Talent manager boosts digital transformation
Dr Bessie Chong is part of the senior management at Esquel Group, a global leader in the textile and clothing sector. Just two weeks after Covid-19 started to impact Hong Kong in January 2020, the group had used its expertise in cotton textiles to begin manufacturing reusable masks, helping to alleviate pressing demand and becoming the talk of the town.
Bessie’s job is to oversee talent training and development for the group, which has 35,000 employees in six countries and regions. She has been coordinating with and enhancing the group's digital transformation for the past six years.
She has assisted the implementation of Esquel's programming campaign that teaches employees to use simple coding to write mobile apps and helps them improve their critical thinking skills. Coronavirus-related travel restrictions have also led some senior marketing colleagues to become YouTubers, enabling them to successfully promote the company.
Bessie has been pleased to see Esquel take the initiative in using digital technology, as this has improved the group's operational efficiency.
She explained that undertaking a PhD at CityU had enabled her to take a macro view of industry prospects in her area of expertise as a leader. At the same time, her studies equipped her with the knowledge and skills needed in the human resources market, allowing her to nurture talents and assign people to roles suited to their abilities and values, as well as develop the necessary training.
By actively looking for new opportunities and utilising technology, we can find sustainable solutions to get us through this crisis. At the same time, you always need to remind yourself of your personal abilities and values, and keep moving forward.
Fostering harmony with pastels and hope
Ms Elsa Kwok has enjoyed a successful career in media and public relations for more than 20 years. She previously worked in the news department of two major local TV stations, with the news programmes she anchored winning top ratings. After leaving television, she set up her own consultancy, providing event planning, video production, corporate training, and other services.
In 2018, Elsa graduated from CityU’s Executive Master of Business programme (EMBA), going on to join the CityU EMBA Association Executive Committee, where she served as Chief Secretary. She is currently at AIA Company Limited, where she assists clients with asset allocation.
Cheerful and optimistic by nature, Elsa is always ready to meet a challenge. With the pandemic causing many promotional events to be cancelled or postponed, Elsa has made the most of the additional time to become a Japan Pastel Hope Art Association (JPHAA) Certified Instructor. This unique method of painting is a form of artistic healing through colour and art, which she hopes can help students regain a sense of harmony and joy.
While graduates may feel confused and concerned about their prospects in light of constant social and environmental changes, Elsa's message to today's generation is to seize every opportunity to better equip themselves to handle the future. Such opportunities include reading widely or studying online courses. She also suggests trying different types of work when young to build up life experience and deepen personal development.
Always be brave when you face changes or adversity at different stages of life, and accumulate diverse experience so you can continue to grow.
Applying RFID to fight the pandemic
Dr Anna Lau graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering in 2005. Five years later, she had completed her master's and doctorate, focusing her research on antenna systems. During her studies, she applied for a number of patents, including RFID applications for library systems.
Anna now works in Singapore for Laxcen Technology Limited, an electronics company headquartered in mainland. Its main business is the design and production of RFID tags and AI equipment. In the past, she often needed to travel for work, but once the pandemic began, she quickly adapted to the new normal of online meetings and remote working, as she also leads a Shenzhen-based team in antenna design research.
In the early days of Covid-19, domestic and international orders dropped significantly, according to Anna. More recently, the production line has faced a shortage of chips and other raw materials. To create new opportunities, she has encouraged her team to adopt innovative thinking.
This has seen the team adapt RFID technology-based robots to serve as touch-free, automatic disinfection equipment, with the robots later purchased by the Singapore authorities. Further initiatives have helped libraries and hospitals improve their smart bookshelf and medicine shelf capacity, respectively, enhancing disease prevention and control.
Thus, despite the difficulties, the pandemic has prompted many businesses, government departments and organisations to accelerate the introduction of fully automated equipment, Anna believes. This, in turn, is spurring smart city development.
Let’s meet the challenge of the pandemic with positive energy. Let's embrace the flexible, hard-working, and stick-to-it attitude of Hongkongers. Let’s look at ever-changing social trends with a clear mind and eyes so that we can adjust and adapt to the diverse challenges in our environment.
