VTC alumnus Eddie Lam Kin-wing, chartered surveyor and chartered builder, is truly a visionary leader of leaders within the local construction and engineering industries. Currently the Chairman and Executive Director of Thelloy Development Group Limited, a company listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Sr Lam also holds countless public offices, including the President of the Hong Kong Construction Association, the Honorary President of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction Mangers, as well as the former Chairman of the VTC Building, Civil Engineering and Built Environment Training Board for many years. In 2021, VTC conferred an Honorary Fellowship upon Sr Lam, in recognition of his unremitting support and profound contribution to the construction industry and in the realm of vocational and professional education and training. Dressed neatly in a tailored suit, the bright-eyed gentleman has always cared deeply about the welfare of workers within the construction sector. When asked about his key to success, he modestly replied, “I don’t consider myself successful. In fact, I experienced failures many times.” Even in the midst of difficulties, Sr Lam keeps learning humbly and transforming his failures into invaluable assets.
Professional and academic pursuits at the same time
Sr Lam’s illustrious career started from modest beginnings in 1970s. He worked full time early on as an apprentice on a construction site. Meanwhile, he was enrolled in the Ordinary Certificate in Building Studies so that he attended classes at Morrison Hill Technical Institute (the predecessor of IVE Morrison Hill) four nights every week. After graduation, Sr Lam kept on learning part-time while working full time, accumulating professional experiences while pursuing academic knowledge. He climbed the hierarchal ladder steadily as he was promoted to quantity surveyor and became an official member of the Chartered Institute of Building of the U.K. and the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors later on. His years of practical experiences in quantity surveying made him the perfect candidate to take charge of project tenders. Ultimately, he was promoted to the upper management.
In 1995, Techoy Construction Company Limited approached Sr Lam and offered him the position of a director. Under his astute stewardship, Techoy gradually flourished and expanded its business. Based on Techoy’s success, he founded Thelloy Development Group, which was listed on the GEM board (Growth Enterprise Market) of Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) in 2015. Two years later, Thelloy was listed on the main board of Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Learning from experience; be it success or failure
Despite his capacities as the Chairman of a listed company and the numerous public offices he holds, Sr Lam doesn’t consider himself successful. “I’ve worked in many different industries, including jewellery, and food and beverage. I also started several factories. All these pursuits ended up in failures, but the experiences I earned amid difficulties had become my invaluable assets. In addition to learning about how various industries work, and how to communicate with different people, I also mastered the way to deal with ups and downs in different sectors. People love looking back on their success stories. But in fact, you can also contemplate the secret key to success by learning from your mistakes and failures to refine your thinking skills, and by being prepared always.” With self-betterment and perseverance amid adversity, Sr Lam has made himself an outstanding leader in the construction industry.
Eyes on the future, giving back to society
Throughout the decades he spent in the industry, Sr Lam firmly believes that his achievements are underpinned by support from society, so he embraces the idea of giving back for good causes. On top of running a business, an enterprise must also shoulder social responsibilities. He said, “Thanks to the trust the public has placed in my corporation, we have completed one project after another that improves people’s livelihood and helps the society make progress. In terms of giving back to the society, I share the same philosophy with my industry comrades – we sow seeds that drive the sustainable development of the society. For seeds to germinate and grow, they need proper soil and environment. In the same line of thought, Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) has strived to build a platform that promotes pioneering concepts and revolutionises the industry culture in recent years, in hopes of establishing positive ethos within the industry and helping the seeds of change to grow.”
Sowing the seeds of innovation
According to Sr Lam, one of such seeds is sowed to promote the concept of environmental, social and governance (ESG) in the construction industry, so as to cope with future developments in this regard. HKCA approved a budget of HK$10 million to launch the ESG Recognition Scheme, in a view to encourage building contractors to incorporate ESG practices in site management. Under the Scheme, contractors are encouraged to build blockchain platforms and ESG databases, with subsidies for applying innovative technologies on construction sites. Contractors also have chances to formulate their strategies and roadmaps to reduce waste and carbon footprint. Alongside the Scheme, a smartphone app and a reward programme were also launched simultaneously to galvanise practitioners on different levels into actions that promote ESG awareness. By partaking in such activities they are exposed to experiences like reducing plastic bottle use on construction sites, practising ESG ethos in daily operations, and sharing how such practices contribute towards the sustainable development of society. Sr Lam believes this seed can thrive on a fertile piece of soil, adding values to the industry continuously. He hopes the efforts he makes today will bring a bountiful harvest to the next generations in future, as a testimony to the benefits of sustainable social development.
Another seed sowed is the HKCA Construction Safety Fund (CSF). With CSF, HKCA aims to provide financial incentives for industry stakeholders to develop innovative safety solutions, so as to drive the development of smart construction sites, and elevate safety standards in general. The Fund covers preliminary safety designs, safety awareness among workers, in a bid to protect workers’ life, making the construction industry safer, better and more professional. Sr Lam believes innovative technologies are not castles in the sky, and many creative solutions are realistic and attainable. By incorporating new technologies and tools that have been widely adopted by the industry in recent years, such as modular integrated construction (MiC) and building information modelling (BIM), HKCA leverages CSF to allocate resources on cultivating an innovative industry culture and driving the smart transformation of the construction sector.
Pooling ideas, coordination of various parties
Sr Lam also has another important mission – to reflect the opinions of the industry and to propose solutions to the government regarding the labour shortage in the construction sector. As the government allocates more resources on infrastructure and large-scale construction projects such as the Northern Metropolis Plan, the demand for construction workers on various levels has been on the rise. He admitted that certain trades in the industry have been facing labour shortage for quite some time. HKCA keeps on advocating the revision of labour policies, urging the easing of restrictions on importing foreign labour for trades that have been short-staffed for prolonged periods, so as to reduce project delays caused by labour shortage and the inability to cope with construction procedures. On behalf of HKCA, Sr Lam mediates between the government and the workers, coordinates with all parties for a balance of their interests, in hopes of reaching a consensus as soon as possible.
Retaining talent, encouraging exchanges
Labour shortage doesn’t just happen among frontline positions, but also among back-end support and management level. Sr Lam noticed that the turnover rate among younger managers has been significantly higher. For talent retention, he thinks one should start with their “hearts” – let young people see for themselves the promising prospect of the industry and the opportunities for their career to take off. They would then derive a sense of purpose and accomplishment from work and develop enthusiasm. Also leave them with enough time and energy so that they can pursue their dreams after work and lead a happy life. That’s how you make a job appealing to young people. In addition, he also encourages the exchange of talents between the mainland and Hong Kong. That would facilitate the discovery of each other’s strengths, the exchange of experiences and technologies, and the enrichment of each other’s lives. An example would be the young people in the Greater Bay Area, whose hardworking spirit and ambition are worthy of appreciation and learning.
Joining forces with the industry for prosperity
With far-reaching vision and unremitting diligence, Sr Lam has a distinguished career in the construction industry for decades. Yet, he still humbly claims he hasn’t yet achieved success. He believes the seeds that he sowed to revolutionise the industry still have a long way to go and he’s not looking for immediate returns. It’s because “if we don’t do it today, we won’t see any results years later.” He hopes that the industry will uphold the concept of sustainable development, keep on contributing to the society, and promote the economic prosperity of Hong Kong.