By Kenneth Kwok
Roland Wong, Managing Director of Thing On Group, speaks to Kenneth Kwok about creating a legacy, one impactful step at a time
When thinking of a Hong Kong-based young entrepreneur, investor, and leader who can talk the talk and walk the walk, a certain name quickly came to mind.
As Managing Director of Thing On Group Limited, Roland Wong has been active in supporting a broad range of companies in addition to community-oriented social impact and sustainability initiatives, both through his family office holdings company, and the Wong Chak Chui Charitable Foundation.
In this interview, Wong sat down with me to discuss his investment philosophies, his key learnings gained from the COVID-19 crisis, and his efforts in promoting sustainable development through his business.
KK: Roland, thank you once again for joining Jumpstart for this session.
RW: Thank you for having me. It is my pleasure.
KK: What was the key driving force behind you becoming a supporter of social impact initiatives and businesses.
RW: I was inspired by my father, Richard, who founded a charitable foundation named after my late grandfather, The Wong Chak Chui Charitable Foundation, which actively participates and sponsors charity projects across various fields including education, medical research and other innovative technological research for the betterment of society. I wish to continue this legacy to help people and businesses to create a positive and sustainable impact in the world.
KK. Legacy indeed is an important aspect of Asian families. With all the work that WCC Foundation and Thing On has done within the Hong Kong community since COVID-19 began, what is the most important thing you have learned or gained, both on a personal and a spiritual level?
RW: I believe in helping people and businesses in need at the most critical times, especially when we have the resources to do so. I have learned that helping and giving not only connects us to others, but also creates strong communities and a strong sense of social responsibility among us. On a spiritual level, helping the community has brought me creativity, motivation, and vision that I can carry over into my personal and professional life.
KK: For your investments, how do you generally decide which sectors to focus your investments in? Are there any tips you can share with potential entrepreneurs from the Hong Kong ecosystem who might be seeking your support?
RW: I believe in investing in sectors that bring positive impact into people’s lives. That could be technology investments that have revolutionized our world and made our lives easier, faster and better, or medical investments that use cutting-edge innovation to cure illness and make healthcare more affordable for the general public.
As Young SDG Advocates, we have both committed to increasingly adopting ESG and socially responsible investing into our investment decisions. I believe this will lead to better-informed investment decisions, and provide better returns in the long-term.
KK: In the Decade of Action, we are glad that you’re helping to lead the wave of impact investors incorporating ESG principles and social responsibility into their decision making. From what you have seen so far, do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
RW: Entrepreneurship is never meant to be easy. One must overcome many difficulties before reaching their goals, and therefore I believe there is no one formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur. However, I do believe that successful entrepreneurs share some common characteristics, including but not limited to being passionate about what they do, having the right attitude, being hardworking, and persevering throughout.
KK: Now, let us pivot a bit to explore you, Roland, on a more personal level. We often find that all successful next-generation leaders are very self-aware. For you, if there is one wish you could be granted to further a personal dream, what would that be?
RW: Good question. If I had one wish, I would wish to speak more languages. This is because language is a powerful tool in communication, especially in today’s world where many different cultures exist. Effective communication could overcome cultural differences and differences in perception and viewpoint. If I could speak more languages, I would reach out to more people and communities, and help to connect them in hope of a more united world.
KK: This brings me to our last question. Looking forward, as we welcome United Nations and its 75th Anniversary, will your company undertake a new initiative related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?
RW: Yes, it will. My Company has long believed in Good Health and Well-Being, and Quality Education, which correspond to UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4. We’ve been taking action on these beliefs through our investments and donations in these areas.
Looking forward, I hope to continue my endeavors toward these goals and am looking to undertake a new initiative under Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. I believe in enhancing scientific research and upgrading the technological capabilities of industrial sectors for the advancement of sustainable economic development.
KK: Health. Education. Innovation. For those of you reading this interview, if you have great startups in these three industries, you now know whom to speak with. Roland, it has been an absolute pleasure doing this interview with you. Thank you for your passion, insights, and most importantly, the commitment to create a more impactful and sustainable world for the next-generation. We look forward to many fantastic and exciting developments coming from you in the future.
About the Author
Kenneth is the Founder and CEO of Global Citizen Capital, an impact-oriented healthcare, biotech, logistics, technology and education focused multi-family office investment venture based out of Hong Kong. Kenneth has worked 15 years in the finance industry, serving as the CIO to a large Chinese listed conglomerate as well as a financial professional at UBS AG and Deutsche Bank.
He is passionate about social impact work through his Better Together Foundation, which supports youth entrepreneurship related initiatives across Asia, and about health and well-being through his Co-President role at Asia World Anti-Aging and Well-Being Association (“AWAWA”). He is a UN SDG Accelerator Labs Mentor as well as UPenn/Wharton alumni interview chair.