Jennifer Jett
8 July 2024
Lukas Messmer
9 July 2024

Fion Li

High-flying finance journalist reflects on ‘Hermione’ days at JMSC

Christmas gathering at Professor Ying Chan’s apartment in 2004

She thinks fast. She talks fast. Fion Li (BJ 2007), who recently stepped down as the leader of Bloomberg’s Asia Deals team, believes “Every second counts.”

A proud graduate of JMSC’s inaugural Bachelor of Journalism class, Fion joined the groundbreaking programme in 2004 that required students to take a second major to ensure students acquire a broad-based liberal arts education.

Fion, who double majored in journalism and criminal justice, was part of the “Magic 20” — the cohort of the first 20 students admitted to the BJ programme. They were pioneers in every sense of the word: studying the innovative curriculum, taking part in internships, and overseas exchange studies at top universities.

For Fion, spending a year at the University of Maryland with her fellow BJ student Brandy Cheng was both challenging and life-transforming. The school’s assistant dean initially doubted they spoke good enough English and discouraged them from enrolling in the journalism programme. But the two fought his recommendation and could take several journalism courses, including a live reporting class that would fail a student’s assignment if they made one single spelling mistake.

When she returned to HKU, Fion spent a frantic final year catching up on courses while remaining active at St John’s College, her residential hall. “My life was almost like Hermione in ‘Harry Potter,’” quipped Fion, who recently served as an MC at St John’s 111th anniversary celebration.

Fion had internships at both Chinese-language newspapers, like Wen Wei Pao and Sing Tao Daily, and English-language dailies, such as the South China Morning Post and The Standard. She remembered when her story became front page news at Sing Tao Daily. “Hey, Mom, I made the front page on my first day,” the proud rookie reporter told her mother.

Fion standing outside her dormitory Dorchester Hall at the University of Maryland

Fion at an anti-war protest at Washington DC in 2005

After a stint as a correspondent at Reuters, Fion joined Bloomberg in 2011 as a reporter. Five years later, at the age of 31, she was promoted to Hong Kong bureau chief, becoming one of the youngest bureau chiefs in the company’s history. “I was very nervous,” said Fion. “I worked with over 100 people in Bloomberg, and I was the first bureau chief who is a native Cantonese speaker.”

She was grateful to be at the helm during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong. She recalled working around the clock and having no weekends off for nearly six months.

As a mother of a two-year-old boy, Fion will take on a new challenge when she moves to London to work at Bloomberg’s Europe headquarters this year. 

Her advice to the students and new graduates of JMSC? “When opportunities present themselves, do embrace them,” she said. “No one can be 100% ready for a new challenge, but one can be 100% committed to learn and grow. Stay curious and be humble — the world is looking for explorers like you.”