Ken Cheung CEng FIET recalls attending the lectures of his university professor, Dr HW Ngan, and being struck by a particular topic ‘Society and the Engineer’.
“I learnt about the public’s expectations of engineers and became very aware of the responsibilities that an engineer must shoulder,” he says. Ken was interested in a professional life with purpose and challenges, so he says: “At that moment, I decided that engineering was to be my chosen career.”
“My professor continued to be a mentor to me and provide guidance during my early career,” he says. Even as a student, Ken was aware that Dr Ngan’s Fellowship was something to aspire to. “I saw it as a prestigious status,” he says. “One that is an important milestone in an engineer’s career and professional development.”
Progressing in the power industry
Ken’s decision to pursue engineering (and IET Fellowship) launched him into a varied career in the power industry with CLP — Hong Kong’s largest power utility.
He started at the company as a graduate trainee, rotating around the departments and learning about the different aspects of power systems engineering.
“Through hands-on experience, I gained insights into important areas of the modern power system,” he says. “These included system review in distribution planning and design, risk assessment in construction, system reliability considerations in operation and maintenance and much more.”
After his training, Ken moved into roles which required his technical insights. From Assistant Engineer, he worked his way up to Engineer Team Leader in the Asset Development team.
In this role, he was responsible for recommending and implementing a power equipment sourcing strategy, which was essential for a reliable, cost-effective power supply to CLP’s 2.3 million customers (representing over 80% of Hong Kong’s population).
It was a big challenge, with a project contract value of $1bn HKD and resources for CLP’s power supply at stake, but Ken succeeded. “After tough negotiation with various suppliers, my team recommended a strategy that contributed to CLP’s reliable, secure and cost-effective power supply,” Ken says.
After a stint as Deputy Chief Engineer, managing six Pressurized Water Reactor units in three nuclear power plants, Ken was promoted to Deputy General Manager of Guangdong Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. Limited (a joint venture for CLP).
He now has fewer technical, but more leadership responsibilities. “My role focuses more on the executive managerial areas such as finance, general management, contributing to strategic direction and representing company management internally and externally,” Ken says.
Supporting early career engineers
While progressing his career, Ken still made time to support early career engineers, just as he had been supported by his professor.
“I have been a professional development mentor for more than seven years, offering advice to engineering undergraduates,” he says. “I have also served as an IET International Professional Registration Advisor (IPRA) for more than five years, regularly delivering public seminars and providing one-to-one guidance to engineers who want to become professionally registered.”
Recognised as a role model
In July 2018, at the age of 36, Ken achieved IET Fellowship, which recognised his impressive mix of professional and voluntary achievements. He sees it as part of “behaving as a role model for young professional engineers and upholding true professionalism in terms of competence, responsibility and integrity.”
His plans are to continue in his voluntary roles supporting early career engineers, while also being open to new opportunities. “I’d like to bring my insights and experience to IET boards and committees,” he says. “I’m also looking forward to meeting other Fellows and exchanging ideas and experiences that broaden my horizons.”
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