy

Jeffrey believes that business education must be based on theories but not bounded by the theoretical model. It ought to be in touch with the real world in order to gain mainstream status. He has been promoting business education in different ways. For example, he writes brand marketing columns for publications such as Hong Kong Economic Journal, Headline Daily and Master Insight. He also edits his lecture notes into books. He has published several marketing titles such as Let Our Brands FLY!, Super BrandLinks, i-Marketing 0 & 1, which are regulars on bestseller lists. As a host of The World Academy on Metro Radio, he introduces his audience to world-class universities and interviews top academics and business leaders from an educational perspective.

Jeffrey (centre) is passionate about teaching. He established Dr. Phoenix Education in 2016. Friends from various sectors congratulate him at the grand opening.

Jeffrey founded education charity Phoenix Intellectual Foundation and launched an “Everyone Learns Marketing” campaign a few years ago. It encourages university students to impart practical marketing knowledge to social enterprises and non-government organisations. Last year he set up Dr. Phoenix Education to help primary and secondary school students raise their language proficiency and teach them public speaking, critical thinking and management skills.

A Wonderful Life Shaped by Education

Since last year, Jeffrey has returned to CUHK as an adjunct lecturer to convene a number of marketing and sales courses. He is delighted to give back to his alma mater as he is passionate about education. He also makes time outside his lectures to give small group tutorials to his students.

Jeffrey published his fifth book on business management i-Marketing 0 & 1Strategic i-Marketing Scriptures in the New Age in May this year. The book debuted at number one in the bestselling list of the Finance and Business category at Eslite Bookstore.

Jeffrey understands the unique nature of education for its ability to make a difference in people’s life. “Success is found between mindfulness and mindlessness” is his guiding principle for teaching and life. One must make a “mindful” effort with all his heart to advocate the proactive Confucius spirit and to attempt the impossible. In contrast, when dealing with outcomes, one must exercise “mindlessness” and follow the Taoist non-action concept to let nature takes its course. He looks forward to the day when the seed of wisdom blossoms and changes the lives of his students. Furthermore, he hopes that the students will surpass his legacy and pass the torch to the next generation.

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