Sr Philip Lo
B.Building (Distinction) Class of 1981
Fellow Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Fellow Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
RLB Chairman (North Asia Region) (2010-2018)
RLB Global Board Chairman (2013-2015)
“There has always been a demand for HKU Surveying graduates, given the high quality of alumni coming from this programme. Our alumni work in organisations of diverse nature, areas of specialisation and culture, including the government, property developers, NGOs, private surveying practices, construction companies etc. Apart from property-related organisations, some of our alumni also work for banks and financial institutions. Some are now in senior positions and are directors in many organisations, while others have become eminent academics and barristers in the property/construction field.”
I graduated from HKU Surveying in 1981 and have been in the property and construction industry for almost 40 years. Between 2010 and 2018, I was the Chairman (North Asia Region) as well as the Global Board Chairman (2013-2015) of Rider Levett Bucknall, one of the largest consultant quantity surveying practices in the world, with 500 staff in Hong Kong, 1,500 staff in Mainland China and 4,000 staff globally.
Surveying can also offer our alumni a very international career. Apart from working in China and Hong Kong, HKU Surveying alumni are also working overseas in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Many Chinese developers are investing in a variety of developments in these countries, and as surveyors with bilingual skills, professional knowledge and experience, we can bridge the gap between these developers and the local industries. For those who wish to remain in the region, the Greater Bay Area can also provide excellent opportunities for surveyors to develop their expertise and experience.
Students studying the BSc(Surveying) programme at HKU will benefit from exposure to the various other departments under the Faculty of Architecture, including Architecture, Planning, Landscape Architects etc. This interconnectedness allows our current students and alumni to maintain contact within a wide network in many different sectors of the property and construction markets around the world, and open up doors to business and employment opportunities for mutual benefit.
“Many corporations are in need of surveyors, and the need extends to government departments, developers, property owners, real estate agents, property management and consultant companies, multinationals and chain stores. Just imagine, if a company is seeking an office or a retail site, whose help should it seek? Alternatively, if the company has ample funds to invest in real estate, who should it turn to for advice? It could be said then that regardless of the nature of business of a company, it needs the advice and guidance of surveyors to some extent to help it make the best decision.”
In the past decades the finance and property market sectors have accounted for a great number in our workforce, since the development of Hong Kong (HK)’s economy depends crucially on these 2 industries. Land is scarce in HK, while its population is huge, making housing an important social issue. The supply of commercial buildings must be geared up and adequately prepared for the development of HK’s economy in the future, and as such there is a high need for surveyors to plan for the supply of land, to deploy and use this resource in the best interests of our society and economy.
Surveyors do not only occupy themselves with the sale of properties; their role in fact overarches the life cycle of the built environment in many aspects, viz: land use planning, the density of buildings in the city, buildings design, project supervision and management, cost control and budget management, land valuation, property sales, marketing, leasing, property management, maintenance etc.
Our graduates have worked in property consultant, property sales, property management, fund management, asset management, investment banks and government departments such as the Lands Department, Rating and Valuation Department, the Architectural Services Department, the Housing Department. Others work in semi-public organisations such as the MTR, the Urban Renewal Authority, the Science Park, the Housing Society etc.
Companies need advice from surveyors to varying degrees, from real estate-related issues, to matters as property investment, office leasing. If there are issues concerning property management, having studied surveying I am sure one would know how to solve the problems involved.
“The BSc(Surveying) prorgmme and the graduates are highly rated by the employers. There are abundant job opportunities for the degree holders, including the public sector, the academia, property developers, real estate funds, consultants, contractors, etc.”
I received my BSc(Surveying) degree from HKU in 1995 and have been qualified as a General Practice Surveyor. Currently, I am working in the Hong Kong Housing Society as the Director (Development & Marketing) with other professionals to serve the needs of the Hong Kong community in housing and related services. Before that, I had been participating in various real estate development and investment projects, mainly in Hong Kong and Mainland China, from my previous roles in listed property developers, a private investment company and a development consultant.
