Success Through Adversity


Kitty Fok

Kitty Fok describes how she came from Hong Kong to Lancaster for her Masters in Operational Research and developed her skills to achieve a successful career in Market Research in China as the Managing Director for IDC.

“Being brought up in Hong Kong with its British traditions and opportunities gave me the ambition to travel to Lancaster to study at the renowned management school. It took all my savings from hard work and my burgeoning language skills to succeed, encouraged by the friendly staff and students that I keep in touch with even now.

I leaned from the valuable real-world examples that the Professors used to illustrate the deeper theory and soft research methods, all of which were taught with contagious enthusiasm. I learned how to be flexible with OR and think of the end-to-end impact when applying the many methods taught. I also found the challenge of being immersed in a foreign academic and business culture helped me prepare for the even greater later challenges of working in mainland China for an American company. The pace of China’s development has presented both opportunities and challenges. I found the country still relatively under-developed when I arrived with a culture so different from the one in Hong Kong. My assumptions could not be relied upon and I had to continue with the same steep learning curve for another two years. I became fully immersed in the challenge of learning both Mandarin and the Chinese business communication culture. It took all my self-belief and an understanding manager to persevere, but I stayed true to a target of growing the business using those methods first taught to me in Lancaster.

Today, the China business is a much more substantial part of our worldwide total and it has the fastest growth. We are continuing to grow even today, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the strict lockdown that was imposed in China. Our company culture showed remarkable resilience in the face of tremendous business impact and I am so impressed by my colleagues. We re-developed our existing products and changed our focus to deliver what was now needed. We found new customers and delivered innovatively to support them through adversity – all whilst remote working far from the office. A true team effort! Hours previously spent commuting were now used to be still more productive. I have found as Andy Grove of Intel famously said, that being a great company, we will not just survive but be further improved by this crisis. Never stop believing and learning!”  

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