The Journey of Transformation: Digital Technology, Career, and Social Innovation
The Journey of Transformation: Digital Technology, Career, and Social Innovation
“Transformation” is a prominent motif in our IBCE alumna Janice Sue Wong’s professional development. She kickstarted her career as a strategy consultant at Accenture, focusing on digital transformation, and later took a shift in her career path and took on her current role as the senior innovation lead at Jardine Matheson. How has her passion for driving change in the community played a role in her career?
Digital Transformation: Exploring the Path at CUHK, and Working as a Consultant
Janice gained exposure across different industries from her study at CUHK. The IBCE curriculum allowed her to hone her business acumen and provided her with valuable opportunities to undertake internships in both the private and third sectors. She even ran her venture, all of which enabled her to widen her perspectives.
After graduation, Janice joined Accenture as a strategy consultant in 2014, where she was involved in various tech-related projects. With a business degree, how challenging was it for her to join a company focusing on technology consulting? Janice believes that it boils down to the hands-on learning experiences one has. She took it upon herself to learn about niche technology applications from different angles, from reading about the basics of the technology to researching global adoption cases, all of which enabled her to gain an in-depth understanding of the value proposition of the technologies explored. “Business students are value-adding in tech-related companies, especially by bringing in their problem-solving skills.” Despite not having a background in engineering, Janice notes that students can utilize their business acumen in designing technology applications. It creates value for clients when combined with other colleagues’ hard skills from their background in technology.
Social Change: Intertwining Social Impact with Business
In one of her projects at Accenture, Janice realized the gravity of the proposed strategies does not stop at the business level. While the digital transformation project could automate and streamline processes to achieve significant cost savings, it at the same time would eradicate many roles and jobs in the back end. Janice believes that strategies should not only focus on cost and profits but also the impact on the community.
Because of this, Janice took the initiative to drive social innovation at Accenture by first joining the CSR team and later spearheaded many CSR projects as the corporate citizenship lead. Her most memorable projects include hosting social innovation bootcamps to teach students how to leverage digital technology in tackling social issues and empowering underprivileged female students to encourage more female participation in the STEM field. Through these CSR initiatives, Janice hoped to leverage the power of business and technology in supporting youth development.
Social innovation does not stop at the local community. The application of technology could drastically amplify social impacts. For example, financial innovation in mobile payments and e-wallets can empower individuals to trade and make local commerce easy. “Technology evolves swiftly,” Janice says, “so constantly learning about the latest innovation can help broaden your horizon.”
This continuous learning mindset was also seen in Janice’s postgraduate study when she decided to take a break to re-examine her career and life goals by pursuing postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her master’s degree focuses on economic and human development, where the interactions with fellow master’s students sparked discussions on how business and technology affect social development. Janice continued looking into emerging economies such as China and Africa and evaluated how innovation ecosystem construction can foster growth in these markets.
Career Shift: Driver of Change in the Corporate World
Researching global adoption cases Her desire to learn remains – Janice wants to expose herself to as many projects, industries, and people as possible. She could also interact with people of various backgrounds at the new company. From an advisor to the driver of change, what is different for Janice?
To her, consulting projects are more focused on offering advice, and it may take years for consultants to see the impacts happen. At a conglomerate, however, she focuses on driving change, where the mobility of the in-house environment offers sizeable innovation opportunities. Whilst both offer extensive cross-function exposures, she could experience more autonomy in “delivering a project and knowing the outcome.” Though the pace of change in large organizations is relatively slower, Janice could take this chance to understand the structural complexities and drive change by connecting stakeholders and group companies across different verticals.
Notwithstanding the fundamental differences, Janice believes there are transferable elements that her consulting experience offered her. Her experience in consulting equipped her with problem-solving, communication, and execution skills, all of which improved her agility. The diverse exposure gained from consulting provided her with cross-industry experiences, from deep tech to hospitality, from M&A to digital transformation, all of which enabled her to gain vast knowledge in innovation and transformation. “You always need to be ahead of the development, and learning the latest trends is instrumental in any working environment.” Along with the diverse network she gained, Janice’s consulting career fostered the transition in her career.
At Jardine Matheson, Janice again took the initiative to drive social innovation. Digital transformation and social innovation appear to be key elements in Janice’s professional development, but where does this interest and passion for change stem from?
Undergraduate Internships: Inspiration for Social Innovation
Janice’s pursuit of social innovation has been sparked during her undergraduate internships, and since then, she has decided to turn the momentary passion into her life-long goal. Back in Janice’s university life, she was always surrounded by top-notched business talents that aimed to kickstart their careers in sectors such as investment banking or consulting. Instead of trailing money-driven paths, Janice made a distinct choice by joining summer internship programmes at international organizations as she would like to discover as many opportunities as possible in her early profession. Her internship at the United Nations (UN) for World Information Transfer (WIT), an international NGO that raises public awareness on environmental and health-related topics, has equipped Janice with an international perspective on societal issues in developing countries. Joining summer internship programmes in these renowned organizations also granted her an opportunity to interact with government and business representatives and discuss topics affecting the global community, for instance, eradicating poverty and improving the marine ecosystem. Also, the talks delivered by influential figures including Bill Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Malala have enlightened Janice that her duty was not about solving a minuscule problem but contributing to the global community. Seeing all the social problems affecting the global community, Janice has been inspired to start her social venture, which further underpinned her determination to pursue social innovation throughout her career development.
