Q&A with Shanghai-based
Leadership Network member Eleni Hogg

We chat with Leadership Network member Eleni Hogg about living and working in Shanghai, a city she says gets better and better the longer you’re there.

Who: Eleni Hogg

Where: Shanghai - 5 years

Eleni's five words to describe Shanghai: vibrant, cosmopolitan, inspiring, energetic and underrated!

Job: Manager of Tribal Brand Asia, a boutique marketing agency specialising in growing New Zealand food and beverage brands in China

Leadership Network member since: 2018

Eleni speaking to an audience at New Zealand Week

Eleni speaking to an audience at a New Zealand Week event

What took you to Shanghai?

Curiosity about other cultures, a sense of adventure, and an internship.

I had heard great things about Shanghai both from a commercial/career point of view and also from a lifestyle perspective and both have proven accurate.

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner and as I studied international business and modern languages, it made a lot of sense; and on a personal level, I heard the East-meets-West culture, fashion and food were incredible. That, and the awesome friends I have made are what have kept me here so long.

Nothing really ‘brought’ me here, I went out on a bit of a limb, starting out at an internship for a hole in the wall real estate company, initially living with a host family and coaching tennis on the side.

I soon realised that to succeed  here was going to take more effort than I envisaged!

Ultimately, like most places, it is all about the people, and so I worked to build my network, getting out and about, and eventually I met my now boss at the Rooty Moot (an artisan pink ginger soda) brand launch at New Zealand Central.

How did you find settling into life over there?

At the start it was difficult but exciting; I remember staring up at the towers and Gucci shops on every second corner wide eyed.

I really got into the Shanghai expat life when I moved into a shared apartment with a now dear friend from Ireland, Alice, who worked for Pernod Ricard’s Jameson whiskey.

Eleni outside with tall buildings behind her

Eleni: "It’s a city where I think life gets better and better the longer you’re here."

We were in our early twenties and her job was basically to make friends with all the coolest bar tenders in town. I would go with her and we’d have such a blast, scooting around the French Concession exploring speak easy’s, underground clubs and glitzy parties.

It’s a city where I think life gets better and better the longer you’re here. Improved language skills, closer relationships, knowledge of the restaurants, where to get this fixed or buy that and increased job opportunities.

Tell us about your job

It’s so varied. Our work with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) is about helping New Zealand food and beverage businesses grow in China.

We run the annual New Zealand Week, build relationships with F&B trade and manage a chef platform called chefco, designed to build a network of NZ-loving chefs here. And for brands like Avanza avocados, Envy & Jazz apples or Fisher & Paykel, we design and execute marketing activities like strategy, branding, activation, packaging, events, insights, social media etc.

You play a pretty significant role organising New Zealand Week; can you tell us about that?

I project manage the annual New Zealand Week (NZW), which is now a 17-day campaign in five Chinese cities promoting New Zealand food, beverage, culture and tourism.

Eleni holding a jar of Pic's peanut butter, standing beside a man holding a box of Pic's Peanut butter fudge

New Zealand Week is a China-wide promotion of New Zealand food, beverage and culture

My role starts with pitching NZTE the strategy for the year, then together with my team and NZTE recruiting New Zealand brands to join. This year we had 70 brands participate from big players like Fonterra & Zespri to artisan brands like Pic’s & Lewis Road Creamery.

Then we work with China-based hotels, restaurants, cafés, and  retailers to create a New Zealand promotion. This year there were over 200 individual venues promoting the week(s).

We also collaborate with NZ inc. i.e. the New Zealand consulate, Tourism New Zealand and corporate sponsors to bring the cultural and tourism elements. This year the ‘Tuku Iho’ exhibition ran simultaneously with NZW, which really brought the culture to life through ta moko, carving and art pieces.

Does it (NZW) challenge your leadership skills in any way?

Wow yes, every year.

Managing so many stakeholders is the biggest challenge - balancing everyone’s agendas and ongoing requests while managing a relatively modest budget, but it’s a super rewarding project.

NZW really shows the power of collaboration – we’re a tiny country and I think we really punch above our weight in this market by working together which is something I’m proud to be a part of.

If there was one thing from New Zealand that could be magically transported to you, what would it be?

The beach! (is that too big?!)