Lucas Chow was educated at the Hong Kong Polytechnic before coming to Aston to study Production Technology & Management. Lucas, who graduated in 1978, started his career at Hewlett-Packard where he worked for over 20 years eventually becoming the company’s head of printer division in Singapore. He subsequently held Chief Executive positions at SingTel Mobile, MediaCorp and Far East Orchard.
Lucas was a recipient of the Singapore National Day Public Service Medal in 2015 and he is currently the Chairman of the Health Promotion Board and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore. In July 2016 Lucas was awarded an Honorary Degree by Aston University.
How did you first become involved with Aston University?
When I was studying at Hong Kong Polytechnic I was really interested in automation and robotics and I was looking for a university to further my studies. I looked at several universities and Aston really stood out. It offered opportunities to further my studies in automation and I didn’t regret my decision.
Coming to Aston was exciting, it was my first experience of the UK, and actually it was the first time I had left Hong Kong. As a young person my excitement overcame any anxieties I had.
What is your fondest memory of Aston?
A couple of things really stand out. My fondest memory was joining the Riding Club, which was really quite popular. I had no opportunities in Hong Kong to do horse riding. We went horse riding in Wales in the snow, and in Hong Kong we have no snow. So this was the first time I was ever exposed to snow and to horses. But that’s only one part of it.
The other part is the industrial placement during summer vacation, which I did after my second year. I was working in Bradford in a plastics factory. That was really interesting as things are automated and I finished my final year project while I was attached to the factory.
I returned to Aston in July this year [Lucas was awarded in an Honorary Degree in July 2016], which brought back some great memories. I was looking for Dalton Tower [Dalton Tower was demolished in 2011] but I only recognised the Library and Main Building, Birmingham has also changed and really developed into a cosmopolitan city.
What has your experience at Aston given you personally?
My industrial placement allowed me to gain practical experience of working and that helped me land my first job with Hewlett-Packard. At that particular time, Hewlett-Packard was very well known for technology and it was very much an engineering company. It was almost like a dream for an engineer to work in a company like that.
After University, rather than return to Hong Kong, I came to Singapore and had a full day interview of practical exams with Hewlett-Packard. My engineering degree, my training, my industrial placement helped me to land the job. I got an offer immediately the same day. It was a great experience.
When I look back on my career that’s a very significant milestone and it set the foundation for my career subsequently. I was with Hewlett-Packard for twenty years and we did many great things. This helped launch my career into the telecommunication industry, the media company and into real estate.
What have been the most satisfying moments of your career?
The most satisfying things I have done is to work with a team of people to achieve a vision that we have set forth for ourselves.
In Hewlett-Packard days, we developed brand new products that the industry had not seen before. In the telecommunications world we did new services, new communication tools etc. People soon forget the products, as there will be something to replace that product or services, but to me, the most satisfying moments will always be achieving the vision that I set forth to do.
What do you think is Aston's greatest achievement?
Aston has done many great things over the last 50 years. The percentage of students being gainfully employed after graduating is a great achievement. It can show that the University is credible, and well-liked by employers.
During my time, the overseas students were a pretty small percentage of the students on campus. This year when I went back I could see that there was a much greater diversity of the students. This is something graduates can be really proud of and it is an international network that they can build on.
What is the best advice you can give to today’s graduates?
Being an older person, I have gone through the up and downs of life and I do have several points to share:
You have to be true to yourself and do what you really like to do. Because if you do something you enjoy, you’ll put in more time, energy and attention to it as you love doing it. Because of that you will most probably be good at it.
A lot of the people are looking for opportunities, but opportunities can also be created by yourself.
Failure is not the end. Failure is part of the process.
Last but not least, prepare to work hard. No one is going to hand things over to you on a silver platter.