German-born Katharina Reimer is a well-known face in Hong Kong’s financial industry. She has worked at ING Investment Management, Atradius and several other firms. Since 2017 she is the Executive Director of the Karen Leung Foundation, a cancer charity with close links to the hedge fund industry which will host the 9th annual SohnX Hong Kong conference on 20th May (event details here: SohnX Hong Kong — The Sohn Conference Foundation). HFC’s Stefan Nilsson caught up with Katharina to find out more about the life she leads in Hong Kong.
From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
I generally start the day by browsing through my various news alerts which come in via email. I am also a subscriber of The Economist and listen to their podcasts when I walk up the Peak in Hong Kong a couple of times a week. I rarely have time to read an actual newspaper with two kids under five in the house.
What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
Unwinding on the weekend tends to be a challenge as we have a fun yet always busy family life. However, my husband and I like to steal ourselves away for long Saturday lunches and I often do a solo hike and coffee prior to that for some “me” time.
Can you name a great book you have recently read?
As mentioned earlier, “reading” is somewhat of a luxury at the moment for me. The last book I read in full was “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates. The last audio-book I listened to is called “The Woman I Wanted to Be” an autobiographic account by Diane von Furstenberg. I tend to gravitate to books that connect to real-life and personal stories. Two of my all-time favourite novels are “The Alchemist” and “Shantaram”.
Your soundtrack of choice?
Anything old: The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Queen, to name a few. I do have a couple of DJs I sometimes listen to who paved the way for modern music back then in Germany – after all, I am from Berlin, the music capital of Germany.
What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
It used to be an oat latte, but I recently participated in a nutritional reboot program and I now have a green or herbal tea to start the day and once I get to the office, I’ll have that latte. Depending on what day of the week it is, either sparkling water or a glass of Malbec finishes the day.
What’s the worst money mistake you’ve made?
I invested in a new restaurant launch in Hong Kong. Needless to say, in a city that features three restaurants per person, this was not the smartest well-thought-out investment idea.
Have you ever had a great mentor and what did you learn?
I had several great mentors along the way and especially in the earlier parts of my career. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to never be afraid to ask a question, as regardless of how old you are, there will inevitably be things you don’t know.
What gives you energy?
Sport and exercise. I don’t really run anymore that much these days, but I play tennis and hike regularly. If I don’t, I really do see a difference in my focus and energy levels.
How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
I am a person which works extremely well under pressure. Challenging times are generally nothing that worries me. 2020 has certainly upped the ante a bit and staying grounded was more of a task than normal. Again, exercise and carving out a bit of “me” time are generally key for me to prevail.
Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
Currently in Hong Kong, given that travel is limited, my favourite place is Frantzen Kitchen. The food and wine menu are delectable and the French toast with truffle is absolutely divine. I almost don’t want to recommend it, as it is tiny and reservations are hard to come by, given they now operate at half capacity.
What’s your favourite museum in the world?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
In 2019 we started looking differently at our cancer awareness work and I signed up for an Instagram account. Now, next to LinkedIn, that’s my preferred channel for research when it comes to wellness brands and trends. LinkedIn remains more of a corporate outreach channel for me and where I keep up to date with some topical matters that leaders talk about.
Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
Ice cream – I love it and can eat a whole tub.
What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
My mother always wore elegant clothing and mostly very feminine items. I have stepped in her footsteps and mostly wear a dress or a feminine ensemble. In my book, casual Friday goes as far as dark jeans, crisp shirt and a blazer.
Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
Yes! And celebrations would typically involve a nice lunch or dinner paired with a glass or two of champagne with the team.
What makes you happy?
My husband and the kids. My youngest son was born just before Covid started in Hong Kong and he has by far been our silver lining in all the madness.