- Oct 20, 2022
For Patrick Lam, the famous Chinese proverb saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” couldn’t be truer, especially when it comes to his work with Ivey in Asia.
Speaking to Faculty of Education and Faculty of Engineering graduates at Western University’s fall convocation on October 20, Lam, an esteemed Hong Kong business leader, told how his 1,000-mile journey began 25 years ago while helping to launch Ivey’s Hong Kong campus.
Lam, CEO and Executive Director of FSE Holdings and Acting Chair of the Ivey Asia Advisory Board, received an honorary Doctor of Laws at the ceremony for his business leadership and role in shaping Ivey and Western’s strategy and activity in Asia.
It was all part of Western’s 320th convocation where more than 1,900 graduates and their families will participate in various ceremonies. This includes more than 200 graduates from Ivey’s HBA, MSc, MMA, EMBA, and PhD programs who will be celebrated at a ceremony on October 21.
The birth of Ivey’s Hong Kong campus
During the ceremony honoring Lam, graduates heard how Lam facilitated important relationships in Asia for Western and Ivey, including their relationship with Henry Cheng, HBA '71, MBA '72, LLD '97. Cheng is the founding supporter of Ivey’s Hong Kong campus, the Cheng Yu Tung Management Institute, and one of the most significant donors to Ivey Asia.
While sharing lessons from his career, Lam cited his work in building Ivey’s Hong Kong campus, detailing how the small steps he took to overcome technical and operational challenges and approvals eventually paid off with the successful opening of Ivey Asia. Lam said this was a proud moment, especially since Western was the first, and is still the only, Canadian university to have a permanent campus in Asia.
An accountant by training, Lam said the engineering matters related to this initiative were completely foreign to him, but he learned much that later helped him to create an engineering company. It’s a prime example of how tackling difficult tasks and overcoming challenges can eventually lead to something even more fruitful than anticipated.
“Be prepared to help out even if the task may not be relevant or appears to be insurmountable. Every little task can lead to bigger things as there are opportunities everywhere,” he said. “Many times what seems difficult can become your most memorable experience. And often difficulties can be overcome by your persistence and determination.”
Listen and learn
Lam also discussed the importance of listening carefully to others’ perspectives and thinking outside of the box when you disagree with them to deliver viable solutions. He told how a colleague once prevented his engineering company from losing a major renovation project contract by listening to the client’s concerns about the budget and diplomatically proposing an alternative design that satisfied everyone.
“Throughout your career, you will encounter similar experiences,” he said. “Learning to listen, acknowledging differences, being empathetic, and presenting with humility can completely change an outcome.”
Sharing how he has built strong relationships with his business partners by supporting them whenever he can, Lam urged the graduates to forge and cherish friendships throughout their careers.
“Many people will help you along your career and they will do so without an ulterior motive,” he said. “Please remember to take a long-term view, be helpful when you can, and be thankful for those who have helped you.”
It’s always best to build bridges of friendship … No one has ever become poorer by helping.”
– Patrick Lam