For Andy Sun, one of Timson's like-minded teammates, his most memorable experience with Irene was in a recent case competition. The night before the required paper was due, he was overwhelmed by the amount of still-unsorted work. Breaking down in tears, he gave Irene a ring. “There was no particular reason for that,” recalls Andy. “I just thought of her and made the call without a second thought.” It was a Saturday evening, but Irene picked up the call in the middle of a gathering of friends and calmed the student down right away.
A role model to look up to
The students also look up to Irene as a powerful role model. As Jason Wong expresses, “I want to gain her recognition in various respects because she sets the standard — and she always knows whether we're up to standard. I won't doubt myself as long as I get her approval.”
A life mentor and a best friend
Irene's concern for her students has attracted many of them to seek her advice in the face of life decisions. This is especially true for Yo Yo, who was exceptionally admitted into the A-Team by Irene when she was just in Year 1 and remained on team for four years. “When I was a student and after I started working, she's always been there,” she says. Indeed, Irene even went as far as to deliver a ticket for the graduation ceremony at the door of Yo Yo's workplace with her husband, knowing that the graduate was too tied up to pick it up on campus. For Yo Yo, “Irene is not just a university professor. She's my life mentor and even my second Mama.” There is nothing she will keep from her mentor.
The apprentices' heartfelt words left Irene in joyful tears and sometimes embarrassing smiles. “I don't want them to call me Mama,” Irene says with a chuckle. “And I don't actually think I'm treating my students much better than other teachers do. I just do as I would naturally, regarding them as my friends. As teacher and students, all connections end with graduation, but friendships are much longer lasting.” Like friends, Irene knows the temperaments, strengths and weakness of her individual students. This has allowed her to place them in suitable positions in which they can achieve their best.
Yo Yo Chan Hiu-tung (Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Business Intelligence and Analytics 2022, A-Team member 2018–2022)
Timson Lau Tin-san (Year 2, Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Global Marketing and Supply Chain Management, A-Team member from 2023)
Andy Sun Andi (Year 4, Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Professional Accounting, A-Team member from 2021)
Jason Wong Chun-san (Year 3, Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Professional Accounting, A-Team member from 2022)