On 14 September 200 guests gathered in Hong Kong to meet President Alice Gast and hear eminent alumni debate global challenges.
In her speech, Professor Gast said: “It is wonderful to be in Hong Kong with so many dear friends and alumni. It has been a pleasure to get to know you and to hear about your great successes and your strong affection for Imperial. I would like to thank our distinguished panellists. It is wonderful to see such successful alumni in so many fields.” President Gast also outlined the recently published College Strategy and its four themes: foundations, people, partners, and enablers.
The event featured a panel discussion with alumni and Imperial’s Professor David Klug, who together explored some of the challenges and opportunities presented by the fast-changing global financial, engineering, scientific and research sectors.
The panel was led by Professor Paul Cheung (BEng ACGI Electrical Engineering 1973, PhD DIC Electrical Engineering 1978), Associate Vice-President (Research) and Director of Technology Transfer at the University of Hong Kong.
Professor Cheung was joined by Professor David Klug from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial, and alumni Cheuk Wan Fan (MBA DIC 2000), Dr Robin Sham (PhD DIC Civil Engineering 1989) and Vincent So (BEng ACGI Mechanical Engineering 1991, MBA DIC 1994).
During the discussion, Ms Fan, a senior investment strategist, highlighted the significant operational challenges presented by changes in investor behaviour. She also spoke about the disruptive effect of new rivals in the financial sector, driven by digital technologies and a demand for new customer delivery models.
Dr Sham, Global Long Span and Specialty Bridges Director of AECOM, suggested that one of the ways to meet the challenges in his sector was to encourage individuals to take ownership of their work, allowing them to reinvent the rules of the game. Professor Klug picked up on this point by noting that one of his challenges was to pay attention to career progression across the teams that he works with, which for him was complicated by the fact that many of the teams he brings together come from different backgrounds, and thus have different cultures and expectations of career progression.
Looking to the Asian region in particular, Mr So, Chief Investment Officer of Swan Capital Management, noted that the ‘Asia story’ had likely come to a pause as China, the second largest economy in the world, was slowing down and a period of rebalancing was already underway.
Offering words of wisdom to the crowd, which included current students and offer holders, as well as their parents, Professor Klug encouraged the young members of the audience to have confidence in their creativity, and those more experienced to be supportive of them. Dr Sham suggested that we should perceive leadership and management as being akin to a game of tennis, where the most important element was to anticipate where the ball might drop and to take action before it drops.
Ms Fan suggested that the group should focus on the global interconnectivity which defines our era, while Mr So encouraged the students to make the most of their time at the College by not only working hard on their academic studies but also participating in extracurricular activities in order to widen their exposures and develop their career aspirations.
Nicola Pogson, Director of Alumni Relations, said: “There are certain words I keep hearing here in Hong Kong with regard to the connections within the Imperial alumni community: pride, trust, friendship, loyalty. There’s a saying - all boats rise with the tide. I really believe that our alumni network here in Hong Kong and Imperial can continue to rise together, and this should encourage us to continue our excellent tradition of working together.”
Professor Cheung closed the panel discussion with the words, “The only thing that is permanent is change. Einstein once said that if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. I would like to update his words for our times; if you always do what you always did, then most likely you couldn’t even get what you’ve already got!”
Imperial has around 3,000 contactable alumni in Hong Kong, making it one of the largest populations outside of the UK, and the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong provided significant support for the event, as did a number of volunteers from the student community.
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) available under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
Leave a comment
Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.