Caroline Hsu | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

Caroline Hsu

Asia-Pacific Managing Director 

The Hoffman Agency
Hong Kong 

“It is also important to remember that innovation can come in different degrees."

Caroline Hsu is a big-picture thinker, a trait that’s been instrumental in The Hoffman Agency’s growth across APAC since she took command of the agency’s work in the region roughly three years ago. Never one to accept the status quo, Hsu has spearheaded Hoffman’s investment in digital, integrated comms offerings and Greater China, including the opening of a Taiwan office — all while fostering a culture in line with a high-performance organization. Knowing the value of talent, Hsu makes a priority of cultivating employees’ potential; she spent four months priming a Chinese national based in Hoffman’s Silicon Valley operation for a cross-border business development role. Hsu is a giver outside the office, too, mentoring young women not only in the PR business but in the tech industry, too. 

How do you define innovation?  
Innovation means to improve or to replace something, for example, a process, a product, or a service. Innovation is a process by which a domain, a product, or a service is renewed and brought up to date by applying new processes, introducing new techniques, or establishing successful ideas to create new value.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
A US politician and a group of popular game streamers push for voting in the US elections. It was the first time I'd seen a politician directly promote political participation, while just casually playing games on a technology platform. 

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
Google, Apple, Nike, Airbnb

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
I think I was most innovative four years ago when I first took this role as managing director of APAC for The Hoffman Agency. I took on the task of transforming our business from PR to integrated communications, and implemented innovation in terms of process improvement, product development, service innovation, etc.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Jeff Bezos

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
I would get up and do something completely different from the task at hand, so that includes reading a new book or article that can inspire new thoughts and ideas.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
We should get into a habit of developing and encouraging a culture of innovation. This could be as simple as challenging the status quo and breaking the rules; or just brainstorming and collecting ideas from everywhere; or a more structured approach in putting together an innovation team of individuals with different perspectives and thinking styles. It is also important to remember that innovation can come in different degrees. The mere improvement – for example, of processes or products – can be a great incremental innovation. As long as there is a culture of innovation in place, your organization, processes, products will be constantly adapting and evolving, and your company will benefit from it in the long-term.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
I would be a writer, YouTuber and/or an Airbnb host.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I really enjoyed reading books like “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne and “101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think,” by Brianna Wiest. These books helped me to reset, put things into perspective, and motivated me to manifest the type of future I want to live in.

What's your favourite time of day and why? 
My favorite time of the day is either very early in the morning with my cup of coffee, or very late in the evening with a glass of wine, because it’s the time of day when you feel most at peace with your own thoughts, as if time stops before all the craziness of life rushes in.