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Flying to a Higher Future

Flying to a Higher Future

Max Leung 梁博BEng(CivE) Year 4


Edna Lee 李妍慧BA Year 4

This past summer, Max and Edna were amongst the 80 students from local and overseas tertiary education institutions for six-to-eight-week internships in different departments of the Airport Authority (AA).  


Max Leung admitted that he isn't a "born engineer". Like many of his classmates, he is just following the most obvious path for a science student. While he is interested in engineering, he hasn't made up his mind whether this is the career that he wants to ultimately pursue. But this has all changed after his stint at the Airport Authority (AA) as a summer intern.


"The internship at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is really an eye-opening experience," Max said. Initially, he didn't expect that the internship would be anything more than filing, data processing or other types of nitty gritty jobs as many people experienced in other companies. However, the airport is a unique working environment and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise and something that might change his life.


Assigned to the Reclamation Team of the Third Runway Division of AA, he was amazed to have the opportunity to participate in one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of Hong Kong.


"This could probably be a dream project for any engineer. I am very proud to be a member of the team, and I believe I have a clearer vision of my future," Max said.


Learning the large-scale airport project ropes

During his time with the AA, Max relished the chance to participate in meetings reviewing the progress and operations of the three-runway system (3RS) project, contingency planning, and typhoon evacuation debriefing sessions with parties including marine consultants and reclamation contractors. He also gained first-hand experience on learning about the safe and proper operation of construction vessels, particularly the Deep Cement Mixing (DCM) barges.


Max said he once took a transportation infrastructure engineering course in university which gave him the chance to visit the airport where he learnt about the 3RS project for the first time.


"I know that it's a difficult project, but when I get an up-close look, its scale and complexity are beyond my imagination," he said. By participating in several internal and external meetings, Max said the real difficulty lies not in the humongous technical difficulties of the project, but in the seamless communication with the multiple stakeholders involved. 


Working in the world of passenger retail

Finding herself on the same boat - or aircraft - as Max, Edna was also unsure of her career path until she joined the AA as a summer intern. A Korean Studies major, Edna is fond of the Korean culture. But what she really admires about the country is not K-pop or oppa (meaning "older brother"), but its enormous success in retail and marketing. "I like travelling and have also been passionate about the retail culture of different countries."


Edna was a perfect fit for the AA's Retail and Advertising Department where she spent her internship. As an integral part of her role, Edna conducted market research on promotional strategies of local malls such as seasonal and festive offers of customer loyalty programmes to help fine tune the airport's own promotional activities.


"After gathering all the facts, I needed to compile and present them in a more systematic and persuasive way to help other people formulate strategies and make decisions," she said.


Edna was particularly excited to have had the chance to talk to the airport's tenants and customers, probably the two most important stakeholders when it comes to designing marketing initiatives. "My internship experience has made me appreciate the importance of communication and critical thinking in managing customers' expectations, especially when our customers are from all over the world.”


Text and photo: HK Airport News, August 2017, Issue 111

My internship experience has made me appreciate the importance of communication and critical thinking in managing customers' expectations, especially when our customers are from all over the world.