Operation Santa Claus

When NGOs, corporate executives and scholars exchange ideas in Hong Kong leadership course, lives are transformed

2018 NGO Leadership Programme sponsored by Operation Santa Claus kicks off as participants look to pick up strategic thinking and branding skills

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 8:20pm

They may have different backgrounds, but 29 participants at an executive training course in Hong Kong gathered on Friday with the same ultimate goal in mind – transforming the lives of others.

The aspirants are part of the NGO Leadership Programme, sponsored by Operation Santa Claus, the annual fundraising campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Undersecretary for Labour and Welfare Caspar Tsui Ying-wai officiated the programme’s opening ceremony on Friday and stressed the importance of the contribution by NGOs to society.

Since its launch in 2015, more than 70 individuals from 65 organisations, including NGOs, social enterprises, charitable foundations and for-profit organisations looking into social service opportunities, have taken part in the leadership programme.

In the coming few months, the 2018 class will hone their skills in strategic thinking, fundraising strategy, brand building and social networking.

In addition to training in management and communications skills, participants are paired with mentors from global financial services company UBS and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

UBS, which helped set up the programme, said it was important to get corporate knowledge into the NGO world.

Amy Lo Choi-wan, chairman and head of UBS Wealth Management for Greater China, said the company wanted to help programme participants position their own charity organisations and improve their project management skills.

“NGOs with good hearts and deserving causes must translate them into a real impact on society,” she said, adding that the executives at such organisations should also understand the concept of profit and loss.

Like banks and every other business, NGOs have to move with the times
Amy Lo, UBS

She noted the increasing use of social media and other innovative means of communication in the corporate world for brand building.

“Like banks and every other business, NGOs have to move with the times,” Lo said.

She said programme participants could make use of UBS’s network as many of its clients were interested in giving back to the community.

Lo said she had been delighted to see the improvement in presentation skills among those she had mentored under the programme.

Dawning Leung Hoi-ching, who trains others to serve the blind and visually impaired at Audio Description Association (Hong Kong), said she enrolled in the leadership programme because she wanted to strengthen her network.

Hong Kong leadership course helps get corporate knowledge into NGO world

“As a start-up, we need to learn more about fundraising and brand building. I believe my mentor can provide real-world practical tips for me,” Leung said.

Kenneth Choi Man-kin, director of business development at social enterprise restaurant Gingko House, said he looked forward to acquiring skills in service collaboration and marketing.

“I want to know more about NGO operations,” the programme participant said, noting that his restaurant chain, known for its support of elderly employment, also launched some social service projects.

Dr Mooly Wong Mei-ching, who teaches social work at Chinese University, said the leadership programme’s sessions benefited both mentors and mentees.

“Many of the programme participants are experienced NGO executives. We can have positive exchanges and learn from each other,” the academic said.