Running operation is like being mayor or governor

Dan Boylan

For the centre's deputy general manager, who oversees staff and departmental budgets, the job is like that of a big city mayor or state governor.

A 10-year veteran of his duties, Alfred Lo also ensures the centre presents visitors with an unforgettable image.

At the same time, he makes every effort to ensure the centre records a profit.

'This is the only exhibition space in Hong Kong.' he said.

'We must make sure the shows are memorable and cost-efficient.' Mr Lo's responsibilities include acting as chief financial officer for the centre's eight departments - food and beverage, building operations, housekeeping, security, human resources, finance, event planning and services - and marketing and sales.

He also oversees the payroll for the centre's 1,100 employees.

He learned the business during 14 years with the New World Group, now New World Development which administers and manages the centre, and his time at Price Waterhouse just after graduating from college.

The need to make money ensures the centre is well run and thus in the top rank of convention centres in Asia. Under its agreement, the centre is leased from the Government and Hong Kong Trade and Development to the New World Development's convention centre management team.

The HKCEC pays the HKTDC a fixed fee for the privilege based on the centre's yearly gross income. Mr Lo's mandate to New World Development shareholders is, of course, to be profitable and this is always in his mind.

'Everyone is concerned about expenditure,' he said. 'It's us who take charge of making sure things don't get out of order.' Operating costs and needs change for every event. As an example, Mr Lo cited the World Bank meeting which requires F and B staff to provide room service to the 900 temporary offices that have been set up for about 14,000 guests. These rooms also need the constant care of the Housekeeping Department.

But costs were not an issue for the handover and associated events at the centre.

As a guide to running costs, the daily air- conditioning bill is about $40,000 at the original centre and $60,000 at the extension. But, said Mr Lo, it was efficiently operated and designated staff monitored all energy use, including lights.