According to Bosco Ho, passion has been the essential ingredient in achieving success in every area of his life – as a business owner, a professional and a leader.
“I think the number one thing needed to be a leader – apart from the fact that you must have a good brain, have foresight, charisma and be hardworking – is that you’ve got to have passion for the work that you do, and a passion to look after your staff,” he tells The CEO Magazine.
“You’ve got to look after all of them because as a leader, you can’t just get information about your company through your seniors. That’s really dangerous because sometimes they’re not aware of what’s happening on the floor. You also need to understand the junior staff – their aspirations, dreams and problems.”
In particular, Bosco believes that leaders will only show their true colours and capabilities when faced with adversity – and sink or float as a result. “In times of crisis, your skill as a leader is tested – you have to not only be able to do your job, but also instil confidence in your staff,” he insists.
“Show them that you have the confidence to get through a crisis, and that you’ll rise again as a company. Courage is essential.”
Indeed, it’s not surprising that Bosco has many pearls of wisdom to offer, given that he’s honed his skills over an impressive career spanning four decades, after founding Ho & Partners Architects, Engineers & Development Consultants (hpa) in Hong Kong in 1980.
I’ve always wanted our firm to have a scientific approach to what we do, so that we can progress and work more creatively and effectively.
Eager to continue evolving and expanding, the team at hpa has tackled nearly every possible building under the sun, from luxury high-rise residences, hotels and shopping malls to hospitals, universities, sporting fields and airports in more than 60 cities across 10 countries including in the UK, Middle East and South-East Asia.
As a result, the company has established itself as an industry leader, not just in Hong Kong, but around the globe. “Over the years we’ve witnessed the opening up of China and the opportunities there for private architects, not only in Hong Kong but in Singapore and the world over,” Bosco says.
“For the first 30 years, we managed to acquire a number of projects in China and opened five branch offices there, and more recently, we’ve been working on a number of capital works projects for private developers, as well as for government. Today, we have 250 people, including architects and technicians and supporting staff, across Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Kuala Lumpur.”
Bosco recognises the importance of trusted and talented designers, especially in an industry that is dependent on people, rather than products. And while he acknowledges the inevitability of occasional human error, he appreciates that architecture is a job that can’t be completed by a machine.
“It’s difficult to ensure that your contractors do excellent workmanship onsite every time; the same from your structural engineer, building services engineer or landscape designers,” he explains.
“No matter how good you are, it’s human nature that sometimes you can be careless. Sometimes you may even miss deadlines. “Over our 40 years, we have made mistakes; sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes it’s our contractors’ fault, sometimes it’s our sub-consultants. But we mustn’t blame people – there needs to be trust between partners and contractors. While we may be unable to expect complete perfection each time, it is of paramount importance that all of us always exercise the utmost care in carrying out our work, to ensure quality and time keeping.”
At the same time, Bosco is optimistic about the benefits digital transformation can offer, especially given the constant – and rapid – advancement of cities. “We all understand that the whole world is entering a new digital era,” he points out.
“Over the past year in particular, we’ve begun the process of digital transformation. But it’s not an easy process – not just from the equipment side, but also because it’s difficult to change the culture, to swap paper for digital work. I still rely on a lot of paper drawing and paperwork myself, but my son Nicholas, who is also with the firm, is almost completely paperless.
The number one thing needed to be a leader … Is that you’ve got to have passion for the work that you do.
“It’s a difficult process to do a total digital transformation, but looking ahead to the next three to five years, if we want to prosper, we need to have foresight; this is essential. The era of having many, many new commissions every week is gone, because as a city matures, there will enter an aged property era with the availability of more renovation and alternation work. There will still be new housing, new offices, new shopping malls, but the number is declining.”
This quest for innovation is ingrained in hpa’s DNA, which is not surprising once Bosco admits that his first love was actually pure science, not architecture. “When I graduated from school, my first preference for university was to study pure science,” he reveals.
“From a young age, I’d always wanted to be a scientist. But the University of Hong Kong rejected my application and my second preference was architecture. I’ve always wanted our firm to have a scientific approach to what we do, so that we can progress and work more creatively and effectively.”
Now, as hpa prepares for a new era in architecture, Bosco is ensuring the company is adequately equipped to not only handle fresh design challenges, but also work towards predicting how our lives, and subsequently, our buildings will change over time.
“Over the past decade, we’ve been engaging not only architects, but also building surveyors and quantity surveyors to do conversion work, additions and alteration works to upgrade old properties, government properties and private sector properties. We want to make them better in terms of providing a more energy efficient and safer living environment,” he says.
“All along we have established we can be forwardthinking on design and technology and try to determine how future generations will work, rest, entertain and live.”
Proudly supported by: