How does it feel to be one of this year’s winners of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Selection?
I feel honoured to receive the award for civil and community service, and to be recognized for what I have done so far for the community, in particular for the youth. In the past eight years, I have been focused on supporting entrepreneurs along their business journey. I established a non-profit organization called The Hong Kong General Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs in 2015, and since then we have helped over a thousand start-ups through organizing regular training and networking events, and most recently in connecting them with opportunities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). At the start, I gathered a group of entrepreneurs who were committed and willing to help society, but with limited resources. Then in 2020, we successfully obtained HK$10 million funding from the Hong Kong government, which we have used to help entrepreneurs aged 18 to 40 to set up their businesses in the GBA. Aside from this, I set up a scholarship fund in 2016 to recognize outstanding students at my alma mater, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and to help them to continue their studies. My experience growing up in Temple Street, where why parents worked tirelessly as hawkers, has been a big influence behind my determination to help underprivileged young people in our community. Many people would have the biased view that kids who worked or lived in that street would be unsuccessful in the future. Another thing that inspired me was moving from an unknown primary school to a famous secondary school, La Salle College. I saw the class differences, and couldn’t help compare myself with others. I decided that when I grow up and if I am able to, I would try to help kids like me. Helping young people at an earlier stage so that they may have a better future means a lot to me.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role as Chief Executive Officer of Kam Kee Holdings Limited?
The most rewarding is seeing my customers and my employees smile. My job is to manage people, and manage my customers’ and employees’ expectations. But at the same time, this is the most challenging part of my role. If one employee has a comment or a question for me, I need to respond to all of my 1,500 employees. I remember three years ago when it was time for performance appraisals, I was in my room in the office the whole day talking to three managers for two to three hours each. Talking to people is a typical part of my life. Managing people is an art as you need to balance the interests of everyone. So I would say people management is the most challenging part of being a CEO, and if you manage them well, it’s the most rewarding part.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your entrepreneurial journey?
One thing I have learned is the importance of positive thinking when running your own business. If you are an employee facing issues, you can get support from your senior, your peers and the whole company. But entrepreneurs need to solve problems themselves. Business owners today face many challenges, and that was particularly the case for those in the food and beverage sector like me during the pandemic, who were affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. We also face issues such as a labour shortage and high labour costs, so entrepreneurs need to think positively to keep your mind focused on finding solutions to problems and to get through these hurdles. Another lesson is that entrepreneurs would benefit from having a basic understanding of both accounting and law. I’ve met many entrepreneurs who know that they are earning or losing money, but they don’t know the reasons because they don’t understand the figures, meaning they don’t understand their business well. Also in business, it’s common to face different legal issues, whether it’s a commercial deal or an employment contract. But if your company is in its early stage, it’s likely you don’t have the resources to hire a legal professional. A basic understanding of law would equip young entrepreneurs with the legal sense they need to properly run their business.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
I chose to be a CPA after graduating because having my own business has long been my dream, and I knew that accounting is the only language in the commercial world. To understand how your company is performing, you need to understand profit and loss, and know how to read the accounts and the figures – this is key. I could honestly see the difference between me and entrepreneurs who didn’t have accounting experience. They might be very knowledgeable about their industry, but in terms of management or running a business, I would say I would have an advantage.
How has the Qualification Programme (QP) and your experience as a Big Four auditor helped you in your career so far?
After I completed the QP, I was very well equipped with the necessary and comprehensive knowledge on areas such as corporate finance, taxation, auditing, and accounting. This is all very essential knowledge in the business world. Also, my experience at a Big Four gave me the fundamental skills needed for me to be a CEO today. I worked at a firm for around five years, and along the way I had the experience of being a junior who needs to be a good listener and team player. I then become a senior who had to lead a team of subordinates, and then I was in charge of doing the budgeting for the team. Lastly, I learned how to become a better trainer for the juniors. I refer back to all of these experiences when running my own company today.