Expert wired for future challenges
It has been all work and no play for California-based IT professional Jackie Fong. Founder of an Internet start-up in Los Angeles, Mr Fong arrived in the United States when he was 11 and has been working almost non-stop since he was 15. Sheer determination has been one his virtues although, he admits, it has not been a lot of fun.
Name: Jackie Fong Shue-wing
Position: Director of Business Development
Academic background: MBA; Bachelor's degree in computer science from University of California, Davis
Could you tell us about your career before you founded 2Link?
After graduating from university, I joined a small computer company writing database software.
A year later, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for an even smaller firm as a database application programmer.
Within a year, I landed a job as a systems analyst with a large East Coast consulting company in Long Beach, California. I was involved in the UNIX operating system there.
After two years, I switched to major financial firm Wilshire Associates in Santa Monica. It was the owner of this company who paid Russia US$20 million (HK$156 million) to be a passenger on a spacecraft earlier this year.
I started 2Link with the employer who had laid me off from my first job in California. Being a novice, I lost a lot of money and eventually the company to this guy.
Meanwhile, three friends from Wilshire and I started our own firm, 2Link Consulting. All of us were working part-time for 2Link then.
I left Wilshire in 1997 to join a growing Internet company EarthLink where I acquired all my Web-hosting and Internet knowledge and started 2Link develop in the same direction.
I worked in 2Link during the day and helped EarthLink at night, working 16 to 18 hours a day.
Why did you choose computer science?
I liked to play computer games and dreamed of being a computer games programmer.
I got tired of working in the computer field, but I continued because it pays very well.
What are the main business areas of 2Link?
It is a Web-hosting company with additional services in Web-site design and e-commerce and Web application development.
What are your main duties?
I am responsible for sales and maintaining a good relationship with customers. I still help my partners with the technical work. I like to get involved in many facets of the business.
Where does your satisfaction come from? Are there any achievements that you are proud of?
I am most satisfied when I see my customers use the services provided by 2Link to achieve their goals. My most unforgettable experience has to be the day that I finally received my Master of Business Administration degree. It took me about eight years.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
Without question, it is management. Do you know how to make everybody in the company happy at the same time? If you do, you are hired!
What is your working philosophy?
To have fun while you work. Since work takes up most of my day, it should be a fun place to go to when I wake up. As long as my staff meet deadlines, I don't mind them taking a day off to relax.
Is the business culture in California's information technology (IT) industry a disadvantage for the Chinese?
The IT industry here is very hectic. People work long hours, and sometimes, seven days a week. It is not difficult for Chinese to find work. However, it is difficult to find Chinese in higher management positions.
Chinese people don't like playing corporate politics, or maybe they don't know how to play. I remember when I was working in Wilshire Associates, the whole department was Asian except the boss himself.
Also, the dress code is casual.
How do you see the future development of this industry?
Today's Internet will simply be compared to the telephone in the near future. Instead of e-mail, people will have live interviews on TV without spending too much money and resources. In other words, whatever we have today will be tomorrow's antique.
What is your advice for young people who want to enter the industry?
Enjoy your childhood as much as you can. I see people trying to get in at a very young age. They put themselves under so much pressure that they forget about enjoying life. You can always work, but you can't stay young forever.
I started working when I was only 15 and haven't stopped since. I worked even when I was in college. There was a span of four years where I was on four different companies' payrolls. Looking back, I should have taken all those summer vacations off just to relax and travel around the world. Well, that is if I had the money to do it.