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Ryan worked as an intern in a quality management company when he was studying our accounting programme. After graduation and some twists and turns, he became a full-time staff member there, responsible for accounting-related work. Later, when the company started to develop its aviation security business, Ryan also stepped into the field of aviation logistics. ‘There were lots of business opportunities. All the proposed projects had been developed jointly by me and my supervisor, and were brand new in the market,’ he recalled. Ryan treasured every opportunity in his workplace and stayed in the company for 13 years, reaching the post of general manager.

Having moved up the career ladder fast in the company, Ryan had never considered venturing outside. However, when the Government amended relevant regulations and he came up with new business ideas, he figured out that his goals and aspirations were different from those of his boss. ‘I began to think that I shouldn’t limit myself within a box; so I jumped out and did what I wanted to do,’ he said. Ryan confessed jokingly that he couldn’t sit still for long and hated doing things repeatedly. He set up his own business in 2019 and established two companies with different lines of businesses. ‘I hadn’t realized till then that I’m an adventurer,’ he added.

Swift responses during the pandemic

Everything went smoothly and business was stable in the beginning, but the towering wave that could sink his boat came unexpectedly. ‘The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been extremely severe, and our business has been hard-hit,’ he said with a sigh. APCA Aviation Service Ltd, one of the companies he founded, originally targeted popular ‘Industry 4.0’ projects in recent years. When the pandemic arrived, all investors pulled back and business partners in mainland China retreated. Ryan knew there was no room for hesitation and he had to move swiftly and decisively with appropriate strategies. Noting that overseas airline companies had a tough time managing their operations in Hong Kong remotely when strict anti-pandemic measures were introduced, he jumped at the new opportunity to enter a new line of business and led his team to connect them with cargo terminals and assist in matters such as warehouse inspection. ‘We worked as quickly and efficiently as a ‘‘machine translator’’ in accordance with the modi operandi in Hong Kong and mainland China, so as to minimize the turnaround time of an aircraft after landing at Hong Kong International Airport,’ he explained. His successful business transformation resulted not only from a keen market sense, but also his ability to mobilize flexibly close ties with business partners around the world as well as a team of staff with solid experience in logistics management. At present, the company focuses on services related to air transportation and is becoming more international.

Tailor-made innovative services

In exploring new business opportunities, Ryan admitted that he just moved forward through trial and error. He observed closely industry needs and tried to find solutions for practical problems, avoiding operational inertia while tailoring new services to meet those needs. Accounting Plus Corporate Advisory Ltd, the company run by Ryan and his university classmates Leung Cheuk-wai and Lee Chung-kit, provides comprehensive consultancy services in such areas as corporate consulting, accounting and taxation, and aviation security. He explicated, ‘We are the only company with a wide range of services covering airlines, air freight, cargo terminals and warehouses in the industry.’ Ryan has not worked all the way up from the bottom in the logistics and air transportation industries, but it instead allows him to think out of the box and exploring new business opportunities had become his passion. ‘The businesses that I’ve developed so far were not in the market before. I don’t compete with others for existing businesses,’ he said with confidence.

The logistics and air transportation industries had been in dire straits during the pandemic, and Ryan did not shy away from saying that his company had been no exception. ‘Last year, we had no income at all for four to five months. I had wavered and wondered if I should continue the business.’ But he bit the bullet and insisted on not cutting wages or laying off staff. Now the company has already balanced its books and has signed several contracts, ensuring there will be stable income to support further expansion.

‘Looking back at the ups and downs of the past two years, we turned things around mainly by moving beyond the logistics industry to serve other corporate clients,’ he affirmed. Constant market observation and frequent communication with business partners are also keys to his bounce back. ‘Every dialogue is meaningful. The ideas exchanged then may come in handy any time.’ Ryan and his team are now building an online payment platform for logistics companies, air cargo terminals and shipping firms. The idea actually came up from a chat with business partners.

Embracing the big trend in logistics

The pandemic has changed business operations and personal life patterns, with online shopping becoming increasingly popular. Ryan firmly said, ‘Every part of this changing trend involves logistics. I believe logistics and air transportation will become more and more important.’ The future of the industry is boundless and he encouraged young people to become a part of it. But he underlined that the new joiners ‘must not be lazy’. He took a bill as an example. ‘It’s like a cheque! Any single mistake may delay the delivery of goods, ruin a company’s reputation or even lead to lawsuits for compensation.’ Another example is the ordinances and regulations related to dangerous goods which have to be remembered by heart. ‘This is in fact a job requiring expertise and every move has to be made cautiously,’ he stressed.

Whether as an employee or business entrepreneur, Ryan’s sincere advice to fellow alumni was: ‘Communication, listening, putting yourself in others’ shoes, choice of words and finding solutions together are most important.’ He believed that experiences gained from being an employee or entrepreneur – or starting from scratch again – were what we had to go through in life as we grew up. We must always learn from experience and that’s the cardinal rule. Ryan understands that his adventurous spirit has pushed him to move forward courageously, and at the same time he always reminds himself that too much haste may lead to misjudgment. ‘Risk taking may result in injury. I’ve learnt to be more humble, conscientious and meticulous.’