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Life as a Gang Piao

Jessica Pan, alumni stories
MSc Business Information Systems’14
Jessica Pan

Gang Piao literally means “drifting to Hong Kong”, the term referring to mainlanders who come to Hong Kong for work or study. Jessica Pan, Master of Science in Business Information Systems’14 (BIS), started her journey in Hong Kong as Gang Piao in 2013 when she entered CityU as a master’s student. 
The Cantonese language has always been one of the greatest barriers for mainlanders, Jessica was no exception. To add to their burden were the difference in culture and lifestyle. How did Jessica deal with such changes?  

Bias between local / mainlanders?

Some may think that local people are unwilling to make friends with mainlanders, but Jessica doesn't believe that is the case. When asked about whether bias exists between the two groups, she quickly said “No, that is not the case,” even though some of her colleagues have impressions of mainlanders dating back to the 20th century. At that time where there was a large discrepancy in attitude and culture, but in recent years the gap has become narrower. “In general, my colleagues and people that I have met have been very nice and helpful. They taught me Cantonese and correct the pronunciations and even gave tips in many fields of daily life.” Jessica continued.

Nevertheless conflicts do exist between the two groups in society today; it depends on how you view issues. “Don’t focus on the negative things, this will only amplify the problems; instead, focus on the positive,” Jessica advised.


Servicing the HK community

“In university I joined free Cantonese learning group offered by local friends on a weekly basis, watched Cantonese dramas from time to time, and now at work my colleagues have been helpful in correcting my Cantonese pronunciation. We often hold sports events together,” Jessica said.

“The BIS Alumni Association provides great support!” she added. It organizes many bonding events throughout the year such as hiking, ice-skating, and other gathering events. Jessica met most, if not all, of her peers at the association events. Her local network began here.

After graduation, Jessica remained active in the local community. She volunteered at senior homes and tutored the less privileged children for free, giving back to the community which she sees as “home.”


Gang Piao Opportunities

“I have gain practical experience from the BIS programme at CityU. I did an on-site project for a company in Shenzhen on carbon emissions where our team won the best paper. Our report “e-Government blueprint design” was published in the Outstanding Academic Paper by Students(OAPS).” From this hands-on experience Jessica learned more about the field and eventually went into the energy industry.

Working as an associate system analyst at the Technical Service Department of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, Jessica acts as a middle person transcribing technical terms into language that everyday system operators and end-users understand.


Her challenge

Speaking Cantonese remains one of her toughest challenges however. Jessica is slowly learning the language. Luckily at work she had the opportunity to chair monthly meetings in Cantonese where she has seen great improvements.

Jessica believes that the enterprise-scale system market has plenty of room for expansion at home and abroad; Hong Kong offers great opportunities to graduates and people from mainland and overseas. It has a well-developed infrastructure with ample investment projects from multinational companies.
“I go where opportunities are available,” said Jessica. While she perhaps started off drifting in as Gang Piao, like many before her she seems to have taken root in Hong Kong.


Words of advice

“Have confidence, don't worry about your ability, everyone should have their own capability to find a suitable job. Our BIS alumni association gives a lot of tips on career planning for students and alumni. Finding a job for BIS graduates wasn't a hard task as it requires specific technical skills as well as sufficient business knowledge to get into the field. The success rate is rather high!”

“Try different things, try new things. You will find out your potential to do well in other areas outside of your comfort zone. Nothing is impossible.”

(Oct 2015)