A Conversation With Danny Wong, HOK’s Hong Kong Director of Operations
Danny Wong, RIBA, is the director of operations in HOK’s Hong Kong office. In this Q+A, he discusses managing projects and client relationships in China.
What is the outlook for architecture and design in China?
DW: Over the past two decades, I have witnessed great changes resulting from rapid developments across China. The cityscapes and landscape of many cities and regions have been transformed. This provided the opportunities of a lifetime for architects and design professionals. I believe urbanization and urban development will continue in China, and will continue to provide wonderful opportunities. The market will be stronger than ever.
China is a vast country with a huge population. Currently, the most developed areas are concentrated in the large cities and coastal regions. The less-developed cities and regions will adopt their development models, improving on past developments by incorporating lessons learned. We’re expecting an increase in science and technology, healthcare, education and cultural projects.
What challenges do you typically face on projects?
The biggest challenges related to the differences in cultures. We cannot change any group’s social concepts or culture. We can only work with each other based on mutual acceptance and respect.
It’s important to understand the goals and core requirements of our clients while consistently explaining our approach and ideas. Our clients in China are diverse. One consistent part of the experience is that we build mutual trust with our clients so we have the types of relationships we would have with a friend.
Based on your diverse project management experience in the Asia Pacific region, how do the needs of Chinese clients differ?
The needs of Chinese clients are not very different from those outside China. Their biggest difference may be the investment environment, which is greatly influenced by the unique political, social and development circumstances here.
Many of our Chinese clients often require a super fast-track design and development schedule. Some clients want to reduce the initial investment period and move into a return period as early as possible. Others want to complete their projects while the investment environment is still favorable.
Given your busy work and travel schedule, how do you achieve work-life balance?
I have always been a workaholic. Because my work gives me a lot of joy, I never need to deliberately seek that so-called ‘balance.’
I am also very lucky. God gave me a lovely son. Every day when I return home from work, seeing him allows me to completely forget all my troubles.