What edge does an Arts degree give graduates when they leave HKU? Andrew Fung is well-positioned to answer that question from both angles: as an Arts graduate (with a BA in translation and English literature) and as a high-powered executive with many years’ experience recruiting staff.
Mr Fung graduated from HKU in 1981 and rose through the ranks of the finance industry. He is currently the Executive Director and Head of Global Banking and Markets of Hang Seng Bank and is a member of a number of public bodies. He recently returned to HKU to speak at the Faculty of Arts graduation ceremony in December. An excerpt of his speech is below:
I have worked in the financial services industry since graduation. Every day, I am faced with the need to make decisions – some are easy, others much more difficult. For example, there are occasions when I need to decide whether to move out of a particular equity or foreign exchange position in order to cut losses. During such times I share Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” pain. I owe a lot to the professors in the Faculty who did not just teach me about the works of Shakespeare and the Story of the Stone, but also imbued me with valuable life and interpersonal communication skills that have proved critical at key points in my career and personal life.
As students in the Arts Faculty you are fortunate in that skills such as critical reasoning, creativity and observation that are a central part of arts-based programmes provide an excellent springboard from which to launch your career. My university peers are well represented across a diverse range of sectors – from politicians and civil servants to entrepreneurs and business professionals – there are few boundaries to success if you take the knowledge you gain and apply it wisely.
I have a former classmate who majored in comparative literature and is now a very successful human resources director who has worked for a number of multinational corporations. He has applied the skills he learned during his studies to differentiate himself from other well-qualified candidates.
On a more personal note, I have hired graduates in history, translation, Japanese and fine arts for various financial and banking positions, with most going on to forge successful careers for themselves.
Arts students are imaginative, creative and openminded, and I encourage you to be adventurous as you begin to plan your future careers.