The term “slashie” is becoming popular nowadays, to describe multi-faceted individual forging multiple career paths. VTC alumnus, Cr Sr Tang Chi Wang, is a representative of “slashie” in the professional sector. Along with being a construction manager and surveyor, he also holds a Bachelor Degree in Law, a Master Degree in Public Administration, and other professional identities as an accredited mediator, an arbitrator, etc. In addition, he is the youngest President of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction Managers, and a member of the Building, Civil Engineering and Built Environment Training Board of VTC. His multiple roles keep him busy in both work and private life.
Some shared with Tang that learning life is unlimited and persuade him not to keep going. However, he believes that learning new knowledge not only adds value to his career, but also helps his understanding to worldly wisdom and communication. Named as “Master Chi Wang” by his friends, Tang really sounds like a master.
Taking a glance at Tang’s rich academic background and qualifications, it is hard to imagine that he had described himself as “having not too much connection with study”. Tang said that when he was a child, his academic results were good. He then studied at a famous secondary school, but it was a rough patch in his life. He described, “I grow up from the grassroots and studied in a primary school using Chinese as medium of instruction. I found difficulties by using English as medium of instruction in my secondary school. So, I had to change to a vocational school after secondary 3.”
He got five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination. However, he still worried about his future. As his elder brother studied architecture, he then followed his footprint and applied Diploma in Building Studies offered by VTC. He smiled and said, “I once thought that it would be an advantage to follow my brother. I hope that if I come across any problems in my study, he could help. However, he didn’t helped actually!” Fortunately, it is never too late to work hard. After graduation, Tang was appointed as Works Supervisor of the Housing Department. He then studied the Higher Diploma in Surveying at evenings while doing the job at daytime. After a few years, he quitted the civil service job resolutely for pursuing a bachelor's degree in the United Kingdom with the money that he earned from work.
Construction Manager - a cross-sector profession
Initially, Tang started to progress on his study because of actual need in career. He wanted to attain the professional qualification as a surveyor, to leap forward from technical to a professional level. Later, on his path of further study, Tang aimed higher and further. He wanted to meet with the requirement of socio-economic environment and cope with future needs. In 2001 and 2004, he studied the Certificate Programme on Advance Mediation Training and the Postgraduate Diploma in Arbitration. With regard to mediation, he was one of the earliest batch of graduates of that course in Hong Kong. He said, “In construction work, there may be many disputes in contracts of construction projects. It would be time-consuming if we bring them to court every time. For this reason, I have studied a law degree and related courses, to enrich my knowledge of laws and alternative dispute resolutions.”
One of Tang’s core professions is a Construction Manager. What is the role of a construction manager? This profession is like a director in a movie or theater. He is the leader of the entire construction project. He needs to have the expertise about the construction industry, understand contract clauses and Buildings Ordinance, familiar with project planning and construction process, and also safety and environmental matters etc., and to assure the successful completion of the project. He added, “Therefore, the construction managers in Hong Kong have cross-sector professional knowledge. In fact, about 40% of the members of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction Managers possess the professional qualifications as architects, engineers or surveyors.”
In 2012, Tang formally established his own company. Combining his expertise in engineering and law, he took over the work of expert witness. When there are disputes in construction projects and have to put the case in court, he will be responsible for providing professional reports to the court. Tang said frankly that it was regarded as a difficult task in the industry. He explained, “As it demands a high degree of meticulousness and caution, and the judge’s evaluation of report will affect your reputation in the industry, so the pressure is great.” But Tang is still happy to take up the challenge.
Start a business to become a “volunteer”
Tang expressed that he chose to set up his own business because he wanted to have job satisfaction, as well as the flexibility to arrange time for things he enjoys, such as to involve in public service of different institutions. He was elected as the President of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction Managers two years ago, and just stepped down from the position in December 2018. He is currently the Chairman of Board of Examination of the Institute. In addition, he is the member of the Building, Civil Engineering and Built Environment Training Board (BCBTB) of VTC, the Adjudicator of the Immigration Tribunal and the member of the Private Columbaria Appeal Board, etc. He said that he spent half of his time to run his own company, and the other half to take up different public service positions.
These public positions are partly related to the construction field, while some of them are completely different. Tang said that his enthusiasm for public service work was due to his curiosity about different professions and social affairs. He explained, “Participating in public service is like going further study, it can broaden horizons. Having meetings to get in touch with staff of the Correctional Services Department, doctors, lawyers, you will find different professional people have different traits and values. For example, lawyers have hair-splitting mentality, social workers are good at inculcation... I love to meet friends from different walks of life and enrich my life experience.” These different public services also paved the way for him to complete the master’s degree in Public Administration. He was also invited to serve as an Independent Non-Executive Director of a listed company in Hong Kong.
Another surprise that these public services brought to him was refreshing his memory of his study in VTC. He understood that the path to professional education was not a low-priority choice, but another valuable opportunity. He shared, “The BCBTB has once arranged a visit to Germany for its board members. Actually, many advanced countries attach equal importance to vocational education and training, compared to traditional academic education. In Hong Kong, as long as students are willing to study hard and cherish every learning opportunity, they can still become technicians, and then take up professional or managerial roles in future.