Financial analyst finds new route to happiness - as a bus driver with KMB

High achiever tells why he left a job in finance to follow his dream and work as a driver for KMB

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 8:18am

A successful financial analyst has set off on a new route to happiness - as a bus driver.

Gary Leung Ling-yin, 26, decided to switch careers after realising money and luxury no longer represented a fulfilled life.

He scored nine grade As in his Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination in 2003 and holds a bachelor's degree in quantitative finance.

But he left behind a manager-level analyst's job at a prestigious firm to become a full-time driver with Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB).

Leung said he was initially stunned that his story went viral after it was reported in the Chinese press last week. But he believes it struck a nerve with Hong Kong's young people. "I've started to live out my dream," said Leung, who has wanted to drive buses since he was aged two.

"Our generation is very lucky. We have enough, which is why we want to chase after our dreams."

He realised that while his work as a financial analyst was good - and while he enjoyed the environment and his colleagues - something was still missing.

So in April he quit his job and joined KMB. After 18 days of training, Leung was assigned to the 296M route - a 35 minute ride from Hong Sing Garden to the Hang Hau MTR station.

Leung hopes to try city centre routes later. But he said: "Right now I'm very happy."

He has not put a time limit on how long he will stay in the job, but admits doing it until retirement "would be harder".

He said: "Everyone has dreams. It may not be what they're doing now, and many don't have the guts to follow their dreams. I hope to inspire other people to take that step."

His story has sparked discussion online. Leung says that while he has received support from friends, there were others who criticised his decision.

Some said he came from a privileged background, which allowed him the luxury of doing what he wanted. But Leung said: "We [this generation] are very privileged - most of us have never gone hungry or run out of money for food. Having enough materially has made us more aware of what materialism cannot fulfil in our lives. I think consumerism and materialism in Hong Kong is changing. I'm happy that this has started discussion and dialogue."

Leung said bus driving was a profession that deserves respect, and challenged the mainstream attitudes that working in the financial sector, or being a lawyer or doctor, constitutes "success".

Leung said he gave up little when he switched careers.

"I earned more before, but I still have enough now," he said. "I'm also a practical person, which is why I waited until now to do this. There's very low risk right now. I don't have a family to support - I'm not married.

"I think being idealistic is good. More money does not mean more fulfilment."