Strengthened and ready for the Olympics
Ms Grace Lau began learning karate, boxing, and taekwondo at the age of 11. After being selected for the Hong Kong team, she was admitted to the School of Creative Media through CityU's Student Athletes Admission Scheme and awarded a Dr Herman Hu Outstanding Sports Talents Scholarship.
At CityU, close support from Student Development Services helped Grace balance studying with her training and competition schedule. Meanwhile, under her leadership, the CityU women's karate team went on to break the monopoly that other universities had long held in intermural competitions.
In August 2018, the young athlete made her debut at the Asian Games. She won a bronze medal in the women's individual kata karate, becoming the first to gain a medal in the event in Hong Kong history. In November that year, she also won a bronze at the World Karate Championships, marking another first for Hong Kong. Since then, she has gone on to win many international competitions.
After the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed a year due to the pandemic, Grace decided to spend nine months’ training in the United States to improve her skills. Since returning to Hong Kong, she has been living behind “closed doors” at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, with her daily training routine – indeed whole life – carried out there. Even family and friends can only meet her through video conferencing!
Despite the difficulties, Grace feels this been a valuable learning period, from which she and her karate have significantly benefited.
While it is yet to be seen if I will be successful in the Olympics, I have adjusted my mentality. I train with a calm mind each day, and feel ready to face sudden changes with resilience.
Lessons in embracing the new normal
Mr Frederick Poon, who became head of St. Paul's Co-educational College in 2017, will never forget announcing the suspension of face-to-face instruction in early 2020 in response to the pandemic. Frederick then sought to start real-time online classes as quickly as possible, rapidly adapting the school's “bring your own computer” programme to enable teachers and students to collaborate virtually. This meant both could keep to the pre-Covid-19 class schedule, minimising the impact of the school’s physical closure on teaching and learning.
In his role as school leader, Frederick also decided to hold the annual fundraising walk, graduation ceremony, and anniversary celebration as live or pre-recorded events. The flexible and positive approach helped boost teachers’ and students’ morale and deepen the sense of belonging to the school, enabling the century-old institution to embrace the new normal.
Frederick has wanted to teach since he was a child. His excellence in English enabled him to pursue an undergraduate degree at CityU, and a year after graduating, he obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in preparation for a teaching career. The following year, he decided to return to CityU to undertake an MA.
Since then, Frederick has been able to pursue and achieve his lifelong goal of working in education and nurturing future leaders of society, making him highly appreciative of his foundational CityU training and experiences.
Despite Covid-19, St. Paul’s 2020 graduates maintained their diligence and enthusiasm, and achieved strong public examination results. CityU has also faced challenges from the pandemic, and I hope alumni will work together with their alma mater to tackle all future challenges with solidarity and positivity.
Antenna expert tunes in to challenge of Covid-19
Dr Kenneth Tong, who has worked in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University College London (UCL) since 2005, sees the testing times of Covid-19 as a valuable learning experience.
Kenneth is an eminent researcher and lecturer, undertaking leading antenna, microwave, and millimetre-wave technology research. When UK universities suspended in-person classes in 2020, he had to rapidly create new materials for teaching online. Thankfully, his students quickly adapted to the new mode.
He also hurriedly relocated certain equipment to his home before the campus was closed. In this way, he could continue to do basic lab work. To his relief, this meant his research did not have to completely shut down.
Kenneth has loved making electronic gadgets from childhood, and chose to join then young CityU as the University was energetic and dynamic. His doctoral thesis involved the application of broadband microstrip antennas in wireless communications, going on to be published in international academic journals and to have a significant impact on global mobile communications.
After graduation, Kenneth joined CityU’s Department of Electrical Engineering, and was a member of the team, led by Professor Luk Kwai-man and Professor Chan Chi-hou, that successfully developed low-cost broadband base antennas for 2G and 3G mobile communication systems.
He then moved to the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan, serving as an expert researcher in photonic information technology and millimetre-wave technology, before securing his post at UCL. At UCL, he has continued to broaden and deepen his teaching and research horizons, including extending his antenna research to medical applications.
The on-going pandemic has been a challenge, but it has also strengthened people’s resilience amidst adversity.