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Rex Wong

Rex Wong

Intrapreneur

Tell us about your background.
I’m an architect who was educated and qualified in the United States. I attended Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University and am registered in Florida. Currently, I’m CEO of Kum Shing Construction.

What’s one thing not a lot of people know about you?
Since my time working as an intern for a design studio in Madrid, I can’t resist a game of foosball.

Did you always want to be an intrapreneur?
I founded several new ventures since joining the urban infrastructure business, including some in real-estate development, investment and technology application. While I’ve always had the drive to do something new, such as working abroad, these efforts partly fulfil my hunger for creativity and innovation.

What was your first big break?
The first property development project that I led from inception to sales was an urban renewal project in Guangdong offering nearly 200 residential units. I’m proud to have introduced quite a few design and marketing ideas that were foreign to the local market at the time, such as turning the sales centre into an art gallery. Fortunately the project turned out to be a huge success, with units being sold out almost instantly when launched.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Within our industry, seniority and track record are crucial in establishing a positive personal reputation, which can help tremendously for an individual to be effective at work. It’s particularly challenging for younger leaders such as myself to earn a high level of trust and respect from my colleagues. It requires constant effort and making the most of every platform and opportunity to demonstrate one’s quality and vision.

Whom do you look up to and why?
I was close to my grandfather, whom I respected for his ability to overcome challenges in creative ways. He always shared stories from the past about how he was able to solve problems that educated and qualified professionals weren’t able to. What I learned from him is that flexibility, open-mindedness and uncompromising perseverance are crucial.

What does it take to succeed in your line of work?
Mutual trust and understanding are the most important qualities that can truly help to deliver work successfully. To earn the trust of others, one must always deliver on promises and be able to communicate effectively when challenges arise.

What are you most proud of?
Not remaining in my comfort zone but always seeking to grow and improve. On the company level, some years ago one of our strategic goals was to expand the business footprint beyond Hong Kong. Today we’ve established our presence across the border in Guangdong through property development activities, as well as in Macau and Bangkok, with our infrastructure advisory services for the local asset owners. On the individual level, I started out in the company as a project manager and was eventually promoted to chief executive after serving in almost every department and business unit.

What advice would you offer aspiring intrapreneurs?
Having a strong sense of timing is key. In business, no matter whether it’s an established firm or a start-up, it’s important to remain competitive by being agile. But what I’ve also learned is that it’s also important to be patient with results and to understand that some things take time and can’t be forced.

How has it been for you during the last months?
Like other firms, we’ve taken advantage of the pandemic situation to seek to go further down the road of digital transformation. Adopting technology typically involves a change in management style but the various social-distancing measures, such as moving some meetings to Zoom and co-creating shared meeting notes, did not face much resistance. With the downturn of the economy, every industry is facing new challenges and we’re no different. However, as in the past we expect that the government will launch additional infrastructure projects as one of the ways to drive economic recovery. We’ll position ourselves to prepare for these opportunities.

What can we look forward to from you in the next 12 months?
I will be speaking at a number of conferences in the coming months about application of technology in a smart city. My firm is also actively positioning ourselves to take on the various new opportunities in telecommunication and environmental infrastructure to contribute to Hong Kong being a more connected and sustainable city.