Alumni Portraits

  • Ready to Respond in a Disaster

    Kanie Siu (MBA 2002)
    24 Mar 2014

    With her hard-working attitude and an independent streak born of being part of a family of eight children with busy parents, Kanie Siu, Director, Fundraising and Communications Unit of Oxfam Hong Kong, has followed her own path in life. This has included several years as an award-winning salesperson, marketing and communications specialist in the private sector and more than a decade at Oxfam Hong Kong.

    Kanie's time at the NGO has been one of constant learning as well as satisfaction in helping others. Starting out as a fundraising manager, she introduced many concepts she had learned in the business world to help in generating donations, donor development and communications. From 2011, Kanie spent two years as Hong Kong unit director, which saw her take on the additional areas of poverty alleviation, development and education, and fair trade. In 2013, she became the head of a revamped fundraising and communications unit, with the wider remit of Greater China.

    Kanie was at Oxfam Hong Kong when she applied to study for the HKUST MBA. She and her husband had been accepted for an MBA at Melbourne University in 1990 but had given up the program and returned to Hong Kong when Kanie became pregnant. Ironically, she became pregnant again during the HKUST MBA, and the support of fellow students in terms of arranging classwork at the time she had her baby is a lasting memory.

    Indeed, it is the team-building and problem-solving skills acquired through the HKUST MBA that have been particularly useful, Kanie said. However, everything she learned on the MBA could be applied to her work at Oxfam Hong Kong, she added, as sales and marketing, customer services, and people management all have to be carried out. "The main difference is that the place I work is called an NGO and you have to be more ethical and more accountable."

    In addition to her full schedule at Oxfam Hong Kong, Kanie has taught marketing strategy courses part-time, and taken a Master of Social Development program. She has joined MBA Toastmasters, led by her MBA classmate, while Facebook updates keep her in touch with other fellow students.

    The advent of social media has also brought major changes to her work, providing instant communication with colleagues on the frontline during a disaster. "I am never without three gadgets - my notebook, iPad and Galaxy Note II," Kanie said, adding they are all personally bought and not provided by Oxfam.

    The fast response when a catastrophe occurs is greatly valued by beneficiaries, not only in terms of quicker delivery of supplies but also in showing that people care about them, Kanie said. Donors are keen to see the agency in action too. "It does mean there is no downtime. Even at home, I'm always listening for the 'beep, beep' of the next message."