Alumni Portraits

  • Surviving from SARS to Wine Marathons

    Jennifer Luk (BBA 2003)
    24 Mar 2014

    Since graduation, the life of Jennifer Luk has never been boring. She has worked in advertising, event planning and promotion, taken up wine studies and teaching, engaged in freelance writing, as well as heading off on many long-distance travels and conquering her reluctance toward sport to go marathon running.

    While classmates sought jobs in management training schemes with banks or FMCG industries, Jennifer followed her dream of working in an advertising agency. But in Hong Kong's post-SARS economy, the hours were punishing and the recompense was low. "It was beyond-the-imagination tough," she said.

    She soon moved on, taking a marketing and promotion job at an IT start-up. However, her passion for travel re-emerged, and a year later she resigned to embark on a major tour of Europe. "One former classmate noted how I have never had to apply for annual leave in the past 10 years. That's because I always make my own holidays and they are always too long to fit into two weeks!"

    With nothing lined up on her return, she sent off a spur-of-the-moment email to the Italian Chamber of Commerce. Instead of the Italian lifestyle festival she had volunteered to work for, the chamber put her in touch with a wine company looking for a business school graduate. In 2005, Jennifer's wine career was born. "Although I had never previously thought of wine as a career, I felt I would love to learn about it," she said.

    In February 2008, Hong Kong lifted all tax on wine, causing an explosion of interest in the community and leading to several part-time teaching jobs for Jennifer. It also saw her establish her own business, Wines Connect Co. Ltd, which supplies wine and organizes wine events and appreciation workshops.

    In between, she fitted in a month-long solo backpacking tour of southern and eastern Europe and established herself as a freelance Chinese travel writer and columnist, writing for the Hong Kong Economic Journal and Ming Pao. She also managed to combine all her interests, through writing articles about wine that involved going to overseas locations or events. Such work has taken her to the US, France, Chile and Argentina. She visited Australia after being awarded the Wine Australia Travel Scholarship, which helped to strengthen her industry connections and knowledge.

    In 2012, Jennifer overcame her dislike of sport to train for, and participate in, the wine-oriented Marathon du Medoc, a race through the Bordeaux vineyards in France with wine stations along the way to revitalize the runners. Encouraged and supported by her Business School exchange companion and certified yoga teacher, Jennifer crossed the finishing line in six hours, 53 minutes with half a bottle of wine. Another adventure completed, another story to tell.

    A year later, Jennifer turned out finishing another wine-oriented marathon “Marathon du Vignoble d'Alsace” in France and “Angkor Wat International Half Marathon 2013”, a charity run for the relief of victims of antipersonnel mines in Cambodia.