Working in the construction industry is physically and intellectually demanding, particularly when companies compete fiercely for projects.
"People who welcome change and new experiences will enjoy working in this sector. The profession is known to be tough, but we enjoy building homes and creating infrastructure for the community we live in," says Peter Kwan, general manager (compliance), Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co Ltd. "It's an interesting industry. We are always teaming up with different professionals and every day is a new adventure."
After completing Form Six in 1974, Mr Kwan obtained a diploma from the Morrison Hill Technical Institute. He then worked for two years as a foreman, but after careful contemplation about his future, he went to the UK in 1976 to embark on a four-year degree programme in building management. At the time, none of the local universities offered equivalent qualifications.
"I chose to leave my site-supervision job because that would not have taken me beyond a site agent position and I wanted to shift gear to more managerial roles. The programme alternated six months of studies with six months of hands-on training, equipping me with theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills, which have been useful for my project-managing positions throughout the years," Mr Kwan explains.
In a business with generally low profit margins, outstanding performance is key to beat the competition. To ensure high industry standards when it comes to the major concerns of quality, safety and environmental protection, Mr Kwan oversees compliance with relevant policies.
In his additional capacity as managing director of Chun Wo Elegant Decoration Engineering Co Ltd, another member of the Chun Wo Group, Mr Kwan plays a major role drawing up strategy and managing projects for the company.
The group's dedication to its core values has been widely recognised. In 2005, it won the Hong Kong Management Association Quality Awards bronze award for quality management, among other accolades. It has received merit awards and certificates from numerous official organisations, including the Hong Kong Construction Association, for its contribution in the area of occupational safety and environmental protection.
In 2003, Chun Wo was honoured with the Zhan Tian You Civil Engineering Award from the China Civil Engineering Society, for its construction of the Hung Hom bypass and Princess Margaret Road link project.
According to Mr Kwan, a major factor contributing to the group's solid foundation was the foresight of its founder, Pang Kam-chun. Since the establishment of the conglomerate nearly 40 years ago, it has pursued business diversification, extending its core construction service to civil engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, property development and more. The group has also explored the mainland, Macau, Taiwan and Vietnam for broader business opportunities.
Mr Kwan emphasises that every staff member contributes to the company's success. "People are our most valuable assets. Along with our investment in sophisticated equipment and technology, we also dedicate a lot of resources to fostering talent," he remarks.
Staff development programmes include a sponsoring scheme for staff to encourage continuous personal growth and a range of in-house training courses. Chun Wo has also joined the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers' Scheme A training programme to provide graduate engineers with learning opportunities through real-life application of academic know-how. An elite training programme is rigorously designed to guide young engineers and quantity surveyors towards second-tier management positions.
Stress to strength
To promote a group-wide work-life balance, Chun Wo regularly organises recreational activities such as football, basketball, badminton and other sports events, as well as fun days and themed outings.
"Working in this field is rather tough," Mr Kwan concedes. "We usually work from 8am to 6pm, but overtime is often required. On Sunday mornings, I tend to visit sites while my family waits for me in the car. Afterwards, I take them to a restaurant for lunch. Apart from spending time with my family, I combat stress by taking relaxing hikes and doing volunteer work."
As leader of the group's volunteer team, Mr Kwan believes that charitable activities impact not only on those in need, but also on the team participants. "There are about 60 active members on the team, but all staff can sign up for volunteering tasks, which are good for the soul," he adds.
The volunteering team spent several weekends on indoor slip-prevention projects for elderly villagers in Tai Po. Apart from contributing time and effort, Chun Wo also donated the construction materials needed for the work.