When Viveca Chan (BBA ’76), chairman and chief executive officer of WE Marketing Group, arrived at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, it was her first time away from her Hong Kong home. “At that time, there was no Internet, and long-distance calls were expensive,” says Viveca. “I had to learn to live on my own in a new culture. In Wisconsin, I learned to be independent and self-confident.”
After graduating, Viveca returned to Hong Kong to work on large multinational accounts at an international ad agency. In the beginning, she relied on what she’d learned at the Wisconsin School of Business: “I often referenced my advertising, marketing, and media books on my client projects.”
Viveca took a risk, joining a new agency that was acquired by Grey Global Group six months after its opening, becoming one of the most successful local agencies in Hong Kong.
“I worked with Grey Global Group for over 25 years, and the company gave me a lot of opportunities to grow.”
She rose to chairman and CEO in the 1990s, building new capabilities such as public relations, event marketing, interactive, Internet advertising, and customer relationship management. She even initiated the first TV ratings research in China with A.C. Nielsen.
In 2005, Grey was acquired by advertising giant WPP, and Viveca decided to strike out on her own. She started a new company, WE Marketing Group, with several working partners. “With China being the second largest advertising market in the world, I thought there should be a Chinese-owned global agency,” she says.
WE was one of the first agencies to develop expertise in growing areas like social media and e–commerce, and added these key services before its competitors. In short, Viveca’s ability to be a first mover in digital marketing for the China market has positioned WE as a one–stop shop for U.S. companies that want to enter the region.
“Dare to do things that have not been done before,” says Viveca. “Don’t be afraid to be the first to do something. Be results driven, look ahead, and act on opportunities.”