At just 27 years of age, serial entrepreneur Sabrina Ho has already had a career that would be the envy of many people twice her age: the eldest daughter of a prominent Macau gaming family, the Hong Kong-born, Macau-based Ho leads some of the region’s most ambitious efforts to combine business with society and culture.
She is director and CEO of Poly Auction Macau Ltd, which she founded in 2015 in association with Poly Auction Hong Kong to help develop Macau as an art hub. Its inaugural art fair in January last year brought together traditional masterpieces and the work of 60 young Chinese artists, displayed in 60 guest rooms at Macau’s Regency Hotel – which she owns, restored and turned into a hip contemporary locus for regional art and cultural enthusiasts, renaming it the Regency Art Hotel. Following on the success of her first art event there last year, Ho told me she plans to “create a kind of Art Basel around the hotel.” That is, an artistic locus for the region’s younger generation where they can view and hopefully purchase locally created contemporary art.
To further consolidate her passionate interests in fashion, art and hospitality, Ho last year launched Chiu Yeng Culture Ltd. to tie it all together, promoting Macau’s artistic and cultural developments.
On November 9, she achieved another milestone, becoming the youngest person to sign a strategic partnership agreement in Paris with outgoing UNESCO Director Irina Bokova to empower young men and women around the world through the organization’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity. Since 2007 this fund has supported the emergence of dynamic cultural industries in developing countries. Ho’s partnership – slated to begin next year – will sponsor IFCD projects that build the entrepreneurial skills of young artists and creative workers through education and training, start-up incubators and access to markets which can then provide sustainable employment.
“Partnership Is The New Leadership”
“I firmly believe partnership is the new leadership, and believe in global education,” Ho told me. “And having a young person onboard UNESCO’s project will broaden the ability to provide education, equality and employment.”
UNESCO’s director-general called Ho’s partnership a “big step forward,” pointing out that “the cultural and creative industries employ more young people than any other sector. Supporting young artists and cultural entrepreneurs is one of the best investments we can make, for societies and for our future.”
But it’s not all about high ideals and long-term vision. Sabrina Ho has some good, tough business instincts, according to this anecdote reported by the Hong Kong Tattler last November, following Ho’s debutante party at Queen Charlotte’s Ball in London that season: “When she was just 18 and living in England, Ho told her parents they should buy the rights to Ladurée in Hong Kong and China. Business meetings ensued but the deal was never signed because her mother wasn’t convinced macarons would be popular in Asia, and soon another buyer stepped in. ‘I’m glad that happened because I think it made my parents take me more seriously,’ she says. ‘And it made me trust my instincts.’”
Ho has worked out her life plan carefully, and her agenda includes more than work. “I have to ‘make it’ by the time I’m 35,” she told me, “ and that’s just eight years from now, so I have a lot of work to do.” Why the rush? “Because,” she says, “when I’m 35 I want to be settling down and having a family and I want to be able to spend my time with my children.”
This article originally appeared on Forbes.