The course offers the students a broad horizon of knowledge and proficiency in equipping themselves for the future career. The curriculum diversifies from the land and property related specialism (e.g. planning and building technology), to the commercial aspects (e.g. economics and financing), and the business environment (e.g. law and management) too. The module of Surveying Studio provides a platform to integrate all these elements and simulate the real world for the young learners.
The programme and the graduates are highly rated by the employers. There are abundant job opportunities for the degree holders, including the public sector, the academia, property developers, real estate funds, consultants, contractors, etc.
In brief, the unique structure and content of the BSc(Surveying) programme incubate the undergraduates to become not only the professional practitioners but also the industry leaders.
“The BSc(Surveying) Programme offered by HKU is the only programme in HK accredited by 5 professional surveying divisions under the HKIS. Graduates could accordingly specialise in the General Practice, Quantity Surveying, Building Surveying divisions etc., while I joined the General Practice stream. Having acquired 2 years of relevant working experience, I took the HKIS and RICS exams to obtain a professional licence in surveying, and I passed both with only one sitting!”
During my 4 years of undergraduate studies in the Department of Real Estate and Construction, not only did I benefit from learning much useful knowledge via a variety of extra-curricular activities, my university life was also enriched by being an executive member of the Surveying Society, a hall resident, and participating in overseas student exchange programmes. My most memorable experience was a 6-month exchange in the United Kingdom (UK), which exposed me to the local lifestyle and learning culture, and developed my independence. After the UK residence, my friends and I toured Europe and the land development projects of different countries. Naturally, I also made friends of different nationalities. A truly unforgettable experience.
In addition to the above, the Department encourages students to be exposed to work related to our programme. During my 4 years as an undergraduate I worked twice as a summer intern, from which I learned the different aspects of various surveying divisions, allowing me to decide on the work that best suits my career on graduation.
For me, studying in a university is not only about landing the ideal job, but also about enjoying the varied aspects of university life to widen my horizons. I am fortunate to have selected the BSc(Surv) programme, and to have lived my life to the fullest in my 4 years of study!
“My four years studying BSc(Surveying) at HKU are some of my best and most enriching experience to date. The most prominent memories I have at HKU revolve around early mornings spent practising interhall softball games, case competition brainstorming over the nights, and of course, the starry nights at Marina Bay Singapore where exchangers of different ethnicities learnt about each other’s culture, and shared our dreams and visions.”
Life at HKU is full of possibilities. Students freely brainstorm and visualise their wildest ideas, predicting property price trends with big data or even submitting a VR animation as a deliverable! Graduating from BSc(Surv) opens up the vast and closely connected alumni network of surveyors who together with Faculty Members are always there to support, counsel and even secure us placements. Pursuing a career in the business world as a surveyor is indeed a well-worn track – the well-respected profession and rigorous critical thinking capability developed will give you unmatched competitive advantages.
“Although I didn’t pursue the conventional surveyor path after graduation, I am still grateful that BSc(Surv) has equipped me with the industry knowledge that taps me into the real estate investment and finance industry, which helps me to land a job in Standard Chartered Bank.”
I regard university education as lens to better understand myself and the world – Although I didn’t pursue the conventional surveyor path after graduation, I am still grateful that BSc(Surv) has equipped me with the industry knowledge that taps me into the real estate investment and finance industry, which helps me to land a job in Standard Chartered Bank.
Apart from equipping students with practical knowledge, the programme also values students’ personal development and international exposure and by encouraging us to take part in competitions and offering lots of exchange opportunities.
My classmates and I once flew to Vancouver to compete in Sauder Summit Global Case Competition at University of British Columbia with other top-notch universities. Within a week, we built an investment thesis for a real estate project in Chicago and presented it in front of a panel of developers and industry experts from the US and Canada. Without the guidance and support from our professors (i.e. answering our calls at 3am HKT), we definitely would not have been bold enough to take on this challenge.
My exchange experience at the University of York was definitely once-in-a-lifetime. Besides schoolwork, I had the chance to backpack to 17+ countries in 6 months and learnt snowboarding in the Alps. Taking the time to explore the world, which I believe to be of significant incremental value to our personal growth, offered me a new perspective towards life. In retrospect, it was undoubtedly the highlight of my student years.