Wong finds wisdom on the greens
Ernest’s education built on finance, engineering - and golf
"Even when your swing isn’t going good, you have to forget the bad moments and think about the next stroke. Don’t worry about what has gone"
In a busy life crowded with work, as CFO of an international financial services firm as well as in vocational roles with ACCA and Hong Kong University, there is one place where Ernest Wong finds his peace on the golf course.
‘Golf is just like life, and that’s why I love it and learn from it,’ said Ernest.
‘Every round has its ups and downs. Golf teaches that you that even when your swing isn’t going good, you have to forget the bad moments and think about the next stroke. Don’t worry about what has gone. Look ahead. In that way golf is great mental training, and it is a great teacher.’
Golf is also the pursuit of constant improvement and a struggle to find the impossible – perfection in an imperfect world. That has also been the story of Ernest’s professional life, and he embraced the concept of lifelong learning from the very start.
It is a philosophy that has taken him down some interesting and unusual avenues.
After all, how many accountants take time out to study electronic engineering simply to understand the needs of high-tech investors more clearly?
‘My first degree was in finance and accounting, and immediately afterwards I set out to qualify with ACCA,’ he said. ‘It was the only choice for me. I loved ACCA’s dedication to the best CPD. It offered an incredibly broad education, and it still does, and it keeps changing. ACCA still gives me the chance to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge, even 30 years into my career.’
Ernest gained his early experience working with venture capital investment in the rapidly expanding field of technology, especially in ICT, and he was hungry to learn more about that world. That inspired him to follow an MSc in electronic engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
‘It was not easy for me,’ he said. ‘It was a totally different field and a major change in the direction of my career. But it meant I could speak as an equal to investors and technicians, to understand their business and their motivation,’ he said. ‘I could carry out due diligence from a position of some authority, and to stay on the same wavelength as the people I was working with.’
"If I can help any of my fellow accountants and ACCA members I am happy to do that"
That lust for learning has since seen him acquire masters degrees – as a bachelor of business at the University of Hong Kong, and in major programme management at Oxford University.
Now he is also eager to help the next generation of ambitious professionals in their careers.
‘In my life I owe so much to two important institutions,’ he said. ‘ACCA of course, and my alma mater, Hong Kong University. I decided I wanted to contribute more to both of them, to help others find the same opportunities that I have enjoyed.’
That resolve has led to a string of voluntary roles with HKU – most recently as a member of the Court which is part of the university’s governance – and with ACCA, first of all locally and most recently as a member of global Council.
‘I get so much satisfaction from this work, and if I can help any of my fellow accountants and ACCA members I am happy to do that,’ he said.