One-woman training brand
Virginia Choi has come a long way since her United Christian Hospital (UCH) roots, where she worked in community relations (CR), offering social services, community mental health education and, eventually, into human resources (HR), focusing on staff training - the profession where she is now an industry leader.
She started out when the city's training industry was in its infancy. Choi, then 18 years old, went to the Social Welfare Department to enrol in its then professional standard for social workers, a two-year Certificate in Social Work.
She successfully applied for a social work position there but realised she was under-qualified, as all the other members of her team had university qualifications. So she topped up her qualifications at evening school.
Following a one-year Certificate in Personnel Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic (now PolyU), she was the only student in the class of 40 with a social work background.
Choi changed career track by at first volunteering in the UCH training department. When a departmental vacancy arose, Choi was invited to apply, and got it.
After seven years at UCH, Choi returned to school to improve her long-term career prospects.
She also joined the Hong Kong Institute of Personnel Management, now the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resources Management (HKIHRM).
Choi set her sights on a degree in social work at Hong Kong Polytechnic. But when she graduated in 1985, there were few opportunities for employment.
So she returned to training, taking up a position of family life educator at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG), conducting courses on mental health in Tai Po.
Two-and-a-half years later, she made a bold move into banking, assuming the position of training manager, team leader of the management development department at the Bank of China Group.
Eventually, headhunters lured Choi to retailer G2000. She assumed the position of retail staff development manager responsible for employee relations and staff training. Eighteen months later, she made an even bigger move - to the role of vice-president in the regional training and development department of Chase Manhattan Bank.
In 1992, Choi was appointed chairwoman of the IHRM training and development committee. From 1998 to 2000, she served as HKIHRM vice-president, and in 2001, was voted the institute's first female president.
Choi says she never plotted her career. 'I am aggressive but not ambitious. I have never planned my career, but when the opportunity arose, I took it.'
Choi eventually set up Tamty McGill, a management consultancy that is active today in Hong Kong, the mainland and the region. Choi is a training brand in her own right, with a formidable track record.