As more opportunities open up in the banking and finance industry in Hong Kong, individuals are beginning to neglect the information technology field that has proved a popular career choice in recent years. Nevertheless, despite the recent lull in IT recruitment, ample opportunity still exists for tremendous career developments in the IT domain.
Tobby To, technical director of Asia Vision Technology Limited, believes that technology will always play a vital role in Hong Kong developments and growth. Without continuous technological discoveries and improvements, Hong Kong will experience difficulty achieving future international recognition as one of the top modern cities in Asia.
Mr To's first exposure to the industry was at university when he conducted research for his professor, John Lee, who is also the chairman and CEO of Asia Vision Limited. At the invitation of Dr Lee, Mr To joined the company as a project manager and became responsible for a comprehensive range of implementations for China and Hong Kong projects. He explains, "Our services and technologies are unique compared to other information technology companies. We specialise in developing patented computer vision technology in vehicles, licence plate numbers and container number recognition. Not only that, we also offer a suite of versatile and robust optical character recognition solutions for transportation and traffic management as well as port and container terminal management."
To achieve the corporate objectives in the company's earlier stages, Mr To worked as project manager ensuring the smooth operation of almost every project. This included regular site visits to customs control points, various terminals, and publicly or privately owned car parks. In addition, one of his main responsibilities was to carry out diversified market research and in-depth analyses to enhance technology and services.
"Developing effective communication strategies is essential"
Over the years, as Mr To advanced towards his current position as technical director, his duties increased. Today, he manages the four main departments: research and development, project team, service team and management of information technology (MIS), ensuring effective coordination to accomplish all projects. "I have been exposed to the various departments over the years, so I am now equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to manage each division. It is not a simple task. Completing projects and providing services may seem straightforward. However, effectively ensuring a professional team shares your goals and all your customers see your vision is the challenge," notes Mr To.
In his management position, communication plays an important role. Mr To frequently conducts internal meetings with his subordinates while simultaneously seeking opportunities to coach staff on project management skills in the industry. External communication has also become one of his major responsibilities. Mr To points out, "Communicating with our clients who are from multinational corporations, local companies, governmental authorities and public organisations has become one of my main objectives over the past years. Developing effective communication strategies is essential because clients come from various backgrounds and cultures."
In recent years, the need for Asia Vision Technology's products and services has increased tremendously.
Mr To believes that numerous opportunities exist for young graduates in the field. Of late, individuals in Hong Kong seem to assume that career prospects in information technology have narrowed drastically. The reality, however, is the opposite. The IT industry has broadened, offering a comprehensive range of career opportunities for dynamic young people. Nowadays, in addition to software programming, civil engineers and technicians can choose from a wider variety of potential IT positions. "We do not require all our staff members to be civil engineering or IT graduates. They may possess an MBA and still enjoy a rewarding career with us," Mr To says.
In order to succeed in this industry, Mr To stresses the need for open-mindedness and passion. Additionally, long-term industrial vision and professional persistence are key ingredients for further achievement. "To be able to see and touch our actual projects brings a sense of satisfaction that is absolutely indescribable," he concludes.
"Our prime business markets are in China and overseas. To accommodate the rapid expansion of our businesses in China, we have opened three offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. In the future, as a major element of our business development strategy, we plan to establish more offices on the mainland," Mr To adds. However, despite corporate development in China, Hong Kong remains a priority. "Although I admit that Hong Kong's progress in this field has been slow, in the coming years we anticipate enormous developments, especially when the Hong Kong government decides to develop a more efficient traffic system to strengthen links between Hong Kong and China," he predicts.