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Trio realise towering ambitions

It seems appropriate that a programme designed to give selected students a chance to see what business looks like from the managerial summit should take in a trip to the ICC Tower, the tallest building in Hong Kong.

The visit was just part of a packed itinerary prepared by Victor Cheung, director of J Roger Preston, for three students: Hidy Yan, a final-year engineering degree student at Chinese University; Duncan Ng Chin-hung, a final-year electrical engineering degree student at Polytechnic University; and Lawrence Cheung, a second-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Hong Kong.

"The three-day programme was very condensed and we tried to expose the students to various aspects of a building services engineering consulting company," Victor Cheung explains. "On day one, they were given a briefing on the background and operation of my company as well as on project design and execution workflow. On the second day, they visited three completed projects, where they were shown building services installations in plant rooms - [areas] where ordinary people would not be able to gain access to. They spent the third day attending meetings with me."

All three students saw winning a place on the Shadow a CEO Programme as a huge help in achieving their goals. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet one of the biggest names in the engineering industry in Hong Kong, experience his daily life and pick up some essential management tips," says Lawrence Cheung.

The students also got to see J Roger Preston's work on the HSBC data centre in Tseung Kwan O and Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Science Park.

Ng found that Cheung's priorities were not always as he would have expected. "I observed that he is down-to-earth - he not only works closely with the senior-level engineers, but also the junior ones. Before joining the programme, I thought that a CEO should focus on the managerial stuff and not communicate with the junior-level workers. I understood that he cares not only about the staff, but also their families as well."

Lawrence Cheung also began to develop a sense of the range of skills required by the J Roger Preston director. "He is a combination of an ideas person - like an entrepreneur - who's willing to take risks and think big, and a hands-on person, eagle-eyed in matters of finance and human resources, and always willing to dig into the details until everything is perfect."

The HKU student can also reel off the skills, attributes and habits Victor Cheung advised them to cultivate: "A commitment to lifelong learning and efficient time management; strong connections with clients and friends and a good communication style; an ability to put staff first; positive thinking; the maintenance of an energetic body and mind; a responsible and trustworthy personality; and a constant awareness of the quality of the services you provide."

Yan, meanwhile, explains how it was her childhood dream to become an engineer - to serve and bring happiness through improving human standards of living. "The time I spent with J Roger Preston allows me to determine my future career as an engineer," she says.

It wasn't just the students who recognised the programme's value. "The three students are very smart and eager to learn and we have offered employment to two who are graduating this summer," Victor Cheung says.