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Chiew-Foong (CF) Kwong

Dr Chiew-Foong (CF) Kwong is a man who lives by strong moral and ethical principles. His uncompromising approach to life and work resulted in him winning our 2020 Core Values Award (CVA) for Integrity.

CF has a BEng degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and an MSc in Personal, Mobile and Satellite Communications from the University of Bradford, UK.

He has more than 20 years’ teaching experience in higher education under his belt, mainly in the field of mobile and satellite communications, and he has completed a wealth of research into heterogeneous networks and mobility management for Long-Term Evolution and 5G. In 2015 he was awarded a PhD in Mobile Communication by the Multimedia University, Malaysia.

CF has been working at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China for five years. His dual role combines Faculty Director of Admission and International Relations with Assistant Professor in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Empowerment

CF’s volunteer journey started in 2006 when he joined the IET Malaysia Local Network (LN). He was soon elected as a committee member and immersed himself in supporting the aims of the IET.

In 2008 he was elected as Chair of the Young Professionals section of the LN. During his two-year tenure, he increased the number of student chapters (On Campus groups) from five to 11.

He said: “I noticed that when young engineers are empowered, encouraged and supported, they come up with exciting and creative ideas. That realisation really motivated me then and it continues to motivate me when working with university students in my current role.”

Professionalism

As a young academic, CF learned a great deal by mixing with other IET members, He said: “I recognised the importance of professional registration, in terms of industry recognition and the ability to practise professionally.

“One of the most important lessons was not to view the client as the source of your income but as the source of your reputation. Engineering is all about your professional reputation. If you go to court, your credibility will be questioned – but if you’re chartered, the law is more likely to listen to you.”

Through his prolific volunteer activities and his ever-widening professional network, CF also came to realise that being an engineer is about far more than academic qualifications. He said: “As an engineer, you need certain skills that you might not necessarily learn at university, like how to manage a team and how to maintain your professional integrity during client negotiations.”

Ethics

CF doesn’t shy away from difficult ethical decisions, including in his IET volunteer roles as Professional Review Interviewer and International Professional Registration Advisor. “If ever I’m asked to interview a candidate whose relations I know, I don’t hesitate to decline because going ahead would place me in a compromising position,” he said.

“The thing about integrity is that you must always trust your own judgement. If I’m interviewing a candidate who has English as a second or third language, sometimes they wrongly interpret the question because the words have another meaning in their mother tongue. If I believe this to be the case, I keep probing until I’m satisfied that they understand the request and have an opportunity to demonstrate their engineering competence.”

CF does his utmost to give all deserving candidates the best possible chance to succeed. He said: “During a candidate interview, I’ll always be very straightforward, friendly and honest. Even with a very senior candidate, if their answer doesn’t convince me, I’ll ask them to provide another example – something that demonstrates real engineering practice, like managing a team and a budget.

“Being part of the assessment process is a big responsibility. I know that many candidates have invested a lot of effort, time and money in working towards professional registration, but I don’t let that influence me. I don’t feel guilty when my assessment report contributes to a candidate being unsuccessful, because I have a duty to safeguard the future of the engineering profession.”

In his IET Academic Accreditor (AA) role, CF works tirelessly to conduct credible reviews of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes submitted for accreditation. He said: “Sometimes I find myself dealing with documents containing sensitive information that must not be shared with anyone else, so I never take my work laptop to audit visits.”

“I use my personal laptop instead, to make sure I’m operating within a controlled space. And after the audit report has been submitted to the AA committee, I delete every single trace of the documents from my laptop and my electronic storage, to prevent the information from falling into the wrong hands.”

Respect

CF is a highly collaborative professional who listens to and respects contributions from his fellow volunteers.

“There is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth – we should listen twice as much as we speak,” he said. “It’s important to listen first and let people finish before speaking. It’s a question of manners, but it’s also about giving people the opportunity to present themselves.”

He applies this principle frequently in his role as a member of the IET Registration & Standards Committee. “We have oversight of many important IET committees, including Fellowship Policy, Academic Accreditation, Professional Development Operations and the Registration Group. We’re also responsible for developing and maintaining the benchmark standards that individuals and schemes are assessed against.

“We have to work as a team. I listen carefully to what others are saying and when I contribute to the discussion, I usually make sure I present a middle-ground view.”

Integrity

As you’d expect of a man who has just won the IET’s coveted CVA for Integrity, CF has strong views about what constitutes integrity. “It’s what defines a person and whether they can be trusted, professionally and personally,” he said.

“It’s something that can’t be taught; it has to be experienced. It’s about speaking out against questionable practices and cutting corners; refusing to compromise, and hanging onto your principles, even when you’re losing and your career is on the line. That’s the acid test.

“That’s integrity – it won’t make you rich, but it will give you peace of mind and earn you the respect of your peers.”

 

If you’d like to explore how you can engage with IET volunteering, please contact volunteer@theiet.org