Career Path

Putting your heart into it

by Mimi Chan

Public Service -
Transport Department
Judy Li
Deputy commissioner
for transport

It was by chance that Judy Li picked the transport course at The Hong Kong Polytechnic after she completed her F.5 studies. But, from a transport officer to her present title of deputy commissioner for transport, she has found her job very satisfying and has enjoyed the everyday challenges. Her key for success is putting her heart into the job to serve the community.

"I originally planned to study abroad. However, my father told me that there would be a new higher-diploma transport business studies course at the Polytechnic. It was the first transport course in Hong Kong, and I thought it was worth a try. Fortunately, I got a place. Upon graduation, I joined the Transport Department as a transport officer. It was January 1979," Mrs Li recalls.

Twenty four years later, Mrs Li oversees public transport, licensing and management services and the administration of the department, and directly supervises six branch/section heads. As the deputy commissioner, she also advises and assists the commissioner for transport in the formulation of policies and strategies in regulating and monitoring all modes of public transport, including tendering, franchise renewal, fare increase applications and route development programs and, beyond that, she has a lot of other responsibilities.

Founded in 1968, the Transport Department administers the Road Traffic Ordinance and other legislation regulating public transport operations. Its responsibilities cover: strategic transport planning, road traffic management, road safety, government bridges and tunnels, car parks and metered parking spaces, regulation of internal roads, land and waterborne public transport, and licensing and inspection of vehicles. The vision of the department is to provide the world's best transport system which is safe, reliable, efficient, environmentally friendly and satisfying to both users and operators.

A rewarding career

Throughout the years in the department, Mrs Li found her job very rewarding. "I served as transport officer, senior transport officer, chief transport officer, principal transport officer and assistant commissioner for transport before I was promoted to my present post in September 2002. I have to say, every position is unique, and I have come across many different challenges. Public transport is our core, but we also get licensing, outsourcing projects and a lot more; the Tsing Ma Control Area Project from 1995 to 1997 when I was the principal transport officer was one of the most memorable."

"Be responsible, do your best and work for results. Ask what you should do to constantly improve. Don't expect any personal gain or glory, or gratitude from others. This is your job."

Leadership, communication and analytical mind

A career in this profession requires more skills then just professional qualifications. "Core competencies include leadership, communication and a very analytical mind. Interpersonal effectiveness is also essential. You have to understand what the public wants; on the other hand, you also need to understand the transport operators' perspectives. There are always many different interests to balance. How can you motivate the operators and your staff to serve the public better, and how can you get the messages across to them and to the public effectively? You have to convince them, and make them understand you too. It is the same with our other stakeholders, especially politicians and other government bodies like works departments and the Police. We need to establish ongoing partnerships with them to develop and implement new policies and initiatives. That's why having good communication and inter-personal skills is crucial."

Entry-level positions require applicants with a Hong Kong degree in transport/related studies or equivalent. To work one's way up to senior transport officer, the professional qualification MCILT (Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) is a must. During her service in the Transport Department, Mrs Li earned the MCILT in 1981, a Master's Degree in Transport Planning and Engineering in the UK in 1987, and a Graduate Certificate in Management in the year 1999.

Strive for excellence

To achieve success in the field, Mrs Li once again emphasises the importance of putting your heart into your career. She says, "Be responsible, do your best and work for results. Ask what you should do to constantly improve. Don't expect any personal gain or glory, or gratitude from others. This is your job.

"In my everyday work, I come across many challenges. When formulating new policies or initiatives, people usually hesitate to introduce changes. Don't be scared to change if it is for the better; go for it despite the difficulties, if it will serve the community better."

Under the present economic climate, the civil service reform requires government departments to contain their size, and the Transport Department is no exception. Together with the rising expectations from the public, Mrs Li takes it as a challenge. "To do more, to do better, with less," she concludes.


Taken from Career Times 24 January 2003, p. 24
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