Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Students get careers off to flying start at HKJC
Having successfully been selected for the Classified Post Shadow a CEO Programme, students Shreya Roy Choudhury, Natalie Leung Hei-wan and Bonnie Mak Bobo Bo-yue got the inside track on the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s (HKJC) philanthropic side as, over the course of three days, they shadowed Leong Cheung, the club’s executive director of charities and community.
“The itinerary we prepared gave the students an overview of the club, and then a deep-dive into the grant-making process,” Cheung explained. “This ranged from strategy and project development, feasibility assessment, and progress tracking, to stakeholder engagement and event management.”
The HKJC has a unique operational model which integrates racing, wagering, membership and philanthropy. It uses surpluses generated by regulated betting to benefit Hong Kong people from all walks of life.
Some 70 per cent of the club’s net annual surpluses are donated to its Charities Trust, enabling the club to play a significant role in the community’s development. Over 1,300 charitable and community projects have been supported in the past decade alone.
The students’ itinerary included a tour of the two racecourses and various facilities, as well as meetings with current graduate trainees to learn more about their working lives.
Choudhury, a final-year student studying business economics at the City University of Hong Kong, was particularly impressed by the way senior figures throughout the club welcomed her and her fellow students.
“I think this highlighted the fact that they really were looking to give us an opportunity to mingle with executives from the senior management level and learn from them,” she said.
Bonnie Mak, a final-year student studying English literature at the University of Hong Kong, found her time spent at the club to be an extremely enlightening experience.
“There is a general misconception about philanthropy. [People think] that it is an easy job to give out money and that the process requires little effort. Yet, the whole shadowing programme for us was, in essence, proof of the opposite.
“From receiving funding proposals to making decisions, the whole process requires a lot of effort, time and patience. The shadowing experience changed my understanding of philanthropy and allowed me to dive into the club’s funding strategies.”
It was this type of insight that the HKJC hoped would be fostered by the shadowing itinerary. “We wanted the shadows to see that philanthropy requires more than a passion for social causes – important though that is,” Cheung said. “It is a profession which requires a clear mind, a strong will and a collaborative approach to solving social challenges.”
For Leung, a fourth-year student studying politics and law at the University of Hong Kong, the chance to exchange views with Executive Council member Bernard Chan at the Jockey Club Scholarship Alumni High Table dinner event was invaluable.
“He shared with us his experience of making important decisions on issues of public interest, and his observations and beliefs,” she said. “His sharing and philosophy enabled me to reflect on the situation in Hong Kong and inspired me to rethink my goals and career paths.”
The three students also got the chance to take part in the opening event of one the club’s new charity projects, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Jockey Club Social Innovation Centre, and hear first-hand from project participants and young entrepreneurs.
While Cheung was impressed with all three students, he did have some advice for the trio as they contemplate their post-university working lives.
“Perhaps they need to do a bit more soul searching on life and work,” he said. “Sometimes it isn’t landing the highest-salary job that gets you the furthest or brings you the greatest joy in life.”
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Students get careers off to flying start at HKJC.