My name is Eric Chak. I was born in Hong Kong. I moved to Australia at the age of 10. I went to boarding school at Churchie (Church of England Grammar School) in Brisbane. I then studied Bachelor of Business at The University of Queensland (UQ) and an MBA at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
What was the highlight of your experience living in Queensland?
I pretty much grew up in Brisbane and I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to grow up. The boarding school experience was extraordinary and has molded my values and character for life. I grew up in Hong Kong from a young age so English wasn’t my first language. I moved to Australia when I was 10 and it was very much a cultural shock. I had to emerge very quickly into the boarding school environment and learn about being “Australian” – It wasn’t just the language more so the way of life, mindset and approach to many aspects of being an Australian. Sports indeed helped with the assimilation i.e. cricket (which I had never played in my life), footy and rowing played a big role in my high school days. The kids from my boarding school were from the more remote part of Queensland, very few of them had seen an Asian person (they couldn’t tell Hong Kong from Japan and Japan from China) so it was interesting first experience for them meeting someone from Asia. The boarding school experience was tough in the beginning, but it really helped solidifying my understanding of the language and culture. This has helped me tremendously - (it may sound cliché) the sheer ability to switch between Eastern the Western mindset has laid a very strong foundation in my career going forward.
I then studied at QUT at the campus in Toowoomba. It was interesting to spend time outside of the city and meet new people.
I later studied at UQ and really enjoyed the campus experience.
How has your experience in Queensland helped you with your career?
If you make the decision to study abroad, you should put effort into assimilating and getting ingrained into the culture. I think it is important to embrace multiculturalism and not stick with your cultural comfort zone. At the end of the day, you don’t want to leave Australia only with a bachelor certificate but not the experience of living abroad. It’s crucial to make the effort understanding people from different cultural background. Our values may differ but ultimately we are all human beings and it’s important to establish common grounds when conducting business. I have worked extensively in Asia, UK, the US, this has helped tremendously in my career development.
Did you work or undertake projects with employers or industry groups during your studies? If yes, how did this experience benefit your career?
I worked at the UQ Cinema and the Pizza Pala for a couple of years during my Uni days. I also did an internship at Deloitte over summer 1997. Internships are a great way to gain hands-on professional experience. As an intern you get to work with different departments and gain a basic understanding of the operations. It gives a taste of what “work life” is about so it’s not such a shock when one eventually enters the workforce.
What career-advice would you give to give future students thinking about studying in Queensland?
Pick your course and more importantly the culture and environment of the school as it would be a community that you would be engaged in for the most crucial part of your development.
What's the easiest way to develop a social life in Queensland?
I think it is natural to look for familiarity when you move to a new place, so you may naturally want to seek out people from your home country. I think it is important to be open minded and embrace multiculturalism. Meeting people from different countries and cultures is an important part of the learning experience. It is incredibly useful. Even though I’m based in Hong Kong, I now work with people from all around the world.
What are you doing now in your career?
I moved to Sydney after I graduated from my Masters. I started my career at an architecture firm named HBO+EMTB. They are a national firm with offices in Australian and New Zealand. After about 3 years working there, I had the opportunity to work directly with the Managing Director to spearhead the regional expansion into Asia. I eventually moved to Hong Kong to set up an office and helped with the expansion in China. In 2010 I moved to a global architecture and interior design firm named M Moser Associate as the in a Regional Director to gain more global exposure, I worked intensively in China, Singapore, the US and the UK. I eventually established my own firm in mid 2017 and we now have over 25 people in our Hong Kong office plus offices in Tokyo, Singapore and China.
Why did you decide to follow you chosen career path / be an entrepreneur / work for MNC or social enterprise?
We are in the professional service industry as architects and designers. We provide a business solution for clients to improve and streamline their business operation. We create inspiring sustainable workplaces for clients to collaborate and bring the best out of their people. In addition, we view ourselves as management consultants that are passionate with this very goal in mind. It is important for me to continue this passion and the best way to sustain this vision is to create your team with like-minded individuals.
Can you share any ongoing ties to Queensland?
I have friends in Brisbane and Sydney that I visit. We might look to set up an office in Australia in the future.