Dr. Hinrich met with students who joined the Hinrich Global Trade Leader Scholarship Programme supported by the Hinirch Foundation
Dr. Merle A. Hinrich
- Executive Chairman of Global Sources Limited
- Honorary Permanent President of Hong Kong Baptist University Foundation
- Chapter Honouree of Beta Gamma Sigma HKBU Chapter
- Founder and Chairman of the Council of Members of the Hinrich Foundation
- Founder of Global Sources Research Foundation
- Co-founder and former Chairman of the Society of Hong Kong Publishers
- Director on the Board of The Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association
- Member of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C.
- International Board Member of the Weizmann Institute of Science
- Member of Advisory Board of Tsinghua University
- Investment Promotion Ambassador with Invest Hong Kong
- Member of the Hong Kong Foundations Exchange
- Member of the Pacific Basin Economic Council
- Honorary Doctorate of the University of Nebraska (1996)
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of International Law of the Thunderbird School of Global Management (2010)
- Honorary Fellow of Hong Kong Baptist University (2015)
Dr. Merle A. Hinrich, Executive Chairman of Global Sources Limited, is no stranger to the HKBU family. He is the Honorary Permanent President of the Hong Kong Baptist University Foundation. In 2015, an Honorary Fellowship was also conferred on Dr. Hinrich by HKBU, in recognition of his remarkable contributions to society and his highly valued support for the University. Just two months ago, he was awarded the Chapter Honouree of the Beta Gamma Sigma HKBU Chapter for his significant contribution to fostering business in global trade.
“We started supporting HKBU when there was only one building on the campus,” Dr. Hinrich recalled. At that time, Dr. Hinrich’s company, Global Sources, together with the South China Morning Post, Readers’ Digest, and several other publications were closely involved with HKBU to provide assistance and support. Beyond helping recruit students and solicit scholarships, they sent their Western editors to participate in the programmes for HKBU students. “Our editors would teach students what business journalism is in daily practice. What they did as an editor, what was expected from them, and what their career would be like in journalism for example,” said Dr. Hinrich.
Dr. Hinrich believed that his relationship with HKBU has by no means been a case of one-way giving. In fact it has been a win-win situation for all. “My core business in those days was primarily in the printing industry and we were in need of employees who were competent in English and journalism. HKBU has a good reputation for its dual language journalism programme. Over the years we have recruited many of our employees from HKBU, whom many have since risen to very senior positions. For example, our recently retired CEO Mr. Spenser Au is a graduate of HKBU.” Dr. Hinrich's ties with HKBU continue to this day. For example, at the International Media Salon seminar held in 2013, Dr. Hinrich generously shared with students his insights into successful leadership and career development. He particularly emphasised the need for lifelong learning in a rapidly changing world.
Through the philanthropic activities of the Hinrich Foundation, Dr. Hinrich encourages the private sector and governments to drive innovation and competitiveness in trade-related activities. Generous support has been provided to HKBU by the Hinrich Global Trade Leader Scholarship, established for the benefit of individuals who wish to develop a career in trade through their studies in Business and Journalism.
A foundation promoting sustainable global trade
Besides partnering with universities and export companies to offer fully funded scholarships and jobs for individuals who are passionate about global trade, Dr. Hinrich provides trade assistance to producers through his philanthropic Foundation. The Hinrich Foundation was established with the mission of promoting sustainable global trade. “I want to establish a professional organisation contributing to the growth of international trade. We should never take globalisation for granted,” said Dr. Hinrich. “Many companies around the world do not have the current capacity to participate in international trade. We help them meet prospective buyers and gain access to this opportunity. Through our Hinrich Foundation Export Assistance Programme, we connect small- and medium-sized manufacturers with international buyers through the business-to-business marketing website of Global Sources Online, the online Developing Country Sourcing website, and trade shows such as the Global Sources Electronics show in Hong Kong. We also provide coaching to producers on how to successfully navigate in global trade.”
Success born from passion
When being asked what the key to success is, Dr. Hinrich’s immediate response is that success is a matter that is in the eye of the beholder. Then he said, “You have to be totally passionate about what you are doing.” Dr. Hinrich said he is passionate about the products and services his team provides. He dearly loves going to talk with advertisers. It is also an absolute pleasure for him to work in the field with customers, or to come to work in the morning and spending the day surrounded by people he enjoys being around. To young business leaders who aspire to become entrepreneurs in the current environment, he advises that they should be totally committed to their business. “24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You have to invest your heart in it. Be prepared to take the risks and make sacrifices.”
Following your dream
So how can we discover our passion? Dr. Hinrich suggested that we should really understand who we are, what gives us happiness, fulfilment or appreciation, and how we wish to participate in society. “You can never be someone you are not. People should be given the opportunity to understand themselves and find their own passion in life. You need to live your life to the fullest.”
Dr. Hinrich also mentioned that it is important to follow your dream. At the same time you must be responsible to yourself, to your family, and to the community you are living in. This sense of responsibility has been infused in his company. In the SARS outbreak in 2003 and during the 2008-2009 global economic crisis, Global Sources offered discounts to exporters throughout Asia, helping them maintain their competitiveness with low cost to overcome short-term difficulties. Such acts have impressed many suppliers, who then became loyal customers of his company. Dr. Hinrich and his team have adopted a business model that cares for all stakeholders. He is definitely an exemplary role model for present and future entrepreneurs to emulate.
Creating an impact
In 1971, Dr. Hinrich indicated in his company’s Statement of Purpose that “… Our purpose for being has much broader significance. We believe that the cause for world peace through freedom from want is advanced by the establishment of long-lasting and mutually beneficial trade relations between private businessmen in the East and West …”. Because of this long-held conviction, Dr. Hinrich has persevered with this mission through his business as well as philanthropy. As was his direction when starting out over 45 years ago, his company and his Foundation have made a profound impact and are of immense significance throughout the world.