Social Venture: The Breakthroughs and Limitations of Social Entrepreneurs
With the vision of creating a socially impactful venture, Janice has participated in various incubation programs held by CUHK and Enactus Hong Kong. In these events, Janice teamed up with students from diverse backgrounds but with an aligned goal to turn society into a better one and to establish a sustainable social enterprise model that could raise public awareness in the local community. After countless rounds of brainstorming, Janice and her teammates launched “HeArt / istic”, a social start-up focused on incorporating expressive art to raise awareness of mental well-being. Initially, the operation was eminently smooth as the events held by Janice and her team were able to break and even generate additional sources of funds for the venture. Nonetheless, like other early-stage start-ups, different hurdles were present during her social-entrepreneurial odyssey. To encourage social innovation on campus, Janice invited her juniors in the IBCE program to participate in the pilot scheme and broaden their horizons on societal topics. As successful as her journey might seem, one vital concern arose in the later stage and led to the pause of the social venture. Although Janice and the team were trying very hard to amplify their impacts globally, it had very limited scalability due to the scarce time and resources of the students. To scale up impacts to more communities, Janice understood that such projects have to garner material and monetary support from international corporations. This has solidified Janice’s societal endeavor in Jardine Matheson.
Corporate Innovation: Combining Innovation with Sustainability
Years later, when Janice has become one of the seniors in Jardine Matheson, she decided to contribute to the community at a deeper level. Acting as the lead for Hack.Asia 2022, one of the most recognized events on sustainability and innovation in the APAC region, Janice has been engaging start-ups, students, and innovators to come up with innovative solutions to challenges faced by different businesses. Compared to the events in the past years, Hack.Asia 2022 has shifted its focus from solely being an innovation-themed hackathon to a sustainability-embracing hackathon that incubates world-changing ideas. Also, several themes including decarbonization, renewable energy, automotive sustainability, and social inclusion have been added this year to align with the strategic pillars of sustainable development in Jardine. Throughout the hackathon, Janice has seen many extraordinary projects with enormous potential. She is particularly impressed by the winning undergraduate team tackling the sustainability challenges in the Food & Beverage industry. By leveraging advanced machine learning technology, the student-led champion has proposed a digital food management solution that can reduce the generation of food waste. With predictive analytics applied at operations and new digital touchpoints introduced along the customer journey, the solution can help the company to adjust the ingredients needed and thereby reduce food waste. Janice was amazed by students’ ability to break the seemingly insurmountable problem into solvable pieces and solve them with new technological solutions. She believes in the value of garnering the creativity of the local community and driving collaboration across industry players to scale up the impact on society.
Words and Aspirations
Looking forward, Janice aspires to thoroughly incorporate digital innovation into the Creating Shared Value (CSV) initiatives. She believes that decarbonization and digitalization are the key drivers of change in modern society. Specifically, she is intrigued to discover more about new venture ideas to help sustainable businesses reinforce their capability of going green. To thrive in and contribute to the global society, Janice has given a few tips for CUHK students under the ‘3Ps – Purpose, Passion and Persistence’ structure. “For Purpose, to find your calling, you (the students) should try as many paths as possible during your undergraduate studies and discover more in the interested field during the penultimate or final years”, Janice said during the interview. “For Passion, when you have decided your career path, you have to be very passionate about it and be ready to be constantly exposed to related engagements, such as mingling with industry professionals or reading news regularly.” For her last tip, “Persistence”, Janice encourages students to be persistent to get through the barriers and learn from failures when facing the countless obstacles in one’s career development. With the 3P approach, Janice believes that the students at CUHK could seize the opportunities and thrive in the modern world.
