Alumni Portraits

  • Moving Fast, Making a Difference

    Starry Lee (BBA 1996)
    24 Mar 2014

    Like her alma mater, accountant and leading Hong Kong political figure Starry Lee has made a habit of being a high-flyer and achieving a great deal fast. She became the youngest female district councilor just four years after graduation, a Legislative Councilor in 2008, and in 2012 joined Hong Kong's Executive Council, the body that assists the city's Chief Executive in policy-making. She was still only in her 30s.

    Indeed, there have not been many quiet moments for Starry since leaving the Business School. Along with her political career, she has qualified as a Certified Public Accountant and worked at two of the Big Four accountancy firms, got married and had a child. In addition, she has become a HKUST Council member, and in this role assists the senior management in setting the University's strategic direction.

    As a member of HKUST's third cohort, Starry joined when the University had little track record. Three factors influenced her decision. "HKUST didn't have to follow tradition and could be innovative in its ideas. I was attracted by the world-class academics that had joined the Business School. In addition, it had a great campus, with new facilities and buildings, and I felt that a large campus offered room to grow."

    "When I look back now, HKUST has done very well in 20 years in terms of worldwide recognition, and performed beyond my expectations."

    On graduation, Starry trained professionally with PricewaterhouseCoopers and later joined KPMG. At the same time she became deeply involved with the community by working as a district council volunteer. It was a role she found immensely satisfying. "I was happy that my years of education could help in the community. To Kwa Wan was a grassroots area so even with my level of experience, I could assist by reading letters to the elderly or by putting my knowledge of English to work, or helping to solve problems."

    She had not planned on becoming a district councilor but when it was suggested she stand for election, she bravely accepted. "It was scary but being young, I thought I should take up the chance as a way to gain experience." So she campaigned on the street and by knocking on people's doors for two to three months, taking unpaid leave to do so. Winning was a surprising and unexpected bonus. It also required more unpaid leave."

    Despite her full schedule, Starry still makes time to get together with her Business School classmates. She is also finding the space to foster the next generation of HKUST students. With her strong belief in education beyond the academic curriculum, Starry has become a mentor of the HKUST REDbird Award Program. The program encourages students' personal development through training camps, internships, and other activities. Like her, it can also help them to make a difference fast when they graduate.