Boundless enthusiasm, perseverance and a searing intellect are just a few of the qualities that have made Christine Loh Kung-wai stand out from the crowd. After successful careers in business and politics, Loh has become a leading voice in the public policy sphere, particularly when it comes to the environment.
She says her biggest inspiration is the realisation that she can do something that has an impact on others and society. 'This is such a privilege that I don't want to squander opportunities. Knowing there is a list of good things to do every day inspires me,' she says. 'I look forward to getting up every morning.'
Loh is CEO of Civic Exchange, an independent non-profit think tank she co-founded more than a decade ago, something she considers one of her greatest professional accomplishments.
Producing high-quality public policy research is no small feat in Hong Kong, she says, and seeing the organisation's work being read, quoted and considered is a source of personal satisfaction.
For Loh, one of the biggest obstacles is she simply doesn't have enough time to embrace all the opportunities that arise, so she has to choose and prioritise.
'I am greedy and always want to bag more of them but with age, my energy level is not what it used to be and so I am forced to slow down,' she says.
Loh holds appointments at many universities, think tanks and charitable organisations in Hong Kong and abroad, and also sits on the board of directors of public companies.
Educated in Hong Kong and Britain, Loh was a high-flying business executive before she launched herself into politics when she was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1992. She ran successful campaigns in 1995 and 1998, and championed many issues as a politician including the successful reform of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, access to information, rural land inheritance rights for the indigenous women of the New Territories, equal opportunity legislation and the historic Protection of the Harbour Ordinance.
Loh says she has learned that every experience is useful. People just need to understand what lessons there are from each experience, she adds. 'The most basic skills are the most useful - these are the ability to listen, comprehend, restate, deliberate, speak well and write well,' Loh says. 'These skills are useful both in my professional and personal life because they are the basic thinking, feeling and communication tools for all occasions. They can be learnt and honed.'
The critical qualities for successful female leaders, she says, are to be clear about what you want to do, why you want to do it, be able to state it clearly in speech and the written word and know how to achieve the greatest good.
Asked what advice she has for aspiring young women in public policy and philanthropy, Loh says they need a broad education and diverse interests. Young women looking to establish a career should also remain curious about a wide variety of things. As for her own principles in life, Loh says they are simple - be nice, be considerate and be helpful.