「變革」這個恆常的議題，貫穿了中大校友Janice Sue Wong的事業發展。 修畢國際貿易與中國企業課程(IBCE)後，她先於埃森哲 (Accenture) 從事數碼轉型的戰略諮詢顧問，再轉到怡和洋行帶領企業創新。究竟，這份將社會創新帶入工作的熱誠，如何改變她的職業生涯？
2014年，Janice畢業後正式踏入職場，於Accenture從事戰略顧問，參與了各種與科技相關的項目。商科畢業的她，究竟如何克服在科技諮詢公司工作的困難呢？Janice認為最重要的是親身實踐，主動學習。透過當時閱讀不同材料，研究國際應用案例，她認識到不同科技的價值主張 (value proposition) 。「商科學生憑藉他們的問題解決能力，可以為科技公司創造更多價值。」儘管商科學生缺乏工程學背景，Janice認為同學們可以善用他們的商業知識，協助科技應用層面上的設計，並配合同僚的科學、工程背景，給予客戶最大的價值。
後來，秉承她持續學習的想法，Janice暫別職場，前往倫敦政治經濟學院 (The London School of Economics and Political Science) 進修，專修發展研究，藉此重新考慮職業、人生的目標。通過與其他碩士生交流，探討商業與科技對社會發展的影響。Janice在進修時繼續鑽研中國、非洲等發展中經濟體系的科技發展，探討建構創新產業的生態系統如何促進這些市場的發展。
在Accenture工作六年後，Janice選擇轉換工作環境，成為怡和洋行的企業創新負責人(Senior Innovation Lead)。她對學習依舊熱衷，希望能夠接觸到不同的人、計劃和行業，從中學到更多。不同的是，她從顧問的身分，變成發起轉變的領導。
在中大修讀本科期間，Janice在不同機構實習，這些經驗啟發了她對社會創新的追求，埋下了將熱血轉化為目標的種子。大學時期的她，生活在商業精英的圈子中，大部份的同輩希望於投資銀行或咨詢機構發展。可是，Janice並沒有跟隨他們的步伐。她更希望在早期的職業生涯發掘不同的路向，故此選擇參加國際非牟利機構的暑期實習計劃。Janice曾經於聯合國(UN)紐約總部進行實習，為世界信息傳遞(World Information Transfer ，WIT) 這個提高公眾對環境和健康相關議題認識的國際非政府組織工作。這次的實習除了開拓Janice的國際視野外，更令她進一步了解到發展中國家的社會議題。Janice亦透過這次實習，獲得與社會各界交流的機會，並和國際社會上的政界及商界人士討論杜絕貧窮、改善環境生態等議題。另外，她參加了各個由世界知名人士舉辦的研討會，例如由美國前總統克林頓、影星安祖蓮娜祖莉、女權運動家馬拉拉等主講的講座，藉此，她明白到對全球發展作出貢獻的使命。了解到不同影響全球社會的問題之後，她決定開展自己的社創生涯，印證她追求社會創新的決心。
Janice 懷著使命和抱負，希望創立具社會影響力的企業，故此參加了中大和Enactus Hong Kong 舉辦的各種創科培育計劃。在這些活動中，Janice結識了來自五湖四海，但同樣有改變社會之志的同學們。眾人希望透過合作，建立能持續發展的社會企業，提升公衆對不同社會問題的認識。
幾年後，Janice在怡和身居要職，希望更深入地貢獻社區。她領導了 Hack.Asia 2022的項目─一個鼓勵初創企業、學生和具有創新熱忱的人探索革新的方法，解決不同商業挑戰的計劃。與往年不同，Hack.Asia 2022 的主題已加入可持續發展元素，成為一個以此為重點的黑客松活動。該年的計劃希望能配合怡和的可持續發展策略，尋找與減碳、可再生能源、綠色汽車產業、社會共融等主題相關的創新點子。通過是次比賽，Janice發現很多優秀且具潛力的計劃。當中，她對由大學生領導的優勝隊伍，提出針對飲食業可持續發展挑戰的解決方案，印象尤其深刻。這個團隊提出了一種可以減少食品浪費的數據化食品管理解決方案，並利用了先進的機器學習技術。通過在運營中應用預測分析，並在客戶旅程中引入新的數據化接觸點，幫助公司調整所需的食材數量，從而減少食品浪費。Janice驚嘆學生們可以將一個看似難以克服的問題，用創新技術逐一拆解。她相信不同群體的創意匯聚和不同行業之間的交流協作，能夠在改善社會上帶來有意義的影響。
展望未來，Janice希望將數碼革新全面融入創造共享價值（CSV）的倡議中。她相信減碳和數據化是現代社會變革的主要驅動力。具體來說，她希望參與更多創新項目，並推進企業的可持續轉型。為了在全球社會中繁榮並作出貢獻，Janice在「3Ps – 目標(Purpose)、熱情(Passion)和堅持(Persistence)」的框架下，給了中大的師弟妹一些建議。在訪談中，Janice說：「對於『目標』，要找到你的使命，你（學生）應該在本科學習期間嘗試盡可能多的道路，並在大三或大四的時候在感興趣的領域中進一步探索；對於『熱情』，當你決定了你的職業道路，你必須對它充滿熱情，並準備好不斷地接觸相關的事務，例如與行業專業人士交往，或定期閱讀新聞。」對於她的最後一條建議─「堅持」，Janice鼓勵學生要堅持不懈，以克服障礙，並在面對職業發展中的無數挑戰時從失敗中學習。憑藉著以上的方式，Janice相信中文大學的學生能夠抓住機會，在現代世界中茁壯成長。