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Career Path

Finger on the pulse of the property market

by Carmen To

C K Lau, international director and head of valuation advisory services, Jones Lang LaSalle (Hong Kong)
Photo: Johnny Kwok

From his early days in the property business as a humble valuer, C K Lau has certainly climbed a long way. He is now an international director of Jones Lang LaSalle, the world's leading real estate services and investment management firm, as well as an active member of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors with a special interest in the development of the local property market

Along the way, Mr Lau has acquired an in-depth knowledge of various aspects of valuation, consultancy, sales, and investment in the real estate market. Importantly, he still retains the same interest and enthusiasm for the business that initially prompted him to complete a professional diploma in estate management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1986. That led logically to a first job as an assistant valuer.

"Back then, my day included inspecting properties with clients, writing valuation reports, and handling negotiations for sale and purchase," Mr Lau recalls. "Nowadays, my role is more in business development and strategic planning. I have to help my colleagues to identify opportunities in the market and to create business for the firm in Hong Kong and across the Asian region. It is vital to be completely up to date, so as to capture the opportunities as they arise."


It is vital to be completely up to date, so as to capture the opportunities as they arise

Mr Lau has seen enough to know there are ups and downs in the property market, as well as during a career. "Sometimes things go faster than you expect, sometimes slower than you want," he says. "I have found that being optimistic and ready to meet any challenge has helped me to move forward."

He adds that it is also essential to learn from mistakes, to take the time to be well prepared at work, and to make the most of any experience you have gained. "I have always tried to gain a better understanding of the economy, the property market and the underlying trends," he notes. "The same principles can be applied in other careers and to life in general."

Having benefited over the years from the company's emphasis on staff training and professional development, he remains grateful for this and for the other opportunities he has received.

Now that the mainland property market is booming, Mr Lau is confident that the sector is an excellent choice for young people starting out on their career. "More professionals will be needed in such areas as land development, property management, consultancy, sales and leasing, and other property-related services," he explains. "There will also be openings for investment sales, and asset and fund management opportunities."

Professional distinction

  • Member of the Hong Kong Securities and Future Commission taskforce on overseas investments in real estate investment trusts
  • Convenor of the Government Practice and Local Affairs Panel of the General Practice Divisional Council of the HKIS since 2001
  • Member of the General Practice Divisional Council of the HKIS since 1994
  • Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors since 1992
  • Elected as Professional Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1991
  • Graduated from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a professional diploma in estate management in 1986

China Opportunities

Mr Lau is leading and directing Asia-based valuation advisory business for the company. He is also responsible for the strategic planning for the Guangzhou office and the further development of projects in the Pearl River Delta area. "The speed and direction of China's economic development looks good," he says. "A lot of foreign companies are pouring cash into the property market and mainland businesses are looking for overseas partners who want to invest." He now spends on average 20 per cent of his business time in China. "It is a good opportunity to learn new things about the business and about China," he says.


 

Taken from Career Times 27 October 2006, p. B18

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