Tung-keung Chiang’s (MBA 1998) connection with the power industry all stems from his father: “He was an electrical technician. When I was small, I followed him to different sites and watched him perform all kinds of work. I became fascinated by power system equipment.” When Chiang went to university to study engineering in 1985, there were 105 first-year students majoring in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Among them, only 12 were admitted to Power Engineering stream. It is not surprising that Chiang was one of them.
A Myriad of Opportunities Right Where He is
Chiang joined CLP Power right after graduation and, barring a short period of time, has stayed with the company ever since. In 2017, he took the helm as the company’s managing director. When asked how he has kept himself energised working at the same company for so many years, he laughed and said that his time at CLP has never been dull: “I have worked in different departments at CLP, and every time I changed positions, I felt like I was having a new job. There was always something fresh, and everything I learnt added up to a bigger picture of the power profession.”
Chiang recognised the efforts that CLP place on people development: “Human potential can be enormous. If the talents of our people are not discovered and unleashed, they may stay latent forever. That is why CLP, from time to time, identifies high-calibres to take up different positions so that they can develop their talents and ‘power up’ for the future. Of course, we always respect their decision. If they prefer to stay at where they are, we will absolutely not force them to.”
Embracing the Industry’s Transformation
Climate change and decarbonisation have become hot topics of late. While many corporations consider these issues a challenge, Chiang sees them differently: “I am even more excited about my job now than ever before because the industry is going through a revolutionary disruption. Climate issues have prompted governments around the world to set carbon net-zero goals, and societies that aim to achieve carbon neutrality must start with power generation. At the same time, digitalisation is accelerating in all fields. I&T is fast gaining prevalence in the financial industry, and its applications in the energy sector are multiplying by the day.” He added, “I am exhilarated to play a part in an industry undergoing a transformation and to contribute to the sustainable development of Hong Kong.
Chiang said that in order for Hong Kong to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it will have to actively develop local renewable energy facilities and incentives, such as offering a renewable energy Feed-in Tariff scheme. In addition, Hong Kong will need to introduce more zero-carbon energy from neighbouring regions, which will require cross-border infrastructures and regional cooperation. But carbon reduction is best done sooner than later. For this reason, apart from practising carbon reduction at the source, CLP is promoting innovative digital technologies to help customers enhance energy efficiency and conservation. The company is also supporting and investing in innovative technology to establish an energy ecosystem.
He added that public education and knowledge sharing are also vital to the continuous development of CLP’s business as well as a sustainable future. CLP has been encouraging residential and business customers to reduce their energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. At the same time, the company has launched a host of education initiatives, covering the entire education pathway, from kindergarten to tertiary education, to inspire and nurture an eco-lifestyle among all citizens.
Chiang explained that his job comes with its own unique challenges. As an engineer, thinking logically and finding answers based on data have long been his forte. “However, with different social factors at play, human conditions cannot always be explained or resolved merely with data.” Fortunately, Chiang was able to hone his soft skills before taking up the post of managing director: “In 2002, I was posted to the corporate planning department that helps set company strategies. Our focus was not only on considering and meeting our customers’ needs, but also on exceeding customer expectations.” Chiang added that his studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) also sharpened his understanding of corporate operations and management. Additionally, CLP offers its staff a variety of capability-building opportunities, including options to study overseas. Perhaps the data really does say it best, as the turnover rate at CLP is regularly in the single digit. In 2019, the company was named one of the world’s 12 Most Attractive Employers by the global HR firm Randstad, and it entered the Randstad 2020/2021 Global Hall of Fame as well.
Chiang makes a lively short video with his colleagues every month to share the latest development and challenges of the industry. The videos also feature topics on staff well-being, community and public education.
Balancing Interests with the Best for Hong Kong in Mind
Chiang’s decades-long career with CLP has given him countless memorable moments. Among the most important is CLP’s emphasis on Hong Kong’s needs: “No matter whether it is the major shareholders or the management, everyone considers Hong Kong their home. Every decision is made with Hong Kong’s overall well-being as the first priority, which in turn guides us in figuring out what CLP can do for the better tomorrows of the city.”
Since it is a listed company, investors naturally expect CLP to maximise returns, but society never likes a bigger electricity bill. Chiang likened this dilemma to the “energy trilemma”, which refers to the difficulty to strike a balance between delivering a safe and reliable supply to acceptable environmental standards, whilst containing tariff adjustment at reasonable levels by making the impossible possible. Nevertheless, because CLP, in its 120 years of history, has always placed Hong Kong first, making it easier for different stakeholders to accept the company’s decisions: “If we always thought about ourselves first, it would be very difficult to strike a balance between priorities.”
Citing the example of CLP’s Retail and Catering Coupons Programme launched this year, Chiang said: “If CLP only cared about the company’s image, we would simply reduce the electricity tariff to meet public demand. However, in this way, we would not be able to help stimulate the post-pandemic economy and benefit various sectors. We only offered catering coupons for people in need at the start of last year. But after communicating with stakeholders across society, we decided to expand the coverage to more sectors this year and assist more people affected by the pandemic.”
Teaching Others While also Learning from Them
As Chiang looked back on his MBA studies at CUHK, he was grateful that the experience enabled him to expand his horizons. Since graduation, he has eagerly participated in mentorship programme to give back to his alma mater: “The mentorship programme is really a two-way affair. It has allowed me to learn more about the younger generation and their thinking as well.”
While Chiang was inspired by his father to join the power industry, he is not pressuring his son to follow the same path. Chiang hopes that his relationship with his son is both parental and friendly. He said his son prefers history to electricity and recognised that his son’s knowledge of history is far greater than his own. They learn from each other, at the same time, Chiang hopes that he can continue to be his son’s mentor and share his experiences with the boy.
Summarising the driving force behind his conduct at work and in life, Chiang said: “Every day, I hope to be a better person than I was the day before. Have I made improvements, learnt something or met someone new? There is no pressure in any of this, just a search for life’s positive energy, out of curiosity.” It is precisely this energy that has kept Chiang “powered up” for decades, even at the very same company.
First published in the CUHK Business School Alumni Portal and the iMoney magazine on 15 May 2021, this article was republished with permission from the School’s Alumni and Corporate Affairs Office.