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those days, records were generally kept in fil-
ing cabinets, not on hard drives or floppy disks.
Chan’s efforts were rewarded with a pro-
motion to vice president of finance. Then a
job offer came from Digital Equipment Cor-
poration, an industry giant in the same elite
stratosphere as IBM at that time.
Joining the computer company, says
Chan, meant a chance to learn more skills
and experience different disciplines. “ They
figured the way to compete with IBM was
not just on technology. They wanted to get
into the finance department and into the
mindset of the chief financial officer and
controllers, to help them sell their systems.
“Digital picked around 25 to 30 senior
finance people and trained them on prod-
ucts and selling techniques. I was fortunate
enough to be selected into that training pro-
gramme, and I learned a lot about the selling
side, understanding customer requirements,”
recalls Chan, who then moved to California
and started selling with the sales team there.
“It was great. I enjoyed those three years as
it enabled me to gain invaluable exposure
into the selling side and customer’s mindset,
which prepared me well in my subsequent
finance career developments.”
A later promotion with the company
meant a move back to Hong Kong to over-
see the finance function of the newly set
up Asia-Pacific system integration services
division. The job involved, among other du-
ties, training project managers in finance so
that they had a clear picture of the cost-reve-
In that job, Chan gained more and more
exposure to China and, when Compaq later
acquired Digital, the new bosses targeted
him as the perfect person to oversee opera-
tions in the country from Beijing.
That was in 1998 and – apart from a short
spell in Hong Kong – he has been in the capi-
tal ever since.
Today, he lives close to the iconic CCTV
tower, a short downtow n commute from the
World Gold Council corporate offices in the
Raffles City Beijing Office Tower. Chan has
watched China grow to be the number t wo
economy in the world and its capital meta-
morphose from a dour centre of bureaucracy
to a thriving – and very polluted – metropo-
lis of 20 million people.
Despite the drawbacks, Chan enjoys
living in Beijing and points out its cultural
riches and the relatively slower pace of life
compared with Hong Kong.
“For me, this job is a once-in-a -lifetime
opportunity,” says Chan. “ The gold industry
is slower in comparison to the high-tech in-
dustry, but the more I find out, the more it
excites me and the reason is that gold plays
such a role in the whole economy.”
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