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Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Students exhibit fresh ideas at AsiaWorld-Expo

Published on Saturday, 27 Feb 2016
Joanna Wong Kwan-chui from the University of Hong Kong (left) with Allen Ha, CEO of AsiaWorld-Expo. Photo: AWE
Davon Hui from PolyU (left) with Allen Ha, CEO of AsiaWorld-Expo. Photo: AWE

The year got off to an exciting start for students Joanna Wong Kwan-chiu and Davon Hui. As part of the Classified Post Shadow a CEO Programme, the pair spent three days sharing the working life of AsiaWorld-Expo CEO Allen Ha, and getting a sense of what it takes to lead a major organisation.

They also learned more about a company that successfully hosts over 300 large-scale events each year, including the world’s largest jewellery expo, international conferences and concerts.” 

 “They got a chance to experience high-level business engagements and observe the back-of-house operations of a world-class venue,” Ha explained. “They learned that a growth mindset and a collaborative and innovative way of achieving excellence are some of the attributes an authentic leader should demonstrate.”

Because Ha is also the founding chairman of the Lantau Development Alliance (LaDA), the students gained some insight on the regional planning processes aimed at Lantau and the Pearl River Delta, and the way in which these developments can contribute to Hong Kong’s economic and social growth.

“The biggest highlight for me was when Allen brought us to join the Lantau job-platform meeting,” said Hui, who is in the final year of a double degree programme in marketing and industrial and systems engineering at Polytechnic University. “We saw CEOs and management from different companies – such as HACTL, Gammon and more – join together to discuss strategies to enhance the overall Lantau experience.”

Ha praised both the attitude of his two shadows and the contributions they made during their time on the programme with him. 

“They were engaged and observant throughout the shadowing period,” he said, noting the effort they put into the assignments they were given. “Their observations and recommendations, made from a completely fresh and youthful perspective, definitely added value. Some of their proposals are already being followed up by the AsiaWorld-Expo team.”

Wong, a second-year economics and finance undergraduate student at the University of Hong Kong, was amazed by how seriously she and fellow shadow Hui were taken, particularly when delivering their ideas at the end of the experience.

“At the end of the programme, my partner and I had to give a presentation on our mini-project about brand promotion,” she said. “We did not expect all the top executives to listen to our one-hour presentation. We were very impressed by the attention and respect they paid to our ideas.”

Job surprise for top candidate 

Some rejections are easier to take than others. When Caroline Wong Wing-suet, who graduated from Warwick Business School with an MSc in business (marketing) last year, applied for a place on Classified Post’s Shadow a CEO Programme, she was hoping for a glimpse into the running of one of Hong Kong’s top organisations.

“I remember getting a call from AsiaWorld-Expo’s HR team to say that, unfortunately, I’d failed to get a place on the programme,” Wong said. “I was really disappointed – but then they invited me to an actual job interview. This was a huge surprise to me.” Wong performed well in her interview, and the HR managers at AsiaWorld-Expo were impressed by her maturity and professional attitude, her social and technical abilities, her language skills in both English and Chinese, and the work experience she had already gained. 

Overqualified for the Shadow a CEO Programme, Wong was offered a permanent role in the company’s finance function as a business support officer.

Two months in, Wong is very happy with the opportunities now open to her in what she describes as “a buzzing venue provider”.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Students exhibit fresh ideas at AsiaWorld-Expo.

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