A dream job that never stops giv­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

If we don’t un­der­stand Asia to­day, we are doomed to fail.”

Al­ice Mong, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Asia So­ci­ety Hong Kong Cen­ter, joined the team here in Hong Kong in Novem­ber 2011.

The cen­ter at the time was poised to open at its new home at the Old Vic­to­ria Bar­racks, where it moved the fol­low­ing Fe­bru­ary, and Mong joined as a con­sul­tant.

Tai­wan-born Mong grew up in the US, where her fam­ily im­mi­grated in the early 1970s. As a stu­dent at the Ohio State Univer­sity in the ’80s, she chose In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions as her ma­jor as she wanted to be a di­plo­mat. Later she joined the state govern­ment of Ohio.

“When I worked for the state of Ohio, my job was to pro­mote trade. Ohio was do­ing a lot of busi­ness with China, Hubei prov­ince in par­tic­u­lar, so I moved to Hong Kong in 1992, to work for the Ohio trade of­fice in Hong Kong. I stayed here for 11 years,” Mong re­called.

Then she moved back to the US and worked in New York for nine years for two non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, one of which was the Mu­seum of Chi­nese in Amer­ica.

“I joined the mu­seum as di­rec­tor in 2009, when it was mov­ing from a smaller space to a big­ger space. Dur­ing my two years as di­rec­tor of the mu­seum, it grew from a lo­cal New York in­sti­tu­tion to more of a na­tional mis­sion.”

From March to Au­gust of 2011, Mong was the in­terim ex­ec­u­tive of Asia So­ci­ety Hong Kong Cen­ter.

“Then I de­cided that I could do more, and I fell in love with the mis­sion, so I de­cided to ac­cept a po­si­tion as full­time ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.”

Mong said that work­ing for Asia So­ci­ety Hong Kong Cen­ter is a dream job for her, as she be­lieves they are con­tribut­ing some­thing pos­i­tive to Hong Kong and to the re­gion, and they are try­ing to build un­der­stand­ing among peo­ple.

“The job is fas­ci­nat­ing. I never do the same thing twice, ev­ery day we have new speak­ers, new and in­ter­est­ing con­tent, and di­verse mem­bers. For me per­son­ally it’s fun and ful­fill­ing.”

Mong’s busi­ness phi­los­o­phy is based on re­spect and lis­ten­ing. “What fas­ci­nates me is peo­ple, ev­ery­body has their own story, and lis­ten­ing to them. My staff, my board and my mem­bers, ev­ery­body is very im­por­tant, as we are build­ing some­thing unique here. We are all in this jour­ney to­gether, we need to work to­gether to move for­ward.”

Also, in terms of run­ning the cen­ter, Mong said that she may have the knowl­edge about cer­tain things, like how to run a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion for ex­am­ple, but when it comes to the lo­cal au­di­ence, she be­lieves her staff may un­der­stand it bet­ter than she does, so she tries to lis­ten.

Mong said her sug­ges­tion to lo­cal young­sters is that they should never stop learn­ing and never stop be­ing cu­ri­ous even if they have grad­u­ated from univer­sity.

“In my se­nior year of col­lege, I didn’t know what to do, as it was the mid­dle of the ’80s, the US had had a ma­jor re­ces­sion. So I stayed one ex­tra year at col­lege to get a busi­ness mi­nor, and an in­tern­ship for the state govern­ment which led me to my full-time job and my men­tor,” Mong said.

She stressed that grad­u­at­ing and get­ting a de­gree is not the end of learn­ing, it is the be­gin­ning. Young­sters should con­tinue to learn and be cu­ri­ous. “There are so many prob­lems out there, and you young­sters can be the so­lu­tion.”

EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY

Al­ice Mong finds her job as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor fas­ci­nat­ing as she never has to do the same thing twice, and there are al­ways new chal­lenges and faces, which all go to­ward mak­ing what she calls “a fun and ful­fill­ing” way of life.

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