Sixty Second Interview - Paul Hopper, HOP Vietnamese

Head Shot Of Paul Hopper Wide

31 year old ex-City worker, Paul Hopper - formally at Investec - is the founder of HOP Vietnamese.

Head Shot Of Paul Hopper

He is the subject of our latest 60 second interview:

1. How long have you been in the industry and what is your current job title ?

I grew up in the food industry in my parent's corporate hospitality business. Back then I was stirring soup and washing dishes and doing all the other wonderful jobs in a commercial kitchen.

After university I did a 6 year stint as an investment banker working in Mergers & Acquisitions before leaving it all behind in search of something new. Fast forward two years and extensive travels across Asia and I'm now the Founder/MD of HOP - my very own quick-service Vietnamese concept for busy office workers.

2. Did you have a mentor, if so who ?

Not exactly....but I do have a great team of inspirational people around me who have helped me along this journey including two very experienced non-exec directors who sit on HOP's board. Monique Borst is my guide on all things HR, marketing and PR. We call her Human WD40 as she always finds a way to make things run smoothly - be it through her extensive network of contacts or her wealth of experience in the hospitality industry. Josh Wyse is my eyes and ears on operations and property and brings over 20 years of food hospitality experience to the table. Both of these people have been instrumental in successfully getting HOP to market.

3. Are you by nature an optimist or a pessimist ?

Tricky one. I do have a genuine belief that things will always work out if you persist and get back up each time you stumble. However, I'm a natural worrier and tend to prepare for the worst case scenario. I guess that makes me a pessimist, or maybe just a realistb? Anyway - it definitely makes me (and HOP) more prepared for bumps in the road, which is only be a good thing.

4. Which business leader do you most admire and why ?

I have a lot of respect for anyone who has ever opened a new concept in a market where they have little (or no) experience and look to disrupt that market. I think Richard Branson is inspirational in this respect having entered lots of different markets with the Virgin Group and shaken them up.

5. What’s the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date ?

'Always observe the 80% rule'. This rule was given to me by one of my investors and I now live by it. It basically means I always try to operate at 80% mental/physical capacity. Any more is potentially going to lead to over stressing, exhaustion and leaves no time for personal space or reflection. If you want to build something with longevity, you need to make sure you're still capable and clear headed in the future. Anything less than 80% and you're not working hard enough.

6. What’s your favourite business quotation and life motto ?

My favourite quote from a business leader is Steve Jobs' speech 'Stay Hungry; Stay Foolish'. I've always tried to live my life this way and I've adopted a similar philosophy with HOP. We tell our staff to be 'fearless' in everything they do from wanting to learn new skills, taking on new responsibilities and approaching customers to tell them about our offer.

7. What’s the best business book you have ever read ?

'How to win friends and influence people'. A classic.



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