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The question at the top of mind for most graduating students is, "How do I get a good job at a big company?" But not for Luke Tam. He was concerning himself with an entirely different question: "How can I use my business knowledge to contribute to the community?"
This question led him down a very different path to that of his peers. After graduating with a degree in marketing and information systems in 2015, Luke could have easily built a successful corporate career for himself. However, he had chosen this subject for a different reason. "I saw the power of marketing to connect people," he explains. "I knew this skill would be crucial for community projects."
In fact, connection was the driving force behind many of Luke's life decisions, including the decision to start his own initiative, KaiFong Tour, 2017. Today, KaiFong Tour is an award-winning social enterprise that organizes local neighborhood tours to facilitate connection and understanding among the diverse communities of Hong Kong. The work is as fulfilling as it is challenging. "As a social entrepreneur, you have to be flexible," Luke smiles. "The work I do changes every day, depending on what situation arises."
Luke’s family had received the government's Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme when he was young. "I experienced firsthand what a difference community services make. I always knew I wanted to do something with my life that would help others."
His first opportunity to help others came at secondary school, when he joined the Sham Shui Po Outstanding Students Association, which brought together about 20 student leaders from different schools. "We did leadership training, held district forums about social issues, and organized activities to help disadvantaged groups," Luke explains. Today, he works with secondary school students through KaiFong Tour, helping them realize the impact they can make in society – even as teenagers.
During his university years, Luke received a number of awards in recognition of his remarkable contributions to social services. He also took several edifying internships with charitable organizations including The Good Lab, a social innovation consultancy, and Teach for HK, an NGO that increases access to quality education by enlisting university graduates to serve at underprivileged schools. After graduation, he joined the Golden Age Foundation and later worked as a project manager at The Good Lab.
Reflecting on his journey, Luke says, "The advice I'm given by NGO owners is to hope I can quit my job one day," he smiles. "Because the work exists as long as the problem exists. If we do our jobs well, maybe in a few decades' time, there will be no need to organize tours to help disparate groups connect with each other. My dream is that one day, everyone in Hong Kong, no matter how different they are, can live together with empathy, understanding, and trust."
Know more about Luke's story from HKUST Alumni Magazine - Spring 2020 issue