The President’s Award – Patrick Poon

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The President’s Award was presented to Patrick Poon on 24 June 2021 in recognition of his philanthropy, support, and vision for the IFoA and profession over four decades, and in particular for being the Chief Philanthropist of the IFoA Foundation’s China and South-East Asia Fund and the Chief Sponsor of the inaugural IFoA’s Thought Leadership Programme in 2021.

Why did you become an actuary?

As a Mathematics and Chemistry graduate, I wanted to become a professional that is related to my interest and ability.  So I left a safe government executive officer job to work as an actuarial trainee in an insurance company.  I passed my Institute exams but worked only as an actuary for 3 months.  Worked as an insurance management executive in my life thereafter before my retirement.  Never really became an actuary!

Can you tell us a story from your childhood that inspires you to be what you are today?

My parents are always generous to assist friends and relatives even though we were poor. They influenced my philanthropic endeavours.

My primary school Mathematics teacher inspired my interest in Mathematics.  She praised me in front of the class for my high scores in homework.

If you can share three pieces of encouragement and advice to young students, what would that be?

  • Have an interest in whatever you are doing, especially those tasks you are forced to perform (like exams, orders from superiors…)
  • Recognise that you are competing with yourself rather than others in most situations. Improve yourself every day.
  • Have confidence that the future is always better than now.

 

Can you tell us the biggest regret or mistake you have made, and what you learnt from it?

Did not spend enough time with my parents. Lesson: parents are the most important people in our lives.  Repay and take care of them while we have the opportunity.

You have been very successful, what else would you like to achieve?

I just did what I thought I needed to do.  Not really any success.  I will continue to help the community to improve.

You have been generous with your philanthropic efforts. How can we encourage more successful actuaries to do this?

Share things that we don’t need helps the environment and releases resources for future development.  Actuaries should be leading philanthropic efforts as we have the public recognition as clever decision-makers.  We can create a bigger impact for others to follow.

If there is one thing you like to see changed in the IFoA and the profession, what will that be?

The application of actuarial knowledge to more fields of human endeavour.

What can Chinese actuaries do more of?

Like all actuaries, we can do more to upgrade our profession through the acquisition of more scientific knowledge, application and development of fellow actuaries. Many Chinese values and ways of thinking could add to further our professional development.

What do you do enjoy most in your retirement now?

My golf games with my wife.  My mah-jong games with my friends and my recreational mathematics puzzles come a close second. Like Andrew Smith, I like Martin Gardner’s puzzle books.

Can you attach a 100-word CV – try to cover aspects which are interesting and not too widely known!

I had a very rewarding corporate career spanning senior roles across China and South-East Asia in AIA Malaysia and Hong Kong, Aetna Life Taiwan, ING An Tai Life Insurance, ING Insurance and eventually China Pacific Life Insurance Company before I retired from executive roles in 2011.

I am pleased to be recognized as “The Hong Kong Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award” in 1984, the “Outstanding Manager Award (CEO and President Category)” in 1988, “The KT Li Medal of Management” in 1997, the “Order of Brilliant Star Medal” in 1999, the “Best Insurance Leadership Award” and the “Personality of the Year” award at the Asia Insurance Industry Awards in 2000. Awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star by Hong Kong Government.

Board member of five universities in Hong Kong.  Chairman of the Foundation for three of them.

Became Chairman of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta this year.