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photo of Mrs Betty Yuen So Siu Mai
2013 University Fellow
Mrs Betty Yuen So Siu Mai

Mrs Betty Yuen, Vice Chairman of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Company’s electricity business in Hong Kong and South China. She is also Chairman of CLP Nuclear Investment Company, responsible for CLP Group’s nuclear investment in the Chinese mainland. Prior to her appointment as the Vice Chairman of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited in 2010, Mrs Yuen was Managing Director of the company with overall responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the electric utility in Hong Kong for seven years. She was the first ethnic Chinese and the first woman appointed to this position in the company’s history.

CLP has received substantial recognition over the years under Mrs Yuen’s distinguished stewardship. Apart from being one of the leading power companies in the Asia-Pacific region, CLP has won many awards demonstrating its high standards of performance in many areas, in particular its commitment to making sustainable development its strategic priority.

Mrs Yuen received a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto in Canada. A qualified accountant, she has a strong business, management, finance and accounting background and had held a number of senior management positions in PricewaterhouseCoopers and ExxonMobil in Hong Kong and overseas.

In 2004, Mrs Yuen was the first Hong Kong person to be named the “Business Woman of the Year” in the internationally acclaimed Veuve Clicquot Award. 

Mrs Yuen is an active member in the community. In December 2011, she was elected to the Election Committee for the Chief Executive of the HKSAR under the Commercial (First) sub-sector. She has been appointed by the HKSAR Government to various committees including the Independent Commission on Remuneration for Members of the Executive Council and the Legislature, and Officials under the Political Appointment System of the HKSAR and the Manpower Development Committee. She holds various positions with business organizations. She is also an ambassador for Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign, raising funds to support education for girls in the developing world.

Mrs Yuen has staunchly supported the development of PolyU by serving on its Council from 2007 to 2013. The University has also benefitted from her sound advice and wise counsel through her participation in various committees, including the Executive Committee, Senior Executives Evaluation and Compensation Committee and the 2012/13 – 2017/18 Strategic Planning Committee.

Chairman Yang, University Council Members, President Tong and Honoured Guests,

First of all, let me express my heartfelt thanks to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for conferring upon me the honour of this Fellowship. I am both humbled and delighted.

When I was appointed the Managing Director of CLP Power HK Ltd in 2002, many people asked the question how I, as a female accountant, could become the leader of such a large utility. Some people tried searching for any family connections but could not find any. Others, after getting to know me, expressed surprise that I actually looked like a decent woman, as they were expecting a macho personality who would boss people around.  These all reflect the stereotypes our society still has about women leaders.

Hong Kong offers considerable education and job opportunities to women, and increasingly women are holding important positions in the workplace.  However, I believe our society still has a certain level of bias against successful women. Often, there are presumptions that we are difficult people to deal with at work, either very emotional or very bossy. On the personal side, we must be either old maids that no man would want to marry or terrible wives and neglectful mothers. These social pressures add a lot of stress to these women and their families, and may lead them to ask themselves whether all the hard work is worthwhile. 

I believe women have much to contribute in various sectors of our society. Many women have demonstrated strong leadership capabilities, comparable to our male counterparts. In today’s globalized world, women’s strengths in connecting and communicating with people are important attributes that can bring all of us closer together. Our world will be a better place if we can empower more women to bring out their best in whatever goals they pursue in life. 

I am grateful that I am contributing in a small way in this regard. As an employer, I try to provide family-friendly practices at work, for both male and female colleagues alike. I even encourage our female colleagues to start a family early and not to worry about taking maternity leave, often to their surprise. I am glad to be viewed by many young girls as a role model and I always encourage them to dream big and pursue what they want in life with hard work and dedication. I hope I can serve as an example to them that a woman can have a very fulfilling career, contribute to our society and enjoy a happy family at the same time. 

I must thank The Hong Kong Polytechnic University again for not only giving me such a great honour but also enabling me to learn a lot during my six years as a member of the University Council. 

Last but not the least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents and my husband for the unwavering support they have given me over the years. Without their love and care, I would not be who I am today. Thank you.

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