As the youngest finance graduate in MIT’s history, and with a successful IPO already under his belt, Mario Ho is a modern-day rock star in the corporate world. The ambitious entrepreneur and CEO of Tiancai is set to celebrate his wedding with Chinese supermodel Ming Xi, and now he lifts the veil on why winning means everything and celebrating special moments on the ocean.
We’ve heard a lot about your incredible proposal to Ming. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
I think so! I mean, with a proposal like that, it would be hard to say I’m not romantic, right? In daily life though, I’m not into that traditional type of romance, as I’m quite logical. It’s more about telling Ming how special she is to me rather than the classic flowers and chocolates routine.
How do you switch off and give yourself time to relax?
To be honest, I’m a modern kind of guy, so it’s probably computer gaming with friends. The older generation, they play mahjong, and for my group of friends, it’s just a modern version of that – four or five friends together at a table, having fun together and taking a break from everyday life. I’m normally trying to win!
What does a romantic holiday at sea look like to you?
I grew up in the nineties, so my ideas of romance are built on those ceaselessly romantic movies. Definitely, a romantic vacation at sea appeals to me – having a private balcony where you’re watching the ship sail, holding someone you love, feeling the ocean breeze. A cruise vacation with Dream Cruises would be perfect, everyone should be excited to try it for that special occasion.
So, tech and digital innovations interest you?
Absolutely. I think the VR space is fantastic, in terms of the limitless options and opportunities that you can experience. It transforms things. It’s fantastically innovative for the Genting family to have that on their cruises; it’s a one-of-a-kind activity and such a testament that they’re committed to introducing new and exciting things for their guests.
What are your passions in life?
Summed up in one word, it’s winning. I get the most satisfaction, the most excitement, the most joy, out of winning. That spans across every single activity in my life – whether it’s big or small. Winning is my passion, it’s what drives me.
You’re an ambitious guy! Has there been one turning point in your life that set you on that track and that gave you your passion for winning?
There’s been a few. I think my earliest was when I won the math competition in Hong Kong when I was 10; that was the first time that I was widely praised for winning. My father came as a guest to give me the award, and it was a very important moment in my life. You’re standing on the podium; your father is giving you a prize and the entire city’s media is reporting on it. That was when I realised that success amongst your peers can really bring a huge amount of satisfaction, and I wanted to replicate that feeling again and again in my life. It was euphoria!
And how do you define or measure your success?
I started by out-competing my peers in my age group, in class. Then I started jumping grades to prove myself – I jumped one grade in high school and another in university, so I graduated young. And then after that, I started trying to beat everyone. It was easy to measure success when I was in school, because everything is graded by age, but then after I left university it became much more complex because, of course, nothing is graded by age; there’s no rules in terms of what you do. So, I simply found what people were generally doing in their twenties and thirties, and I just aimed to do it earlier.
You have some impressive projects in the works. Who has been your biggest source of inspiration when it comes to finding success in life?
It’s a cliché, but honestly, it’s my dad. He defined what success meant, he showed me that a successful person can still be humble, polite and still have manners; that they can still treat people well and with respect. More importantly, he made everything from zero. While our family has been wealthy for several generations, my grandfather went broke, so my father has gone from 100 to zero, and then he has worked tirelessly to take himself back from zero to 100. It’s in his character.
Photography Man Wai
Art Director Harriet Gregory
Stylist Genie Yam
Hair and Makeup Shirley Choi