Here’s 7 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About This Year’s Gen.T Honourees
1/7“I spent the first five years of my life living on a sailing boat in Sai Kung”
Keshia Hannam is the co-founder of Camel Assembly, which brings together creative female leaders from cities including New York, LA and Hong Kong. Her current success was born from a less than conventional upbringing, after she spent her formative years living the tropical dream on a boat moored near perfect white-sand beaches of Sai Kung. Her organisation is founded on the belief that our individual lives can transform once we recognise the power in our autonomy. A belief that no doubt has its roots in her adventurous start in life.
See also: I Am Generation T: Keshia Hannam
2/7“I was autistic when I was a kid. I painted abstract feelings as a sculpture of time”
Clive Lee is the CEO of the Yidan Prize Foundation, which has a mission to create a better world through education. Lee himself has seen the transformative effect a good education can have. He battled with autism in his youth, but inspirational teachers helped him reach his clearly impressive potential—and as a result, he now he aims to recreate that with the Yidan Prize, which is the world's largest education award, celebrating innovative and future-oriented teachers.
3/7“I slept with my two co-founders”
Ray Chan is the CEO and co-founder of 9Gag, a website that claims to have the best viral videos, memes and “WTF” photos on the internet. And before you start wondering if it’s also a covert dating site, Chan’s bed-sharing was entirely platonic, as he and his co-founders were saving every cent they had for the startup, which meant sleeping in the same hotel room on business trips. Although, given that their mission is to make the world a happier place, we imagine it was still a pretty fun bed to be in.
See also: The Secret To Creating Viral Content—According to 9Gag
4/7“Even though I’ve pitched and presented so much, I am super introvert and fearful of speaking.”
Anyone who has experienced shyness in their life can recognise this quote from Kevin Johan Wong, the co-founder and CEO of Origami Labs, a wearable tech company based out of Hong Kong. They make ORII, the world's first voice-powered smart ring that creatively uses bone conduction to turn the hand into a powerful communication device. Wong is the company’s top fundraiser, innovator and coffee consumer. He has also moved past his introvert tendencies, partly due to growing up with a father who was visually impaired from the age of 13, which taught him to let nothing stand in the way of his ambitions.
See also: In The Bag: Kevin Johan Wong Of Origami Labs
5/7“My first language is actually German”
While his name might sound rather Teutonic, Max von Poelnitz looks and sounds like your classic East Coast American. But while he was raised in the States, his family background is pure German, and he learned to speak the language before English. No doubt this bilingual background is one of the reasons why he was inspired to start Nosh—Hong Kong’s first "virtual cafeteria"—in one of the most multi-cultural cities in Asia.
See also: I Am Generation T: Max von Poelnitz
6/7“Between the ages of five and 18, I attended nine different schools and have lived in places as diverse as the US, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Kuwait, Spain and Hong Kong”
With a childhood like that, people assume that Victoria Wisniewski Otero is the daughter of diplomats, but she actually had a relatively conventional childhood, with parents who worked in construction and education. And while the constant moves disrupted her early friendship groups, they also made her very adaptable and exposed her to diverse groups of people from a young age. This shaped her perspective permanently and was one of the reasons she launched Resolve, a non-profit organisation that empowers community leaders from across a diverse range of marginalised groups.
7/7“I play the piano, oboe, violin, viola and saxophone—and I sing”
With a repertoire like that under her belt, you would be forgiven for thinking that Philippa Wong was a professional musician, but her day job is arguably even more important to the music world than her gift for playing instruments . She launched M.Int Academy to help Hongkongers of all ages from a variety of backgrounds to learn a musical instrument under instructors recruited from the world’s top conservatories. Oh—and did we mention she’s also a professional interior designer?