In his role as chief executive officer of AsiaWorld-Expo Management, Allen Ha Wing-on can draw on extensive experience in developing major real estate projects and the exhibition and convention industry. During his career, he has held senior management positions with Hong Kong’s Airport Authority, Macau International Airport and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre among others. Ha has a proven track record in business administration, venue management and commercial tenders. He has been involved in a range of development projects in Hong Kong, other parts of Asia and major cities in Europe and Canada. As a key member of the team representing Hong Kong, he has also helped negotiate with mainland authorities on major land acquisitions. He talks to Jan Chan.
What attracted you to the exhibition sector?
Throughout my career, I have always been involved in property and project developments, including residential and commercial, airports and public assembly venues.
I have had the opportunity to work on these from the conceptual stage through to actual completion and operation. This was also the case with AsiaWorld-Expo, as I got involved even before there was a construction site. What I've found is that running a convention and exhibition centre is very similar to running other real estate projects.
What does your present role involve?
As chief executive, I am responsible for steering the company towards its vision, mission and values. In doing so, we try to achieve the business and financial objectives while also delivering returns for our shareholders. As AsiaWorld-Expo is primarily a publicly financed venture, we are also accountable to the public sector's shareholders.
What does it take to lead a company well?
I believe an effective leader must be someone you can trust and rely upon. Trust is tested and built over time, and integrity is essential. You can have all kinds of other gifts as a leader, but people will not be loyal or do their best if they don't feel a sense of trust.
It is best that a leader learns to be who he or she really is rather than pretending to be somebody else. That way you can actually enjoy the role and have the basis for a trusting relationship with people who will be prepared to follow wholeheartedly.
A leader should not be afraid to admit mistakes, learn from them and move on.
Which part of your job provides most satisfaction?
With a public assembly venue such as ours, there is great diversity because of the exposure you get working with different types of business. What I enjoy most are the relationships I can build with customers, staff, stakeholders - people from different walks of life and from across the globe.
In which areas are you looking to improve your performance?
In terms of my leadership style, I would like to act more as a facilitator to bring out the best in other people in the organisation. I have two young boys at home who are growing up fast, and what I am seeing is that new experiences as a father are helping me to change gradually and improve as a leader in the business world.
What are you aiming to achieve for the company?
I would like to make the organisation one in which staff embrace the corporate vision and mission in a united and harmonious way. I also hope our employees enjoy what they do and really put their hearts into their work.
Ha is very focused on mobilising and motivating his team. In doing this, a key priority is to make sure that strategies and directives are communicated effectively and, if necessary, repeatedly so that employees understand and are aligned with company objectives.
He likes to engage business colleagues and co-operate closely when tackling problems.
He has a trusted mentor who gives him regular support and advice
As a Christian, he finds his direction and inspiration through regular prayer