[eNews] An Exclusive Membership

Photo caption: HKUST graduates are being recognised for their elite business acumen.

The 120 new members admitted to the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) joined 2,000-plus local members of one of the world's oldest international honour societies.

With admission by invitation only, BGS recognises business students for their pursuit of excellence, and membership is considered among the highest accolades for students taking a programme accredited by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). 

Speaking at the 17th induction ceremony, Professor Tam Kar Yan, dean of the HKUST School of Business and Management and president of the BGS HKUST Chapter, noted the steady increase in membership since 2000. It includes top students, graduates and faculty members, who are also part of a wider network which spans the world. 

Welcoming the latest group of inductees, Tam commended their outstanding achievements in the practice of business, teaching and research, and study. It was, he noted, an occasion to recognise those who uphold the fine traditions of HKUST and the international honour society. 

“We will continue to extend the reach and network of our local BGS Chapter and build on its strengths to create more opportunities for our students,” Tam said.

Besides the prestige, membership also brings other benefits through continuing recognition, job openings and global contacts. Regular activities range from social events to industry-based seminars and talks by leading executives.  

Founded in the United States in 1913, there are currently about 750,000 BGS members internationally in more than 160 countries. They work across the full spectrum of professions and industries, as well as in government, education, and the non-profit sector. To qualify, undergraduates must be in the top 10 per cent and postgraduates in the top 20 per cent of their respective programmes. Only those at schools accredited by the AACSB are eligible for membership. 

Tam highlighted how the BGS HKUST Chapter is an integral part of the business school’s efforts to reinforce its international standing and emphasise its commitment to excellence. He also noted that the chapter has received continuous support from the academic and business communities, which works to the benefit of all concerned.

Tam also welcomed Anita Fung and Professor Albert Ip as this year’s distinguished honourees, praising them as role models and spotlighting their achievements in business and public service, and their contributions as committee members of the HKUST Council for many years.

Explaining how the BGS honour society strives to promote the values and principles represented by the Greek letters beta, gamma and sigma. Beta is the first letter of the Greek word bebaeos which encourages altruism, enlightened social responsibility and service. Gamma is for gnosis and stands for wisdom and the quest to understand what is unknown. Sigma is for the Greek word spoude which means earnestness and is seen as a quality essential for all great achievements. 

Success means work for more than just money

Delighted to become an honouree member of the HKUST Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter, Professor Albert Ip used his speech at the induction ceremony to outline key lessons learned in the course of a distinguished career.  

“Some of you may decide to join the banking or finance sectors to earn big money,” said the executive director and chief executive of Langham Hospitality Investments. “Let me tell you, it may not be the case.”

Spanning more than three decades, Ip's career in banking included senior positions at Citigroup, First National Bank of Chicago, Wells Fargo, and Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong. As a young man, he characterised success as being famous, living in a beautiful house and driving a fancy car, but obviously those views changed along the way.

“My idea of success is very different today,” he said. "Now it is to live a happy life and simply be who you are.” The starting point is to find out what you like and what you are good at. “You should listen to your heart and go for what motivates you. If you do what you love and love what you do, there is a higher chance of making a difference and finding contentment and fulfilment at work.”

Ip did just that in pursuing a passion for higher education. He is now an honorary professor at Lingnan University and an adjunct professor at the City University of Hong Kong, Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the University of Macau.

“I enjoy learning and thinking; that is what motivates me to do what I do," he said.

In her address, fellow HKUST BGS Chapter honouree Anita Fung emphasised the importance of pursuing one’s aspirations with an open mind and contributing to the wider community. She noted that the BGS principles of honour, wisdom and earnestness provide a solid platform for living a productive and rewarding life. 

Currently an independent non-executive director of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Fung described how the banking and finance industry had given her opportunities, challenges and satisfaction. Equally rewarding, though, is the sense of fulfilment gained from involvement in community service activities.

Over the years, Fung has advised social enterprises and minority groups on their business initiatives. Even as a secondary school student, she was already working as a volunteer with mentally challenged children.

“The things I have learned and gained from involvement in community service far outweigh any monetary rewards,” said Fung, who was the first woman to be chief executive of HSBC Hong Kong.

In 2015, she decided to dedicate more time to advisory roles. At present, she is an independent non-executive board member of the Airport Authority of Hong Kong,  a non-official member of the Hong Kong Housing Authority, and a member of the Museum Advisory Committee. 

She also recalled the lasting impression of a visit to Europe made as a Form 5 student.

“In the 1970s, travel to Europe was a rarity for most people in Hong Kong. What stayed with me all these years is the multiplicity of characteristics and cultures of the places I visited. In any walk of life, I believe the fundamental values of creativity, dedication, aspiration and empathy are cornerstones.”

The article was published in SCMP on 15 May 2017.


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