Chinese tech giant’s global PR director is still a journalist at heart

Lydia Guo (MJ 2010), director of global communications at Tencent, splits her time between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where the Chinese tech giant is headquartered. 

She oversees media relations, branding and communications for Tencent’s fintech division, which includes WeChat Pay, the massively popular app that has over a billion users globally. 

Her work is “way beyond PR,” Lydia said, as she needs to work closely with the product development team. 

Foreign visitors often find it very challenging to get around China, a country that has been nearly cashless for many years, without a digital mobile wallet like WeChat Pay.

“Currently we are working on improving the digital payment experience for international travelers to China,” Lydia said. “I was able to be involved in the whole project from the beginning, gave suggestions and user feedback to push it forward.” 

Lydia at the 2022 Singapore Fintech Festival

Lydia at the 2023 Hong Kong Fintech Week

Lydia started as a journalist. For four years, she worked as a producer and anchor for a TV station in Haikou, the capital of China’s Hainan province, where she found “the work ethic was disappointing.” 

When her family decided to move to Hong Kong in 2007, she jumped at the opportunity to study at the JMSC. “I would like to learn what real professional journalism is,” she said. 

Lydia chose to study part-time, which allowed her to take care of her newborn son while pursuing her master’s degree. One of her favourite subjects was financial journalism class, which not only “gave us hands-on knowledge” but also opened up job opportunities. 

In 2009, while studying at the JMSC, she began working as a part-time reporter at China Business News (CBN), a Chinese financial and business newspaper. Upon graduating, she joined them full time — and won the Journalist of the Year – Investment award for the Chinese category from the State Street Institutional Press Awards, Asia Pacific.

Lydia also did freelance writing for the Financial Timesbeyondbrics column, which focused on the emerging markets, including China. In September 2014, she became a reporter for Ignites Asia, a Financial Times online news service on the asset management industry in the region.

After a year, she moved to corporate communications, taking up a role at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). She has been with Tencent since 2020. 

Her experience as a reporter is still relevant to her work in the corporate world. “My experience as a reporter helps me to understand what’s meaningful and newsworthy, how to tell a story from a corporate angle while also making it appealing,” Lydia said.

Being a journalist is not just a job or profession,” she added. “Curiosity and critical thinking will become a lifelong habit, no matter if you are a journalist, a PR, an analyst, or any profession you choose in your later career path. Once a journalist, always a journalist.”

Lydia interviewed by HKIBC in April 2019