Renee Hartmann and Sage Brennan have always been a little bit ahead of their time when it comes to China. Brennan first went to China in 1987 as a student who had become interested in all things Chinese. He studied the language, became fluent, and soaked in Chinese life and culture at a time when very few foreigners were even thinking about China beyond the term Red China—he listened, learned, and laid the foundation for what would become his life's work.
Hartmann began her career in finance and investor relations. She first entered China's business world and learned the ropes by advising Chinese companies seeking to go public on overseas stock markets. In 1999, she traveled to China to advise one such client on its plans to list on NASDAQ. During a meeting, the company's inside counsel asked, “We have heard of a term called insider trading, is this something we should know or be concerned about?”
After that experience, Hartmann saw an urgent need and opportunity for someone with her expertise in China. She moved to China in 2000, went to work for advertising and public relations giant Ogilvy and Mather, and started the first investor-relations practice in Mainland China.
As she was building Ogilvy's investor relations practice, Brennan was realizing the dream of his youth—living in China, where he was advising foreign companies on investments, market strategy, and technology projects with the leading technology consulting firm in Beijing, BDA China. ...