Can you tell us about your journey in the Department of Clinical Oncology in the past 25 years?
After finishing my training in oncology in the UK, I joined CUHK in 1993, at a time when the Faculty of Medicine was breaking new grounds in inter-disciplinary treatment and research, particularly in Asian-prevalent cancers. I worked closely with colleagues from surgery, internal medicine, radiology, and anatomical and chemical pathology and firmly established my research interest in developing novel treatment strategies for nasopharyngeal carcinoma. In 2002, the then Department Chair Prof. Philip James Johnson decided to move back to England and although I was a relative newcomer to management, I was given the opportunity to become Chairman and Chief of Service of the Department of Clinical Oncology. Six months later, the Prince of Wales Hospital was besieged by SARS which was a tough battle won with everyone in the hospital uniting and fighting together. I learned from the experience that leadership is about being part of the team and giving support at the right times.
What led you to Wu Yee Sun College?
Over 10 years ago the founding Master Prof. Rance Lee and I became friends and he invited me to take part in building the newly established College. I was deeply attracted by his visions for the College and I became one of the six founding fellows of the Sunny College on CUHK campus. With the increasing number of students and constant development of the College, two Associate Masters were appointed in 2016 and I was honoured to be one of them. That also meant greater involvement with the College affairs. Upon Professor Lee’s retirement in the next year, I was nominated to succeed this important position. I stood by my two children, now university graduates, as they navigated their youth into adulthood, and would like to bring some of that experience to support the students of the College.
What do you see are the edges of Wu Yee Sun College?
The most obvious must be its location. Wu Yee Sun College faces the Tolo Harbour and enjoys a picturesque view with Pat Sin Leng. The Spanish villa at the central courtyard of the College was named ‘The House of Sunny Living’ in 2016 to promote and epitomize a healthy lifestyle. Our students can mingle in The Lounge, train their bodies and clear their heads in the harbour-view gym. Our College mission: ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit with Social Responsibility’ is not a cliché mission but a belief firmly held and put into practice by our teachers and students. The CUHK Store (that supports local economy) and V’air (that promotes low-carbon local tours) are two of the projects that emerged from our 24-hour Creative Laboratory. They are student-initiated and socially beneficial startup projects.
What new initiatives have you implemented since becoming College Master?
We live in a fast-changing time. To instil life skills in our students is as important as the transfer of knowledge. That’s why I proposed to integrate ‘Servant Leadership with Integrity’ into the curriculum of the College General Education. The idea is to teach the students how to gain trust in the workplace, learn from failures and become ethical citizens and leaders. I plan to invite more people in responsible positions who feel the same need to equip the young to bring not only internship opportunities but life education to our students.
How do you balance your commitments to the Medical School and to the College?
I like to plan. I believe that if we plan well we can accomplish a lot more. With the exception of handling crises, all meetings should be pre-arranged and agenda set and of course, there are regular hospital and teaching commitments. Since most college and student activities are in the evenings, they do not conflict with my daytime work.
Do you have any lifelong acquired interest?
I began taking piano lesson at the age of four, and took part in music festivals when I was in primary and secondary school. I still take great delight in playing the piano. For sports, I particularly enjoy playing tennis. My wife often quipped that whatever I take a liking to, I stay with it for the rest of my life.
This article was originally published in No. 515, Newsletter on Apr 2018.