Lingnan Stories

Andrew So
Programme pursued in Lingnan University: Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) 2004
Present career: Financial Controller, Kwai Hung Group

Andrew So

Good communication skills are indispensable. Honing these skills takes keen observation and practice, and learning at Lingnan has given us a good chance to practise.

Andrew So

As a firm believer of "whatever the role or task, there is always room for improvement", Andrew So keeps trying to better himself, earning trust from superiors and respect from subordinates. Given his confidence that "Lingnanians will always have each other's back and always be open to mutual dialogue", he values the chance to give back to his alma mater and has done his utmost to spearhead the growth of the Alumni Association. In his own words, he did all this out of love and conviction.

A knack for numbers

In our childhood days, whenever the family would go together to a supermarket, we probably couldn't help poking around out of curiosity or would most likely be badgering our parents to buy something. However, Andrew's idea of fun as a child was totally different. He recalled with a laugh, "While others were wondering what to buy, I had my eye on the price tags and would even work out the total cost before reaching the checkout counter." As it turned out, such sensitivity eventually evolved into a lifelong affinity with numbers. From selecting school subjects or his university major to making his career choice after graduation, accounting was always the core.

True calling revealed after a bumpy ride

While being an accountant may be regarded as a hallmark of professional standing, success can never be taken for granted. More often than not, the extreme underlying demand is beyond anyone's wildest imagination. In Andrew's case, his path to professional certification is nothing if not tortuous. Notwithstanding the punishing work schedule in his accounting job, he had to carry on with his part-time studies and to pass all the professional exams to get his professional qualifications. Andrew said, "I had to spend all my leave days preparing for the exams." It became a case of long hours in the office, no time for rest after work, and endless exam preparations. "Those were difficult times, particularly when I flunked my exams. But that's also how I came to realise this is where my true calling lies," he added. With persistent hard work and family support, Andrew finally made his dream come true. The CPA certification he received is a major triumph in life.

"Do a great job rather than a good job"

Andrew has now been promoted to the Financial Controller of a group which owns close to 50 companies, signifying another landmark in his life. In his current position, he needs to monitor the financial status of the group's subsidiaries from a macro perspective. In order to meet the group's needs as a whole, he has to devise different strategies in terms of cash flow, interest rate, foreign exchange, and investment management, etc., to ensure sound financial management. Naturally it would take time for him to adjust to this new position, given a variety of different businesses and demands within the group. Without a basic understanding of how the companies operate, it would be impossible to formulate strategies with flexibility. From being an accountant to being an FC, was it hard for him to make the adjustments? To Andrew, it is just a matter of mastering the learning curve. He explained, "Whatever your line of work, there's always something new to learn. Even after working for the same company for years, you will still find room for improvement. On the other hand, what's useful today may no longer be the case tomorrow. Complacency won't get you anywhere." Since the very first day of his career, Andrew has lived by the "mindset is everything" motto. It is this "do a great job rather than a good job" mentality that has enabled him to keep improving himself and moving closer towards his goals in life.

People skills honed from uni life

Proactive mindset aside, good communication skills have also been crucial to Andrew's professional success. He made no bones about his role in bridging the communication between his superiors and his subordinates because different thinking between the two sides is inevitable. The crux of the issue is how to make his superiors satisfied and at the same time, be able to convince his subordinates to do their job willingly. He was also quick to point out, "Good communication skills are indispensable. Honing these skills takes keen observation and practice, and learning at Lingnan has given us a good chance to practise." As one of the greatest assets he received from his university education, people skills also proved their worth once he started working. "I served as a member of the student bodies for two years in a row. For the first year, I was Chairman of the Executive Committee of Business Administration Society. For the second year, I was Chairman of the Senate of Business Administration Society and a member of the Representative Council. From this experience, I learned how to keep an open mind to different opinions. I would also put myself in other people's shoes to better understand their views. My hostel life experience taught me tolerance and ways to take care of others, which helped to improve my people skills."

Rallying fellow alumni behind alma mater

Besides a strong sense of belonging to his alma mater, the three-year education at Lingnan has created a lasting bond between Andrew and his fellow student body members, his hostel roommates, and his classmates. Being President of the Alumni Association of the Business Administration Programme, he hopes to rally Business Administration graduates from various sectors to strengthen their interpersonal networks and mutual help among fellow alumni. The Association will serve as a platform for them to give back to their alma mater. He remarked, "In work we may find ourselves in need of others' help with things beyond our expertise. The Alumni Association provides an ideal platform for exchange between our fellow alumni." According to Andrew, the Association is still in its infancy. Promotions will be launched to give alumni a better understanding of its operation and encourage them to join. Hopefully the Association will be in a stronger position to contribute to the university.