The real entrepreneurial spirit often starts showing at an early age and the most talented of these entrepreneurs, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world, find their vocation even before they graduate. This was very much the case for Steven Pun (Class of 2018), who launched his first company with a friend while in secondary school.
Although this first attempt did not succeed, it taught the two friends very important lessons about demand, supply and organisation that allowed them to lead with steady hands their new company set up in Hong Kong in 2008, soon after their graduation.
Protech Electronics and Technology Ltd., originally a distributor of electronic products first on Yahoo and later on e-Bay and Amazon, developed fast and today it is one of the most established manufacturers and suppliers specialising in high-definition multimedia interface technology (HDMI) in the Shenzhen Bay area.
Their success is based on their keen sense for what their customers needed to grow and being always one step ahead of that demand. Constantly fighting for better quality, which had been a recurring problem, they first set up a research and development centre. Then, in 2011 they became the major shareholder and soon after that the 100 per cent owner of their Shenzhen supplier’s manufacturing business that allowed them to create better quality products at a lower cost.
Protech Electronics and Technology Ltd. developed fast, but always step by step. In 2012, they moved into a factory building, which reinforced their manufacturing activities and in 2015 – a moment of pride for Steven – the operations relocated to an industrial building, together with the office. In 2017 they received the National High-Tech Enterprise Certification from the Chinese Government and prior to this remarkable achievement, Steven started his MBA journey in 2016.
“When I started my company, I was just a fresh graduate, I had no experience. By 2016, I had 200 staff members and it was not easy to manage the growing number of people when, at the same time, I was also trying to take my company to the next level. That’s when I thought I would need to go back to school and study more,” Steven says.
The two years doing the part-time CUHK MBA were well spent. Steven set up in his company a professional human resources department and a separate accounting department. He was hoping to learn from his classmates and also receive professional help from them, and his objectives were amply fulfilled.
“One important aspect of the MBA was meeting all the different people in my class. There were about 100 people and most of them were professionals in large companies. They were happy to find a platform and use their experience in a smaller company. They shared with me their management skills and practical knowledge, which paired wonderfully with the theories we learnt,” he says.
There were also some management skills Steven had picked up here and there and been using, but it was very helpful to learn about them as part of a system. He also appreciates the theories and practice that can be used in his private life, not only at work. The most obvious is time management. With two kids aged three and five, and with a head office in Shenzhen that required him to commute for several hours every day, he learnt how to plan well and be effective.
While doing his MBA, he also co-founded two companies. Monocerus Consulting for business remodelling and fundraising and Social Seeds, a social enterprise to share business vision and management knowledge with social enterprises and help them survive without government funding.
“I also found some good partners in my MBA class, one classmate became shareholder in Monocerus and another in Social Seeds,” Steven says.
He has also recently become one of 10 Youth Entrepreneur Warriors, receiving the Outstanding Youth Entrepreneur Award. He says, one of his MBA professors nominated him, and it was a very valuable experience, as he really had to think over how his business developed in the past 11 years and how he wants to take it forward.
“My exposure has increased, I did some interviews and sharing at several universities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen,” he says.
His most important guidance, he says, is what one of the professors told him: “Aim high and then you can move down a notch to a lower level and make a success of it.”
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