Lessons in prioritizing others — Dinner with Prof. Timothy W. Tong, President of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career, where we get a glimpse into their mentality behind their ventures.
Graduated from Oregon State University and furthering his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Prof. Timothy W. Tong is the President of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Being an expert in the field of heat transfer, he is also part of a number of academic societies including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences.
Prof. Tong doesn’t just devote himself to academics, he actively participates in public affairs, serves on several organizations, including the Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Relations of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Public Service Commission of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, just to name a few.
Over dinner, Prof. Tong shared with us what led him down the path of education and what drives him forward.
Is there a life motto you live by?
I wouldn’t say a motto but I do have a rule that I live by. I think it’s something that should apply to everyone. There are many ways which you can make a living. Choose the one that bears meaning for you. For me, that turned out to be education, for you, it would probably be something else. No matter what you decide to do in the end,
do it with the intention to help other people.
Don’t just think about getting ahead of others. Instead, pull people along with you.
What is one habit that significantly improved your life?
One habit that does seem to be helping me out quite a bit is my decision to make myself available to others, no matter how busy I am.
When people knock on my door, I try to make myself available.
In the past 9 years or so, I have had 17 university students assigned as my mentees, and they all came from different universities. Considering my career and the number of mentees I have to cater for, it is rather time consuming but still I try my best to make time for them.
If you are to teach one thing, what would it be?
Ethics. No doubt about that. I have actually given multiple lectures on this subject since becoming a university president.
Being smart is not enough, you also have to have a high ethical standard.
Else it would lead you down the wrong path and sooner or later you would get yourself into heaps of trouble.
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This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium: https://timeauction.medium.com/lessons-in-prioritizing-others-dinner-with-prof-39b10625f738