Dollars and sense

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am

how they got where they are today


Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu partner in charge of Hong Kong Audit

METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING, I always believe in keeping a handful of sunshine in my pocket for those times when things get tough. My reserve of sunshine is not just for me; I am not afraid to share it with my colleagues and those who may need it.

We work in a demanding business where deadlines are frequently tight and there is more than a little regulatory pressure.

Those who join the industry soon discover there are no easy rides but that is not to say there are no highlights, either. Part of my job as a partner is to guide my team, support them but also let them discover their own ways of getting the job done, providing the job is done properly.

I learnt a long time ago that no matter how good you think you are, or how clever or how dedicated you are to your job, you can never do everything alone. There is always the need to delegate.

How you delegate is another matter. I believe a lot of people management is by trial and error, but I do try to recognise and utilise people's skills and build on these strengths. Through delegation it is possible to build a strong team spirit and build a bond between people who can get things done.

Personally, I try to maintain a calm mindset and avoid tension. The work needs to be done anyway, so why put pressure on myself and those around me? I do not view being calm as necessarily being a great strength, but it is a useful management skill.

Probably the most important fundamental thing I have learnt over the years is to respect people. No matter what your position is within a company, little can be achieved both professionally and personally without respect. This includes both giving it and earning it. I see it as part of my job as a partner to help create an atmosphere where respect is nurtured and blossoms.

I believe respect can be shown in many ways and one of the simplest is to actually talk to colleagues face-to-face or by phone instead of e-mailing them. The impersonal language of e-mail pales in comparison to talking to a person and reading their body language.

Of course, communication by e-mail is a huge part of our business, but it is picking those times when you know that by talking to someone it will make a difference.

These days, people often work incredibly long hours and at the same time talk about achieving a work-life balance. I do not believe there is any such thing as work-life balance; one is always out of sync with the other.

By example, I encourage my colleagues to aim for a work-life harmony. This means they know and accept that on some occasions they will need to work long hours and on other occasions they should make the most of their leisure and family time.

I have worked for the same company for more than 20 years, ever since I left Hong Kong University.