WE FOCUS ON OPPORTUNITY Chris Cheung,Head of Property and Asset Management, East and Central China
Chris Cheung remembers his first day at work in JLL vividly. The sun had set and it was 7pm – more than an hour after work had ended for the day – but none of his colleagues were leaving.
In fact, they were still hard at work, with their head buried in papers and files.
As a rookie, he was unsure if he should leave. But he soon learnt that his colleagues had stayed behind not for office work but to catch up on their studies. Most of them were doing night classes on real estate studies to upgrade themselves.
“The company was highly supportive of people upgrading themselves. They encouraged it so much that each employee would get two additional days of annual leave for each examinable subject,” he says.
Investing in employees through education was JLL’s way of taking care of them. For Chris, who joined the company in 1996 with a higher diploma in public administration, it was an opportunity to get a textbook understanding of real estate and facilities management. A year later, he signed up for a degree programme as well.
Over the course of 10 years, he has gone for studies and formal training a total of four times - a bachelor’s degree in housing studies, a Master’s degree in international real estate, and two higher certificates in a related field.
“I took up the opportunity to study and I think I got addicted to it,” he says with a laugh.
Chris also believes that the company gives huge opportunities to its staff. He’s had the chance to move to different jobs in different markets.
In 2004, Chris took up an offer to move to the property and asset management business in Shanghai as an associate director. The move was a life-changing one, for it was in Shanghai that he met his Taiwanese wife.
“It’s funny when you think about it. A Hongkonger goes to Shanghai and meets a Taiwanese woman,” he says.
He stayed in that role till 2007, before leaving the company to gain a different perspective.
He tried his hand investing in infrastructure in China and worked with another real estate company. He returned to JLL in 2015, armed with new experience, including how to position JLL in its Chinese markets.
“You gain a different perspective when you have spent some time outside. And I thought about how I could use what I have learnt to help JLL push through boundaries,” he says.
In 2016, the property and asset management team in east and central China posted one of their best results ever, capturing eight in 10 of all available opportunities on the market. It was a culmination of the work done by the team, with Chris at the helm.
In January this year, Chris was also given an added role of business development director – a newly-created role – in the China office. This means he travels frequently within China to seek out opportunities for JLL.
“I sometimes think that I’m a very lucky person. The company really invests in its employees and I work in a great team. These mean a lot to me,” he says.
“When I talk about my life, I can’t not mention JLL. It is such an integral part of my experience - it even led me to my wife!”
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