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The giant rubber duck gracing Victoria Harbour made a splash in the city. Little was it kown that rubber ducks were in existence in Hong Kong as early as the 1940’s. As the ‘founding father’ of local rubber duck, Mr. Lam Leung, an industrialist, was invited to the sharing session hosted by BPA. He shared with 50 youngsters the stories of founding his own business. This event served as an integral part of BPA’s summer internship programme to cultivate team spirit among the youth.
$800: the first pot of gold
Living in the War-ravaged and debilitated Hong Kong, Mr. Lam Leung had already started to consider his career prospect in his first job. He reminded the teenagers that career prospect should be of the most important consideration while looking for a job. In 1946, Mr. Lam gave up a chance to work in a bank with a monthly salary of $120, but took the job offer from a publisher which provided him only $60 per month. Yet, this publisher provided him opportunities to collect overseas pictorials and to earn some commissions through goods trading. “I had a chance to work in Central and build a connection with tycoons and intellectuals. This became a turning point.” The English skills and networks acquired in this job eventually became an asset when Mr. Lam started his own business.
Mr. Lam hit his first pot of gold from a sale and purchase of property –a commission of $800 which equaled to the total of his annual income and bonus. He saved $5,000 as his seed capital and launched his own business within 2 years. Mr. Lam firmly believes that ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ He encouraged the youngsters to embrace challenges and not to fear setbacks. Diligence and humility will pay off while others’ confidence will be built up gradually.
With electronic gadgets prevailing as top consumer goods, will traditional toys come to the end of their life span? Mr. Lam did not agree “unless an infant knows how to play with a tablet, or else traditional toys are irreplaceable. Traditional toys deliver play experiences that cannot be replicated on a tablet. Besides, toys can serve as gifts, souvenirs or decorations. Therefore, variability of toys is the key to creativity.”
Change means Innovation
Mr. Lam has been staying in the toy industry for the joy that toys can bring. He thinks that creativity does not necessarily mean creating from nothing. Observation and eagerness to improve make a difference as well. ‘In 1957, when I was passing through a shopping mall, the Lilli dolls in a display window became my new business idea,” Mr. Lam said. As intellectual property did not attach as great weight as today, he manufactured new dolls with modifications and various costumes. His dolls even had an earlier appearance than Barbie dolls.
Mr. Lam suggested innovation meant change. He added that he proposed “Change” as his slogan 50 years ago, much earlier than Obama. Until today, Mr. Lam has lots of plans to contribute society by rebranding rubber ducks. He is planning to cooperate with NGOs to organize a charity rubber duck sale for youths. The charity sale will be a platform for both business operation learning and donation for needy students.
Apart from sharing the pearls of Mr. Lam’s wisdom, he also outlined the history and prospects of Hong Kong toy industry, as well as paraded classic ‘Made in Hong Kong’ toys. The participants enjoyed a lot from the sharing session. As an integral part of BPA’s summer internship programme, student interns will get their hands on on-the-job tasks including promotion, design and logistics.
Highlights of Sharing Session (Youtube):