Life in the fast lane: Leisure guru Ken Chu on why time is youth

CEO of Mission Hills Group completed university in just two years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:31pm

On paper, Dr Ken Chu comes across as having an almost superhuman ability to control time. The chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group completed university in two years, can play a round of golf in an hour and helped establish the world's largest golf club in just 10 years. In reality, Chu is an incredibly efficient multitasker who has no time to waste.

"I've always lived my life at a fast pace," says Chu, who along with his late father Dr David Chu has been named one of the "Most Powerful People in Golf" by Golf Inc magazine. The Hong Kong native finished his bachelor's degree in business administration at Canada's University of Western Ontario in two years by studying through the summer breaks.

"That was in the early 1990s, when my father decided to invest in the no-man's land on the boundary of Shenzhen city," Chu says. "At the time, people thought my father was crazy, that he was pouring money into the sea. I knew how much of an undertaking it was for him to take on this project alone, so that motivated me to expedite my studies."

Mission Hills is now one of the leaders of China's burgeoning sports and leisure industry with its 20-square-kilometre facility in the Pearl River Delta, a newly opened resort on Hainan Island, and various business and entertainment complexes in development.

"My father had a blueprint, he had a master plan," says Chu, whose father died of cancer in August last year at the age of 61. "My father wanted to do more than golf, but he just didn't have enough time. I'm changing 'more than golf' to 'golf and more'."

Chu hopes to encourage more families to visit Mission Hills by offering activities for everyone from children to grandparents.

He's also spearheading a number of tourism-related businesses such as a 240,000-square-metre shopping and entertainment district in Haikou developed jointly with Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong Group.

Chu's other passion is supporting youth groups and activities. He and his siblings established the David Chu Memorial Foundation to carry on the elder Chu's philanthropic legacy.

"One of the reasons why time is so crucial to me is that my parents died at a very young age, in their early 60s," he says. "That's why for me, time is not money; time is youth. It's what you can do in your span of life. And what you do and how much you accomplish is how you'll be remembered."

The father of three - whose disciplined approach includes exercising daily for one hour and always going to bed at 11pm - is already training the next generation in "quality time management". "If you care about that person or that function, then you can always make time for it," he says. "I truly believe time can be made. It's by going to sleep earlier and getting up ahead of everybody. In golf, we have the term 'early bird'. I'm a true early bird." TL