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Young people should have dreams. Set goals at every stage of life and do your best to move towards them.

Ir Eric Ma Siu-cheung, GBS, JP

Structural Engineering graduate

Awardee of Outstanding PolyU Alumni Award 2017

Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, New World Development Company Limited

“Young people should have dreams. Set goals at every stage of life and do your best to move towards them.”

“I didn’t pay much attention in class. Instead, I often stared out of the window, fascinated by the construction site next to my school. I really wanted to know how the skyscraper was built and it was this curiosity that has driven me to pursue my dream.” Ir Eric Ma Siu-cheung became interested in building and construction in his secondary school years. Little did he know at that time that he would develop his interest into a lifelong pursuit, and even more, accomplish a remarkable career. 

Eric is the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of New World Development Company Limited, a conglomerate under New World Group operating a diversified portfolio of businesses. Prior to his current role, Eric has worked in multinational engineering consulting practice and, later, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR Government”), serving as Under Secretary for Development from 2014 to 2017, followed by a stint as Secretary for Development in 2017.

Eric studied structural and civil engineering and subsequently launched his career as an engineer. He did not just focus on developing his technical acumen, but was always ready to step out of his “comfort zone” and eager to acquire new knowledge and expand his skill set. Throughout the almost 25 years working in the private sector, he took on a wide array of large-scale, multidisciplinary projects in Hong Kong and abroad, honing his leadership and communication skills along the way.

In particular, through his involvement in new town development like Shatin and Tseung Kwan O, and building projects including the Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 2 Expansion and High Speed Rail West Kowloon Terminus, Eric built his expertise in town planning, building design, land use and zoning, and at the same time, gained insights into the HKSAR Government policies. With this unique experience and his longing to give back to society, Eric joined the HKSAR Government as Under Secretary for Development in 2014. 

“At a dinner party, I was sitting next to Mr Paul Chan, the then Secretary for Development, he asked if I would like to serve Hong Kong with my expertise in land development. Facing the severe land supply problem in Hong Kong, I very much hope that I can contribute to society with my know-how,” Eric recalls.

While it has never been easy to explain government’s policies and proposals to the public, Eric stepped up to the challenge and applied the soft skills he had acquired in the private sector to his then new job. “There are lots of public engagement and lobbying to be done, but the most important thing is to always bear in mind the best interest of the public,” he adds. 

In the area of construction, where his passion lies, Eric supported the adoption of Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) technology in Hong Kong when he was the Secretary for Development.  He felt grateful that Hip Hing Construction, a subsidiary of NWS, has undertaken the construction of the InnoCell – a smart living and co-creation residence in the Hong Kong Science Park. This project taps into MiC that is designed to boost productivity by means of artificial intelligence and robotic science. 

Eric worked closely with Prof K.F. Chung to spearhead the setting up of a MiC Lab at PolyU. Working closely with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Eric wishes to harness the research strengths of PolyU to develop and promote MiC technology. “MiC helps overcome many problems we face in the construction industry, such as labour shortage and inefficiency. I trust PolyU can contribute to the advancement of this cutting-edge technology and its further application in Hong Kong,” says Eric, who is also keen to cultivate young people's interest in engineering. 

He advises students to give their all in whatever they do. “Learn as much as you can and have fun; get to know the world and be self-directed learners. Young people should have dreams. Set goals at every stage of life and do your best to move towards them.”


Publishing date: August 2020


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