Imagine a person working with the same organization for 22
years. No, I am not talking of times when your father was
on the starting blocks of his career. This is about today,
a new, nascent millennium. At a time when working with the
same company for two years raises eyebrows, it is definitely
refreshing (and intriguing, one may add) to come across someone
who says, "My philosophy is that if you continue in one
place long enough, you will prevail," and actually means
Meet Mr. Gary Wai Kwok Cheung, Chief Executive, Hong Kong
Securities Institute (HKSI) and former Executive Director,
Sun Hung Kai & Co, Ltd. (SHK). Mr. Cheung's appointment
to the top echelon of HKSI today is the direct outcome of
more than two decades of dedication and hard work he put in
during his tenure with SHK.
Starting with SHK as an executive trainee in 1980, in the
back office processing deal documents, he voluntarily spent
time in the dealing room after work until midnight, learning
the business and generally helping out. After a year of such
learning, he asked to be transferred to the dealing room.
"That experience is enough for you to start work in a
dealing room. The job satisfaction is immense, since in the
dealing room, you come to know your profit and loss position
real time," says Mr. Cheung. The back office provides
an understanding of the nitty-gritty of the business, the
dealing room, a sense of accomplishment.
"...one should never oppose or obstruct anyone
else moving up the ladder. I had ample faith in
delegating work to people I trusted"
After dealing for two years, Mr. Cheung went to Zurich for
training on the bullion broking business for six weeks. In
1982, he was sent over to London to develop the business,
and stayed there till 1984. "This overseas stint was
used to develop the forex business for SHK, since I had many
friends there. Later, when I came back to Hong Kong in 1984,
it was easy for them to do business through SHK as they knew
I was dealing with them," says Mr. Cheung.
Back in Hong Kong as a Chief Dealer, Mr. Cheung assumed charge
of the trading department. And in just the first six years
of his career (1986), Mr Cheung was designated as Divisional
Director and governing the trading, commodities, bullion,
forex and equity businesses of his company - almost the entire
gamut of finance. "This might sound very broad-based,
but the underlying sets of economic and financial data is
pretty much similar for all products under each category.
Hence, an adept dealer should be able and ready to tackle
these and implement them in various products," says Mr
Cheung. "The only thing stopping growth in this line
is your aptitude," he emphasizes.
In 1996, he progressed to becoming the Director of Sun Hung
Kai Securities Limited and for the Fund Management business
too. "Your career path in this industry depends on your
outlook. I was always an extremely profitable employee. To
succeed in this profession, you need to continually make money
for the business. But more important, at every level, one
should never oppose or obstruct anyone else moving up the
ladder. I had ample faith in delegating work to people I trusted.
Every manager should allow those under him or her to progress,
because unless you can create a person to take your slot,
you cannot go ahead," Mr. Cheung says.
Nevertheless, he also adds that there could be situations
in everybody's career where progress depends on being in the
right place at the right time. At different points in time,
the departure of senior staff also aided Mr. Cheung's career
moves. But the point to note is that one should work towards
being ready or so to say, being the "chosen one"
to take on broader portfolios when opportunity permits.
Before joining HKSI, Mr. Cheung was Executive Director of
SHK for about four years and a member on the boards of another
20 odd companies, all under the SHK umbrella. The prime criteria
for success once you reach the top are that same as that you
had when you started. "Hard work and an honest mind are
the two crucial ingredients required for success at any stage
of your career," says Mr. Cheung. That's simple living,
"Hong Kong is an excellent conduit for the China
market to raise capital and attain international recognition,"
says Mr. Cheung, highlighting the immense business potential
from China's liberalized market. China's priority is
to gain training, management and international exposure
and lend global credibility to its market. Hence, it
is already recruiting people with such experience at
the very top level (financial, regulatory, etc.) from
the Hong Kong stock market.
"More generally, I think opportunities in this
industry in China exist only for people with more than
10 years global experience - people who can upgrade
the China market to internationally acceptable levels,"
says Mr. Cheung. At the lower levels, the chances, in
fact, are of the Chinese workforce coming over to train
in Hong Kong. Moreover, so far as technology for this
industry is concerned, Mr. Cheung feels Hong Kong can
learn a thing or two from China, so opportunities are