In the company of learners
Having seen Synergis Management Services’ evolution from property management to facilities and asset management, executive director and managing director Dr Fan Cheuk-hung believes the potential of a company and its staff expands exponentially every time they boldly go where they have not gone before. The former civil servant retraces his own steps.
Why did you leave the Housing Department after working there for eight years?
It took 14 years to get promoted and that was too long for me. I thought there would be more opportunities in the private sector, so I left the Housing Department in 1989 and successively worked for two large property developers for almost eight years before joining Synergis in 1997.
What motivated you to move?
I started my career in property management and had never thought I would be involved in asset management and lead a listed company. As you take one step at a time and continue to learn as you move on, you will explore new horizons in your career.
It is also crucial that your company embraces changes and opportunities. As a learning company, our staff members are encouraged to learn new things as we grow.
I am now partnering with real estate companies in the US and making reciprocal arrangements to introduce mainland investors to projects in the US, such as golf courses and vineyards. As there are a lot of well-off individual investors on the mainland, helping them invest overseas is one of the new businesses we are developing.
What is the goal of property and facilities management?
In a nutshell, the main role of property management is to take care of buildings and the environment. We also provide customer service to owners to help them sustain the value and maintain the quality of their properties.
For facilities management, our clients are mainly enterprises whose core business does not involve facilities management, so we partner with them to help maintain their facilities. Our aim is to help them excel in whatever businesses they do. As for asset management, investors, mainly from mainland China, seek our professional advice and services to buy, develop, lease out and sell property.
What competitive edge do local property managers have?
Hong Kong still has a lot of advantages in the face of competition from the mainland. First of all, we have the international exposure to handle a wide range of issues. Second, our management ethics continue to be the key attraction for investment funds. If we ever give up on upholding our ethics when doing business on the mainland, we will lose.
We hire mainlanders at the project level while planning is handled by Hong Kong staff. We now have 12 senior staff from Hong Kong – including regional and associate directors – in our regional offices in Beijing and Shanghai. We also hire local staff as property managers and for other operational functions.
Is property management still an attractive industry?
Once you decide to join this industry, there is a long and wide career path ahead of you as opportunities are plenty. Some people with the same background as mine are still working as senior property managers – and they are fine with it. It depends on the person to ask himself what he wants from his career.
When I joined Synergis as a general manager in 1997, we only had 40 projects. In 2012, we had 300 projects. As we continue to expand, we have a succession plan to help selected “high flyers” grow and promote them to senior positions. We continue to hire new staff to fill vacancies and this creates an ongoing hiring process.
Where do innovative ideas come from?
Innovation comes from your passion for your work. Once you have the passion, you will have new ideas to add value to what you offer.
For example, our clients are most concerned about cost control, property value and the environment, so we came up with new ways to offer value-added solutions to meet their needs. In addition, our property-management team are now connecting with our clients on social media platforms to create a community.
Synergis employs over 6,000 staff to manage a portfolio of about 390 projects – more than 180,000 residential units, 75,000 car-park spaces and 6.8m square metres of residential, commercial and industrial facilities in Hong Kong and in mainland China.
Listed in Hong Kong in 2003, its latest offerings include investment advisory and execution services for wealthy individuals and big organisations in China, allowing them to invest in overseas assets. Synergis recruits top candidates and helps high-calibre staff to move up the career ladder and become future leaders.