Hard work has paid off for a dedicated stage management student who graduated with honours. Teresa Fok Ping-sum, a final-year Technical Arts degree student at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA), also won the Director's Prize and more than $10,000 in scholarships. The 26-year-old was chosen for the award by APA director Lo King-man from among 700 students from five schools at the academy. 'It is the greatest honour and recognition I have ever received,' an excited Ms Lo said. She had been nominated for the prize four times. Ms Lo completed her secondary school education at the age of 20 and worked for a year before joining the APA. There she took a two-year diploma course before studying for a three-year degree in Technical Arts. 'I had to make a tough choice between going to APA or to university.' She said she had been offered a place at the University of Hong Kong to study business management, but opted for the arts instead. Ballet and drama had been her childhood passions and she had organised various activities at school. Her outgoing personality is likely to be an asset in the management field. 'It is even more challenging to be a manager in the performing arts industry,' Ms Lo said. A stage manager was the key co-ordinator of any theatrical performance, a drama, musical, fashion show or concert, she said. She would have to ensure that the operation ran smoothly. To do the job properly it was necessary to be creative and highly organised. 'You have to deal with people of different back grounds and jobs involving techni cal aspects such as lighting, sound, audio and building sets and properties.' Ms Lo said her work was quite different from managing a business, although there were a few similarities. She said stage managers liaised with artists, directors and crew, while looking after the financial and marketing aspects of a production. She said she would be under a lot of stress working eight to 12 hours a day, including weekends. 'I don't mind the hard work. I love teamwork,' she said. At present, Ms Lo is based in Beijing, working with an Australia-Hong Kong-China production. She is also training a crew of mainland people to work as stage managers. Ms Lo's ambition is to study for a master's degree in arts administration. To do this she has to go overseas because the course is not available in Hong Kong. Ms Lo said she had high hopes for the development of the local performing arts, although state funding was a problem.