A Higher Calling

A Higher Calling

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Joyce Yip investigates why Sun Hung Kai Financial’s former e-business head made a career leap to serve a greater power.

Mun Shing Cheong’s hair is tucked into a perfect roll behind her head and she is dressed head-to heel in white, complemented by a pair of pearl earrings. She is well versed in travel, fashion, technology, design, yoga – it’s almost impossible to find something she hasn’t already successfully dipped her feet in.

Yet underneath the superwoman demeanour is a cheery philanthropist who has built schools in Cambodian slums, painted murals in beaten down churches in Vietnam and joined missionaries in Mozambique. It’s also the side of Cheong that has prompted her to quit her highpaying position as e-business head at Sun Hung Kai Financial for a role in The Alpha Course – a Christian NGO in Kuala Lumpur.

“It is a huge shift from where I am now – I’m at the height of my career, I have a good job, a good lifestyle, why would I want to leave that? But it was God’s calling,” says Cheong, a Christian of three years and a six-year SHKF veteran.

Though the fine print of her new role as The Alpha Course’s Asia Pacific head of media is yet to be determined, she hopes to draw in younger audiences by digitising the NGO’s outreach materials – which are mainly distributed in hard copies. Despite the 180-degree change of environment, Cheong will still be doing the same things she has been doing for SHKF, when the then e-business department only had their sights on traditional above-the-line and search engine marketing.

So her mandate was to put the brand on mobile with a programme that is “custom-made, raises the bar and sets standards”.

“We didn’t want to throw out something and say we have an app. We want to make something that’s functional, something world-class,” she says.

A mobile app has become a bare necessity

Mun Shing Cheong
Sun Hung Kai Financial’s former e-business head

Such was the mindset behind the SHKF eMO! app that launched in December 2011. It became the only mobile stock exchange programme that allowed members and nonmembers to trade and monitorstocks directly on the app rather than redirecting users to the platform’s website, which was what its competitors were offering at the time.

“What we did was quite groundbreaking back then, and seeing the app go from inception to something that gained industry
recognition among our competitors was amazing,” she says.

And she has every reason to be proud.

As the pioneer in the industry, SHKF eMO!’s success not only underlines Cheong’s ability to dodge the regulatory red tape that often delays financial institution’s leap to digital, but also her spot-on foresight.

“As the older generation phases out, we’re left with people who grew up in the Solomoco generation,” she says. “What was previously a value-added item – such as a mobile app– has become a bare necessity.”

But now, this is all in the past as Cheong’s days at SHKF drew to an end and as she leaves what she called her “worldly self” behind in pursuit of a greater power. “I don’t know where I will go next. But for now, I want to dedicate my time to God.”

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