"I'm not your typical career guy, I'm kind of a maverick," says So. "But this inconsistency, this contradiction in my interests was always part of me. Looking back, it seems that things just happened; there was really no conscious plan."
That willingness to follow where life led was already evident in So's decision to study economics and philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in the late 1960s.
The subject looked challenging and fresh and seemed "a fun idea", while also providing the chance to continue practising and performing as a classical pianist in both solo and chamber concerts.
So had begun to play as a five-year-old and was soon taking fortnightly tram trips for lessons from a distinguished teacher on The Peak. Later, training at a conservatory did cross his mind, there was an opportunity to attend England's Royal School of Music, but So has no regrets about not taking that path. "Sometimes, I wonder how my life would have evolved if I'd gone there, but I don't pine for it," he says. "I was able to do interesting things musically and, perhaps unconsciously, was telling myself I could always go back to music [at any time]."
That has proved to be the case. So's first full-time job as a Nestle marketing executive saw him pounding the streets selling milk products, infant formula, chocolate and drinks to all kinds of outlets around Hong Kong. He found it excellent training in the practicalities of sales and marketing, but after a year, he could not resist an offer to work as programme officer on classical music shows for RTHK's English channel.
Carrying two-feet-high piles of black vinyl discs between the library and the studio did improve his physique but, all things considered, didn't present too much of a creative challenge. In search of that, he joined advertising firm Ling-McCann-Erickson