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The positive life: How to make out in Hong Kong

Carol Yao, alumni stories
MSc Business Information Systems (Stream A)’12
Carol Yao

Carol Yao is, like many of her generation in mainland China, an only child. She chose to leave her hometown, Guangzhou, after just one year of full-time work and came alone to Hong Kong to pursue postgraduate study. Keen to take on challenges and try out new things, she hopes she has escaped the classic trap of the only child: a feeling of entitlement.

Thinking out of the box

Carol received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Normal University, majoring in Applied Psychology. After graduation, she worked for China Resources (Holdings) Co. Ltd. in Shenzhen for a year and then decided to take a master’s programme in Hong Kong - but in a new discipline. Carol accepted the offer of a place on the MSc in Business Information Systems from the Department of Information Systems at CityU in 2011.

“I made the decision myself without consulting my parents. I just told them I had received the offer from CityU. At first they were shocked.”

But Carol’s parents knew their daughter well and supported her.

“They knew I was determined. More importantly, they believed that I should take the opportunity to widen my horizons, especially at an age when career development isn’t paramount.”

As a Cantonese speaker, life in Hong Kong did not present difficulties linguistically. She enjoyed all aspects of her one-year stay; the learning atmosphere, the entertainment, the lifestyle. And she found it easy to meet new people, both from Hong Kong and overseas.

“I believe positive thinking can help one face any challenge. When I encountered difficulties, I would think outside the box to find new ways forward. I love to meet new friends from different places. It is interesting exchanging views and cultural values. It does not mean we have to force others to accept one’s opinion; it is all about respect. Hong Kong has its own advantages which encourages free thinking and open-mindedness. People enjoy various freedoms in daily life. This is what all people should treasure.”

Ready for challenges

Before joining Deloitte Hong Kong as a specialist, Carol worked in various leading international enterprises in Hong Kong such as HSBC and KPMG. Unlike common beliefs, she thinks future plans are not a priority.

“I don’t think it is necessary to have a plan right now. There are lot of uncertainties ahead and even if I plan, things will probably change. So I tend to work and live for now. I choose to walk one step at a time. Life is full of challenges and I welcome it.”

The job at Deloitte is busy and overtime work is required. But Carol doesn’t feel stressed at all as she has got used to this life style. Her advice to students planning to study abroad:

“Make sure you are mature enough to handle challenges – in study and in life. When I was in Guangzhou I could share everything with my parents and ask for their advice whenever I wanted. However, I have started to look after myself when I came to Hong Kong. Living alone has pros and cons so we have to adjust our mind set in order to move forward with fewer obstacles. You cannot isolate yourself when you are in a new community.”

Carol is part of the generation born in the late 20th century, but she chooses to live in a positive spirit. And the absence of a master plan allows her to relax and remain flexible.

For Carol, attitude is everything. How about you?

(May 2015)