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Career Path

Developing a broad perspective

by Cho Ka-yan

Rex Ching, product development manager, research and development department
CASCADE Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

For many employees, IT skills are a necessary part of everyday office functioning and as a result, acquired on a needs basis. However, for certain people, working with technology that constantly pushes the boundaries of current IT capabilities is a pre-requisite for a satisfying and exciting career.

As manager responsible for training and developing new recruits at CASCADE and PCCW, Rex Ching is the product development manager from the research and development department of CASCADE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of telecommunications giant PCCW. At an exciting junction in his career, Mr Ching was fortunate enough to be a pioneering developer of Hong Kong's internet protocol TV (IPTV), which continues to go from strength to strength.

NOW TV's platform currently has more than 882,000 customers and Mr Ching notes that building the massive infrastructure to support the initiative was tremendously rewarding, "Constructing something from scratch and seeing it used by thousands of people brings a great sense of achievement," he adds.

Besides drafting broadband platform designs that pipe entertainment directly into people's living rooms, Mr Ching also spends a significant part of his working day analysing the labyrinth of industry news.

New and noted

Regarding the rapid rate of change in the IT industry and the constant introduction of upgraded products and services, Mr Ching remains cautious, "IPTV is still a relatively young sector. There are also many other developments coming to fruition, so it is crucial we keep abreast of worldwide competition," he reveals.

Although the technical nature of the job can at times be challenging, Mr Ching explains that entry requirements for new recruits are not that stringent. "As long as you have a professional engineering background, a passion for the position, a demonstrable hardworking attitude and the willingness to learn, you will succeed," Mr Ching advises.

IPTV was an alien form of technology to Mr Ching when he began the project 10 years ago. "There was no one else doing the same business here in Hong Kong." Mr Ching recalls.

Trained as an electrical engineer at the University of Hong Kong, Mr Ching's first brush with broadband technologies was both overwhelming and discouraging, "When I first joined, I just wanted to leave right away," Mr Ching discloses. "I was tasked with building the world's largest commercial deployment of an IPTV platform and I didn't know what to do. The technological demands of the project stretched beyond the content of my university studies."


"If you don't understand something, ask"

However, after successive training sessions and hard work, Mr Ching began to grasp his new role. Indeed, within three months Mr Ching was au fait with the requisite technology and already receiving positive reviews for his first project. From then on, IPTV played a more significant role in Mr Ching's professional life.

Export channels

With dedication and a growing passion for multimedia, Mr Ching moved up the ranks quickly. Within the past 10 years, he has reached managerial level. The export of Hong Kong's IPTV platform also began in regions beyond the border, like Thailand.

He notes that IPTV has become an increasingly sought-after technology in Southeast Asia and mainland China. "There is a lot of potential in this field and most of the provinces in China are considering IPTV already," Mr Ching adds.

Regarding exposure, cultural immersion is invaluable for graduates seeking a rewarding and challenging career, according to Mr Ching. Also, as the field further expands, the need for talent is increasing, creating numerous opportunities for upward mobility.

Living by the motto that "hard work has merits", Mr Ching's advice to people looking to join the industry is to persevere in the face of challenge and remain tenacious. "If you don't understand something, ask. There are always people around to help and CASCADE provides ample training," Mr Ching says.

Predicting the future, Mr Ching explains that the underlying core technology in IPTV can be applied to other forms of technology. "Only around 30 per cent of the technology changes when you switch multimedia device, so once you have a thorough understanding of the essence of IPTV, you can apply that knowledge across many devices," he notes.

Beyond the workplace, Mr Ching's commercial acumen is incredibly useful when considering the relative merits of electronic devices. It helps when analysing digital cameras and high-end audio sets. "There are many similarities between these devices, but when you know how technology works, seeing beyond the packaging towards the real functions of these gadgets is a breeze," Mr Ching says.


 

Taken from Career Times 30 May 2008, p. B16

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