For those who were born in the 60s and had good fortune with stable pay, it would take great effort to step out from one’s comfort zone and start a new venture, especially if the overall investment environment was bad and one needed to stay on his own without any extra support. However, starting with small-scale electromechanical projects, this alumnus was able to accomplish this, and kept running his company with steady growth, finally becoming a renowned integrated construction engineering contractor and power substations constructor in Macau. “Stay steady and be up with the times” can best describe the career path of alumnus Sou Kun Tou (Class of 2002, MSc in Electromechanical Engineering), who is currently the Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of MECOM Power & Construction Limited.
Professional Qualifications Matter in Career
Alumnus Sou has been interested in electronics and machines since childhood because of his father, who was an electronics worker. Therefore, he chose to study electromechanical engineering in college. After graduation, he served in engineering and management positions in local companies and government. In the year 1997, UM set up a new master’s program in electronical mechanics and alumnus Sou decided to enroll in the program to expand his horizons. “In response to the actual needs of development in Macau, UM changed the program name from mechanical engineering to electromechanical engineering. This was also helpful in acquiring the qualification to endorse plans for electrical mechanical work in Macau as well. So I joined in and became part of the first batch of students to enroll in the course after the renaming. During the former Portuguese Macao government, almost all construction plans were endorsed by Portuguese engineers. However, the law was modified at the time of the Macau SAR government and a Committee of Professional Qualification was established. Hence, I was part of the first batch of local E&M engineers registered in the committee with the UM master’s degree of electromechanical engineering,” he said. Alumnus Sou concluded that the good timing was a coincidence, but if he hadn’t been well prepared, he would have missed these golden opportunities.
Courage to Step Out of His Comfort Zone
“I got the chance to be admitted by the ‘PEP Especial’ programme organized by the local government after graduation. This would ensure career advancement in my working life in civil services after I completed the program. All my colleagues agreed that I was so lucky to get this chance. But I just gave it up and decided to work in industry to equip myself before I finally worked in the government in 1994.” Having served in the civil service sector, which used to be one of the most reliable and sought-after jobs, alumnus Sou chose to quit his job and stepped out of his comfort zone to start a new venture after working there for ten years. He started his business in 2006, when the investment environment was unfavorable and without having any policy support. However, with his managerial experience in private enterprises and good knowledge of local governmental procedures, he was able to keep running his business successfully and smoothly. Then he met his partner and jointly established the “Hung Yip Group” (HYG). This change helped him gain a foothold in the local market. They later set up “MECOM Power & Construction Limited”, which was successfully listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in early 2018. “The rapid development in Macau appeals to many companies coming here for construction projects, among which are some large listed companies. Considering that the aspects of talent, technical skills and quality possessed by our company were competitive to those listed companies, we decided that we should also be listed to make ourselves more competitive in the market,” he added.
“Trust” is the Foundation of Teamwork
Over the last decade, HYG has participated in a wide range of large-scale and high-profile technically challenging construction projects in Macau. Among these works, three landmark projects were honored with the gold award (Hong Kong-Macau Region) by the China Construction Metal Structure Association (CCMSA): structural steelworks construction for City of Dreams, Morpheus hotel and the Banquet Hall and Theatre at The Parisian, which signify HYG’s great achievement in large-scale steel structure construction. In addition, they have completed numerous landmark structural projects, such as the “8 ferris wheel” and 60 meter-high stainless steel statues at Studio City. Alumnus Sou believes that keeping pace with what’s happening in your industry can lead you to success. The mutual trust and support from partners and employees also plays a vital role. He explained, “As a one-person business, you can make all the decisions by yourself, but sometimes you might not consider things comprehensively. As for the partnership, you can brainstorm ideas with your partners and you can figure out solutions by discussion and listening to them. I think it is more effective than working alone. Besides, searching for a partner is just like finding a marriage partner. We must have common goals, ideas and mutual trust. Therefore, cooperation is also an important element in our career life.”
Valuing Employees’ Ability to Work Under Pressure
In talking about the trend of entrepreneurship in recent years, alumnus Sou said that entrepreneurs will think differently in different stages. “Young entrepreneurs will have the advantage of having more enthusiasm and motivation. But they are easily defeated by reality after entering the industry. Even though there are no golden rules of how to become an entrepreneur, working experience in society and business will increase the chance of success.” As a top manager, alumnus Sou places the most value on employees’ ability to work under pressure. He explained, “From the customer’s point of view, it is most important to ensure that the project is completed on schedule and safely. Therefore, the engineers’ preparation work for the projects is very important. As such, the pressure and responsibility are much greater than that in the time of construction work. Besides, you have to liaise and coordinate among parties including customers, construction workers and government departments; communication skills are also important in this job. We recruit interns every year who have strong working abilities, but are easily defeated by failures.” Alumnus Sou encouraged and advised younger alumni it is easy to fall into frustration no matter if you are an employee or entrepreneur. Just learn how to switch your mindset positively and you will find a way out.