For the second year in a row, Ken Yip Pak-ming, 17, is a Microsoft Office champion. After bringing home the gold from the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) World Champions competition for PowerPoint last summer, the Form Six Buddhist Sin Tak College student has done it again – this time in Excel.
And while sitting at a computer and putting numbers on a spreadsheet may sound like boring work – especially compared to an interactive presentation – Ken would disagree.
“Excel is actually more interesting than PowerPoint,” he told Young Post when we sat down with him after his win. “There are more macros and functions. Ninety per cent of people only use 10 per cent of its functions.”
And not only is business software interesting, it’s lucrative, too. The event, held in Orlando, in the US state of Florida, from July 29 until August 1, drew more than 760,000 candidates from 116 countries, with a US$7,000 cash prize for the winners in each of the competition's six categories.
Having already competed in the event last year, Ken had an idea of what he needed to prepare in advance, and how he needed to perform on the day of the finals itself. He practised at school, bought books and manuals to look though, and readied himself for the tasks ahead.
“You can prepare for some basic things, but not everything,” he said. “You improvise when you reach the unknown.”
But for all his experience, Ken felt more nervous this year. “I didn’t expect to win, but other people had high expectations [of me], so there was more pressure than last year.”
His previous achievement at the competition didn’t go unnoticed, either.
“I was surprised that I was recognised at the event.” he said. “The organisers had photos from the previous year on their Facebook page, and some of the staff recognised me.”
His approach to the task itself was the same as last year: a slow and steady approach that wins the race.
“We only had 50 minutes, and I couldn’t finish everything. But you still have to analyse the questions.”
He had plenty of support, as the other Hong Kong competitors were there. His ICT teacher, Yeung Ki-hoi, accompanied him on his trip last year, and was on holiday in Canada during the competition this year, but he still flew down to this year’s event to show his support.
“I’m surprised at another win,” Yeung said. “Very happy and honoured as well. It’s good that Ken is giving me more work to do!”
His family and friends also supported Ken on social media, with many tuning in to watch the live-stream of the event, and posting their congratulations on Instagram – despite the 12-hour time difference.
This year will be very busy for Ken as he prepares for his HKDSE.
“I had to give up doing some other projects,” he said. “There is a lot of homework and tests; it’s stressful. We’re counting down each day to the exams.”
To cope with the stress, he listens to music and watches comedies, but explained “the key to everything is good time management and getting enough sleep,” he added.
While there is clearly a career in tech waiting for him, should he want it, Ken still hasn’t decided what he wants to do in the future, with no plans beyond “go to university”. But, he said, he does believe in seizing every opportunity if you want to be a success.
“I started on computer things at a HK$50 workshop back in Form Two,” he said, and that class led him to where he is now.
Ken still has one more category at the contest to tackle – Word – to complete the “triple crown” of Microsoft Office Specialist.
“I might compete next year; I do want to try it,” he mused. One thing’s for sure: the other competitors had better be ready.