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Career Path

People skills paramount

by Grace Chan

Kelvin Yeung, general manager
enterprise servers, storage and networking
Hewlett-Packard HK SAR Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan
When Kelvin Yeung cut his teeth in the burgeoning information technology industry in the 1980s, he did not know that he would in time be involved in establishing a number of electronic platforms that today form an integrated part of the Hong Kong daily life.

"Although what I did involve primarily something intangible, over the years I've played a part in prompting the development of the e-payment gateway, as well as the e-banking and stock-trading systems," recalls Mr Yeung, who embarked on his career when the first generation of personal computers was introduced to the consumer market.

"I'm proud to have worked on these technology advances, which have been the most rewarding aspects of my career because I can see my contribution to society," he adds.
Currently general manager, enterprise servers, storage and networking, Hewlett-Packard HK SAR Limited, Mr Yeung says his career choice was not planned, but turned out to be a fulfilling one.

Immediately after graduation with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Hong Kong, he worked as a graduate trainee for Digital Equipment Hong Kong, a US-based supplier of networked computer systems, software and services. "I was initially responsible for supporting the sales team with programme maintenance and special project pricing," he says. "Instead of just working independently as a technical staff member, I always enjoyed interacting with people."

For this reason, he shifted from a supporting role two years later to sales and customer relationship management, serving enterprise businesses and public sector customers, and started to move up the ranks.

"Experience from serving the government customers gave me a solid foundation in the standard and stringent procedures of tendering public contracts," Mr Yeung points out. "It also provided me with an edge."

Stepping up

Opportunity came knocking again when Compaq Computer, once the world's largest supplier of personal computing systems, acquired Digital Equipment in 1998 and Mr Yeung was promoted to the position of sales manager as the company was keen to grow its public sector business in Hong Kong. It was not until Compaq merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002 that he extended his client reach to the finance and banking sectors.

In 2008, he assumed the position of sales director, overseeing HP's technology solutions group in Hong Kong. He was charged with managing the sales teams in Hong Kong and Macau. Within a year, he moved into his current position, leading the company's enterprise servers, storage and networking business unit in Hong Kong and Macau with prime responsibilities towards the effective management of the direct and channel sales teams, product management, presales and marketing functions.

While people generally view engineering professionals are technical experts who tend to shy away from the limelight, Mr Yeung has strong interpersonal communication skills, which he sees as important to people in the technology-based profession.

"One of my main roles is to maintain a trusting relationship with clients and business partners. IT solutions companies require more than technical knowledge to stay ahead of the game. True success comes from integrating cutting-edge IT solutions that help our clients to achieve business objectives but then again a trusting professional relationship always helps."

Since such relationships cannot develop overnight, Mr Yeung has always been committed to putting his customers first. "My team and I once stayed at a client's office to handle troubleshooting and system check-ups on Christmas Eve. It took us a few evenings in a row to complete the testing," he says.

Above all, trusting bonds are built on customer satisfaction, Mr Yeung stresses. "I've known many of my clients for decades and we've become friends and we play golf together on weekends. Some of them even invite me to family gatherings."

Essential skills

Mr Yeung's working day usually lasts 12 full hours, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning with internal meetings. His role also involves a fair amount of interaction with clients and business partners.

"My current job carries additional people management responsibilities, including placing people in the right positions and constantly being on the lookout for successors," says Mr Yeung.

He views a positive mindset, desire to learn and diligent attitude as essential personal attributes of a competent IT professional. "Although I no longer write programmes, I keep abreast of the latest industry trends and also enjoy reading management books to hone my business acumen," he notes.

Considering the rapidly changing IT landscape, young talent should keep learning and developing their ability in order to anticipate change. They should also be flexible to adapt to change, he advises.

"This profession is all about teamwork and integrating advanced systems to drive business outcomes," he emphasises. "A genuine passion is a must, but strong people skills and sound business knowledge can help aspiring young newcomers to go the extra mile."

Taken from Career Times 15 October 2010, B12

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