Paying it forward in Hong Kong
The alumni base in Hong Kong has so much reach. Basically, for any sort of business, we can find someone who is either in it or has been in it. It’s a six-degrees-of-separation type of place
Peter Lee (BCom and LWF ’89) is the kind of person that The Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell would call a “connector.” Based in Hong Kong, where he leads Gallant Investment Group, he is passionate about cultivating the Sauder School’s alumni network in China.
To Lee, this means paying it forward in the same way he benefited from job leads, mentorship and the principles he acquired as a student in the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation (PMF) program.
“If you can spare the time, the pleasure and joy that you get out of helping others is tremendous,” says Lee, president of the Sauder Alumni Club of Hong Kong.
There are an estimated 3,000 UBC alumni in Hong Kong, including more than 800 Sauder graduates. The Club provides a familiar point of contact for Sauder alumni, whether they are relocating or just in town for business. It hosts at least two major networking events per year as well as talks, seminars and social events, and includes a board of volunteers linked to some of the top business leaders in China.
“The alumni base in Hong Kong has so much reach. Basically, for any sort of business, we can find someone who is either in it or has been in it. It’s a six-degrees- of-separation type of place,” says Lee.
"To some of the young alumni who come to see me, I say, ‘just come out to an event. I’ll introduce you to half a dozen people and you can go from there."
In 2014, Lee saw the need to boost outreach to alumni who had lost touch with the school, not only to help strengthen ties in Hong Kong but to help grads who are working in Beijing and Shanghai.
He donated funds for a pilot co-op internship program, covering the salary and overhead costs for a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student to help organize events, manage the Club’s social media and connect with alumni. Enter Michelle Qi, a fourth-year marketing and human resources major from White Rock, BC.
Working out of UBC’s Asia Pacific Regional Office in Hong Kong, Qi connected with more than 250 grads who had not yet been listed in the alumni database. And she had such a good time in Hong Kong, she hopes to return and pursue work as an event coordinator once she graduates.
“The Sauder alumni community in Hong Kong and China is very strong. At our Christmas party last December, I stopped and looked around at my new friends and all the familiar faces. Here I was, halfway across the world— only two months before, I knew nobody— and I felt so at home,” says Qi.
The next eight-month co-op term funded by Lee started in September.
In addition to volunteering his time for Club activities and starting the internship program, Lee has supported dozens of BCom students through the Peter Lee Scholarship in Finance.
Looking back, he says the genesis of his philanthropic values comes from the PMF program and his experience as an investor.
“Three years ago, the Sauder Alumni Club of Hong Kong was basically a start-up. I tried to help lay the foundation and help alumni feel proud of the university,” says Lee.