China’s Billboard King
University of Sydney and University of New South Wales graduate, Mr Vincent Lam, is the winner of this year’s Austrade Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship. He spoke to Sophie Loras about his achievements as the Founder and Chairman of ASIARAY Group.
Vincent Lam was born in Hong Kong and is an alumnus of the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) majoring in Computer Science and a Master of Commerce majoring in Professional Accountancy.
After living in Sydney for 15 years, Mr Lam returned to Hong Kong where he became the founder and chairman of the ASIARAY Group, the largest airport media operator in China.
ASIARAY covers over 30 key cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou with recent expansion into transit systems in Hong Kong, including the MTR and Star Ferry.
In 2008, ASIARAY recorded a remarkable revenue growth of nearly 200 percent, to a combined turnover of RMB605 million.
Having benefited from a scholarship when he studied in Australia, and as a successful Australian-Chinese businessman, Mr Lam remains passionate about sharing his core values of integrity, innovation, passion and the importance of education with the winder community.
Mr Lam is the founder of LAM KWUN KING MEMORIAL FUND – a charity solely funded by ASIARAY to help children fulfil their dreams of studying at school and university in Yunnan, China. Mr Lam’s mission for the charity is not simply poverty relief, but also building children’s self-esteem. This position he says, was influenced by his education in Australia where equality and independent thinking are intertwined in the culture and education system.
Since 2008 Mr Lam also brought in volunteer Australian ophthalmologists to perform cataract and glaucoma surgeries (close to 200 cases per year) in Yunnan province in conjunction with other charitable organisations.
Mr Lam remains strongly connected to the University of Sydney, initiating in 2005, and becoming the Patron of, The University of Sydney’s China Alumni Network.
His professional and philanthropic successes have led to numerous awards and accolades including, in 2009, the title of ‘The Top 10 most Influential Media Operator in China’. In 1992, Mr Lam was appointed Justice of the Peace by the NSW Government in recognition of his work in strengthening national ties between Australia and China. Vincent is also an active member of Hong Kong Rotary Club Island West, and is currently serving as committee member of the 2007 Theme Year Working Party of the Hong Kong Management Association.
Vincent LamFounder and Chairman, ASIARAY Group
UNSW / The University of Sydney
Winner: Austrade Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship.
During my honours year at Sydney University, I developed such a strong attachment to the university. The first three years were just course work but in the fourth year – my honours year – I was initially not used to such a study environment. I still expected exams and course work. This honours year changed my perspective – I had to find a problem and solve it with the relevant research. And it is the same in business – you have a problem, you devise your way forward and slowly and gradually you implement it.
In an Asian environment we tend to sit together all the time and the peer group pressure is very high. In the beginning with my studies in Australia I had the same problem sticking with the other Chinese students and doing similar things together. I was amazed with my local Australian friends who usually had their own independent thinking and not following the crowd. As times went by I grew to be more independent and self confident. This experience became very valuable later on when I started my own business. My thinking and judgement are usually not the same as my other peers. It is this “dare to be different” attitude that gave me the courage to surf through the problems in building this outdoor advertising business when this industry throughout the world was still in its infancy 17 years ago.
Also, from my education in Australia I discovered the importance of philanthropy. The Australian experience has made me more thankful to the things I have received and I feel we still owe something back to society and this is an inference I got from my study in Australia – to be concerned with your neighbour.
I’m honoured to receive this award, it has meant a great deal to me. ■
*Picture: Vincent Lam with fellow Chinese students during a ski trip while studying in Australia in the ’80s.
To read more about the winners of the 2010 Australia China Alumni Association Awards, click here.
For more information about the Australia China Alumni Association and for the full list of 2010 Australia China Alumni Award finalists, visit: www.austchinaalumni.org