Turning Crises into Opportunities with Positive Thinking
An Interview with Alumna Linda Choy Siu-min
Outstanding corporate communication professionals can help a company turn a critical crisis into an incredible opportunity. Have you ever wondered what their key to success are? Alumna Linda Choy Siu-min (Communication – Journalism), currently Corporate Affairs and Branding Director of the MTR Corporation Limited, has shared her secrets with us.
Unveil the Journey as a Journalist
After finishing her secondary school education, alumna Choy would like to join the School of Communication at HKBU as it had been renowned for its programmes and training provided. She was already impressed by the open and liberal ambience of the School during the admission interview. In retrospect of the undergraduate years, Linda is thankful for the experience she gained at HKBU, laying her a solid foundation for future career development in the industry. What was most memorable to Linda was the experience of taking up the position of the President of the student organisation Current Affairs Association, during which her sensitivity to political issues was cultivated with deeper understanding. Another unforgettable moment was engraved during her summer internship at The Standard. She recalled her assignment to cover a shipwreck incident in Hong Kong waters, which turned into a newspaper splash article when she was less than a week into her internship. “I had thought I did a pretty good job gathering my interviews and facts as an intern but my assignment editor told me I could have done better wrapping the story in our review. It was really a good training for me as a novice and I am forever grateful to the editor for re-emphasising the importance of telling a good story, in addition to news gathering.” The work of a journalist does not only offer the opportunity to get in touch with all walks of life in society, it also allows greater autonomy with the chance of displaying one’s work on the cover. All these, Linda believed, could give her a greater sense of satisfaction, and she was thus aspired to be a journalist upon graduation.
Lifelong Pursuit as Journalist
After graduation, alumna Choy joined South China Morning Post and was responsible for reporting political news of the Mainland and Hong Kong. As she got more familiar with her work, Linda started to contemplate on her path. She had once regarded journalist as her lifelong career; but at that moment, she found herself interested in developing public policies and therefore decided to apply for the Administrative Officer (AO) of the Government. This move marked a milestone of her career. Indeed, it had been challenging for Linda to transform from the work of a journalist which could be more individualistic to the government with a more collectivistic and hierarchical working culture. She elaborated, “The work of a journalist has granted me a greater sense of control, as I could decide the theme, angle and content of the news on my own. Meanwhile, the work of AO emphasises the balance among all stakeholders. I am grateful for the six years of experience as AO, which has truly widened my mindset and horizon, enabling me to analyse a matter from multiple perspectives.”
After that, alumna Choy returned to South China Morning Post as News Editor. Later on, she joined Hong Kong Disneyland, taking up the position of Director, Government Relations and Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs at different times. She had also once returned to the Government as Political Assistant to Secretary for the Environment. Demonstrating distinguished performances in the Government and large-scale corporations, Linda was appointed Corporate Affairs Director of the MTR Corporation Limited in March 2020, and she has been the Corporate Affairs and Branding Director of the Company since July 2021.
Good Recipe for Solving Problems
While Alumna Choy seems to enjoy a smooth sailing of her career journey, in shifting between different sectors of the public affairs arena she is no stranger to challenges. She believes that ebbs and flows are part and parcel of life and one should embrace challenges and tackle with positive thinking rather than shy away from them. Linda recalled a particular incident when she was Political Assistant to Secretary for the Environment when she was part of a team to push for the building of a modern sludge treatment facility. There was strong opposition against the building of what was perceived to be an obnoxious facility in the community. The team listened to the concerns, adjusted the scheme and also took to enhance the design to incorporate the concepts of environmental education, recreation and leisure. “Waste management is a subject that is close to my heart. Under the political sentiment back then, it was hard to imagine that kind of projects being able to move forward. But we have listened to stakeholders and sought to understand their concerns carefully, address them and explain our rationale and modifications.” The team then transformed the unfavourable facilities into environmental education facilities, and T·PARK has now become a prominent local attraction. Besides, Linda shared that during her career at Hong Kong Disneyland, the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle had to be closed for a period for maintenance and the fireworks show would terminate. She and her team demonstrated their superb creativity and decided to embrace the change, presenting a heartwarming finale of the castle and fireworks to the people of Hong Kong and tourists. The approach has also averted what might have turned out to be a public relations crisis.
Stay Curious and Creative
A veteran in corporate public relations, alumna Choy has a few words for young people who are keen to join the industry, “This industry offers you the opportunity to get in touch with different people and matters, thus good communication skill is fundamental. More importantly, you need to always possess your passion at work, stay curious, and be open to others’ opinions, so as to enhance communication and find out a comprehensive solution. Moreover, creativity is essential in the industry, as a creative approach could assist the company in catching the eye of the public.” Last but certainly not least, Linda recommends alumni to read The Art of Communicating by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in the hope of learning how to master positive communication skills.