Alex Bent was born and raised in Hong Kong and is half Australian and half British. He has a BA in Business and Chinese from Durham University in the UK and attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong before that. After graduating, Alex joined John Swire & Sons working for them in the USA, Hong Kong and Mainland China. In 2004, Alex left his corporate job to start on an entrepreneurial adventure before founding District15 with his business partner in 2005. Alex and his business partner are also active on the start up scene in Hong Kong; having invested in a number of Hong Kong based startups.
[Watch the full video (16 mins) here]
What does the term TCK mean to you?
I didn’t really know about this term until about 5 or 6 years ago and it really helped me to understand myself- not to feel misunderstood or alone. I started to realise that there are a group of people like me and they understood a bit about who I was and where I was from.
Even though I am meant to be from the UK or Australia, I feel no patriotism or nationality. I’m kind of a global nomad and I’m really proud of that, it’s given me more of an international view and made me more accepting of other people’s views.
Do you identify as being a TCK (why/why not)?
Yes, I do have an affinity to being a TCK. TCKs usually have to do a lot of explaining on who they are to people without international backgrounds so it’s helpful to have an identity. However I also kind of shy away a bit from labels, especially as some TCKs have a false sense of superiority – being a TCK doesn’t mean you can bring peace on earth… you have to maintain an open outlook.
Do TCKs share a common set of values and beliefs?
Yes I think so on the whole, TCKs have grown up without a fixed identity or nationalism so you do tend to understand each other. We are often a minority in the country we have grown up in but also don’t feel an affinity to what people would say might are our ‘home countries’. Often being the minority allows TCKs to understand others people who are also minorities, ultimately that helps with bridging gaps.
What is the TCK identity?
To me, the TCK identity is being a global citizen, a global nomad and not constrained by patriotic and nationalistic beliefs and ideas. It’s being open to anything, being open to change.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 10 years and I really believe one of the things that has allowed me to battle through and come out OK is that I always had to deal with change when I was younger – friends leaving, people coming and going, going back to my mother countries and trying to explain myself – who I was, where I was from… I think those are all good attributes to being an entrepreneur – you have to deal with what comes your way, fight through it and enjoy change.
How can TCKs/CCKs better externalise their unique experiences and characteristics with the world?
I think just by doing… I’ve found that putting people in a situation where they just have to get along really helps to break down barriers and I want to create those dynamics for different people. I love investing in different companies, bringing entrepreneurs together. I’m trying to do what I can to externalise my experiences by bringing people with different ideas together and trying to get them to understand and learn from each other.
For TCKs trying to establish their identities – just go with it! I’m very proud of being a global citizen; I think we are going to be the majority of people in the future. I see so many kids now with a melting pot of different nationalities… the world is getting smaller. Being a TCK is a gift, something to celebrate and something to use. Use your experiences to have an impact on the world. Open people’s eyes and embrace it.
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