Achiever's challenge

Achiever's challenge

Since winning the Student of the Year award, Jolie Chow has balanced her career with hobbies

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Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP
When Jolie Chow Mei-kwan won SCMP's Student of the Year Award in 2002, she was a 17-year-old student at St Paul's Convent School. She was an all-rounder who earned nine As in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Exam, and enjoyed dancing, singing, poetry recital and debating. She also found time to serve the community and do charity work.

After she graduated from secondary school, she was accepted by both the University of Hong Kong and Yale University in the US. She chose Yale because she wanted to explore the world and achieve her life goals.

At university, she found she had a passion for economics and international studies, and earned an internship with Morgan Stanley. In 2006, she joined the company and was sent to Harvard Business School to complete a two-year master of business administration programme. She is now an associate in the investment banking division at Morgan Stanley.

What the Student of the Year Award has meant to me

"It was a very meaningful award for me. It recognised my achievements and, more importantly, set me up as a role model. I felt a sense of responsibility towards my fellow students," says Chow, now 29.

Be grateful for what you have

With all the success throughout her life, Chow has always remained grateful.

"I'm very lucky. I've been surrounded by the best people in every field throughout my life. When I was a student in Hong Kong and overseas, I learned from the best teachers. Now, in my investment banking career, I'm learning from very experienced and talented bosses and colleagues."

Above all, she is most grateful for her parents' unfailing support through her ups and downs.

"My parents are my role models. They made me grounded and shaped me into a positive, cheerful person. The most important lesson I've learned from my mum is to treasure what I have - right here and right now."

"My parents gave me the freedom to explore my many interests, which helped me to be independent. I think all parents should learn to let their children take risks. This is the way we learn best and find out what we truly want in life."

Learn to prioritise your life

Working in an international company means a lot of challenges and a busy schedule. Even so, Chow is determined to give her best and show a positive, cheerful spirit.

"Who isn't busy in Hong Kong? The key, as my mother taught me, is to prioritise and focus on what's important in life. If you learn to do that, you'll find plenty of time on your side. For example, spending time with my family every week is very important, and I prioritise that."

While many people give up their hobbies once they enter the workplace, Chow has kept hers alive to keep her life balanced.

"I still dance occasionally for fun. And I now sing with an amateur a cappella group. We perform regularly and it's fun. Dancing and singing to me are forms of communication, and communication is what I do with people every day."

What we all need to know

"No one is entitled to anything, so don't take anything for granted. Find out what you want in life by asking the right questions, and then search for the answers to your questions."

What makes a Grand Prize winner

"Academic and non-academic excellence is just a basic requirement. Students today are all very smart. But what make you stand out are your leadership skills and your passion. Are you willing to go out of your comfort zone and initiate change? Are you passionate about what you do?

"Your character also counts. Are you someone with a good character and positive attitude, who is polite and diligent, and not constantly comparing yourself with others but just doing your best?"

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