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Career Path

The other side of the lens

by Grace Chan

Oonagh Chan
head of broadcasting services
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Photo: Wallace Chan

Truly successful industry veterans tend to attribute their achievements to the people around them. In Oonagh Chan's case, it's down to a crowd of millions.

Mrs Chan, who is the Hong Kong Jockey Club's head of broadcasting services, tapped into the television and film production industry some three decades ago. She notes that her biggest career achievements thus far are the friendships she has made.

In her current capacity, Mrs Chan leads a production line-up of more than 100 full-time and 150 part-time staff X the biggest team in a non-broadcasting organisation in Asia. "I take pride in my highly productive and loyal team," she says.

Mrs Chan believes that creative talent deserve respect, good faith and ultimately, a huge dose of trust. "In view of this, good management means stepping into their shoes, allowing room for tolerance while delivering encouragement and praise for good work," she says.

This belief has resulted in an increasingly confident and competent team, with most of her crewmembers attaining higher qualifications. "This is good news as far as succession planning is concerned," stresses Mrs Chan.

Humble beginning

Mrs Chan embarked on a career immediately after graduation in 1976, with only a Form Five education. Initially, she became a production assistant for the popular TVB children's programme Hopscotch.

Over the following decade, she was part of a myriad of local and overseas production projects including the first outdoor broadcast of a tennis match in Guangzhou, the construction of Asia's largest corporate production TV system in Macau and the construction of Hong Kong's largest video screen.

In 1985, however, she decided that she needed a change of pace, so moved to Australia where she spent four years catching up with her studies, completing a bachelor's degree in communication at the University of Newcastle.

With experience, reputation and a qualification to boot, Mrs Chan was subsequently invited back to the field. "I started working at Macau Jockey Club for the instalment of a new TV production system and the localisation of its TV production team. In 1993, I made a move over to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and became an audio visual operations manager, working on the replacement cycle for the organisation's AV system," she says.

Owing to her dual role as supervisor in content creation and TV production system development, Mrs Chan has faced numerous challenges, which naturally entailed a great deal of excitement.


"I take pride in my highly productive and loyal team"

"My team helped stage the live broadcast on 31 December 1999 at the Happy Valley racecourse, ringing in the new year. Despite the complexity of coordinating with various external parties, the sense of achievement was beyond words," she remarks.

The new millennium also ushered in the digital broadcast era, giving Mrs Chan an unprecedented opportunity to further the capability of her team, particularly for the implementation of the world's widest TV displays with six synchronised replay channels at the HKJC racecourses.

Alongside new system developments, she has produced a handful of TV programmes, including the infotainment programme Racing Express.

Balancing act

Despite being a multitasking professional managing a hectic work schedule, Mrs Chan insists on driving her son to school every morning and spending time with her family, sometimes in front of the television. "We enjoy a good film and quality TV programmes," she says.

She is particularly keen on her academic pursuits. Having completed an MBA degree from the University of South Australia in 1989 and a second master's degree in multimedia and entertainment technology in 2007 from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, she is now studying for a doctorate in business administration.

"Part of my responsibility comprises working with numerous external consultants. My current studies help me to keep abreast of the latest management theories and to speak the same language as the consultants," she explains, exuding great enthusiasm.

Over the years, Mrs Chan has given lectures at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Vocational Training Centre. Currently, she is a visiting lecturer in multimedia and entertainment technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. "Knowledge transfer is a dual process. I've learnt a great deal from my students," she emphasises, pointing out that skills in project management are essential for people aiming for a higher position on the corporate ladder.

All these years in a management role have only fuelled Mrs Chan's passion for video production more vigorously. "Last Easter I took the challenge to video-document a volunteering tour in China for Sower Actions. My five-year plan is to showcase a documentary about Hong Kong's volunteers," she concludes.


Taken from Career Times 26 June 2009, p. B8

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