Fathers and Sons at Hactl

Hactlink has previously looked at couples who have met at Hactl, and continue working together. But in this edition, we look at another unusual family phenomenon: the fathers who are followed into Hactl by their sons. Actually, it’s the biggest compliment the company could be paid by staff — that one generation likes working at Hactl enough to encourage the next generation to take up employment here, too. As Father's Day is celebrated in June, we talk to two of these father/son duos at Hactl — Lee Sing Fai (Lee) and Li Wong Yuk (Leo); and Chan Sui Yin (Chan) and Chan Chi Ho Enzo (Enzo) — about what it’s like to work so closely with family.

Lee Sing Fai
Li Wong Yuk

Naughty boy, serious father

Leo’s father is a practical man of few words, while Leo is outgoing and chatty; and they work in different departments. Perhaps that’s why colleagues often don’t realise they are actually father and son. “Some of my colleagues were curious about why I occasionally leave the terminal with an ‘uncle’,” says Leo. And, even when he revealed his little “secret” to his workmates, they thought it was a joke — until he proved it by showing them a family photo on his mobile phone.

In his father’s eyes, Leo will always be the naughty boy. In primary school, Leo was very playful; once he played football with some older (and larger) secondary school students, and broke his arm during the match. A concerned Lee rushed to the hospital, but was too angry to talk to Leo for the whole afternoon. “He was extremely playful and didn’t even care about his own safety,” says Lee — now with a wry smile.

When I was looking for a job, I definitely wouldn’t have taken Hactl into account if my father had not been working here, and I certainly wouldn’t have joined it after graduation.

Father Lee started his career at Hactl 28 years ago, when the company was still based at the old Kai Tak Airport. Ever the strong, silent type, Lee focuses on performing his duty as a tractor driver, transporting cargo between the terminal and aircraft on the ramp.

The Lee family has always lived in Tung Chung, near the new airport, and Leo used to pass by Hactl when travelling on the bus. “I didn't have any idea about what a cargo terminal was, and just regarded it as a warehouse. And although I felt that air freight was a professional business, when I was looking for a job, I definitely wouldn’t have taken Hactl into account if my father had not been working here, and I certainly wouldn’t have joined it after graduation.”

Leo followed in his father’s footsteps, joining Hactl as a part-time employee in 2013 while studying engineering in college. After graduation, he became a full time staff member in the Service Delivery department, where he was subsequently promoted to his current position of Supervisor.

Does the father enjoy working with his son in the same company? “It's fine. At least we can have lunch together,” says Lee dismissively. But there is a smile on his face as he says this.

Since I joined Hactl, I really appreciate the hard work he does.

A year-round tan

Before working at Hactl, Leo admits he didn't know much about his father's work. Only after joining did he begin to understand the environment his father was working in every day. “When I was a kid, I always thought my father's skin was so dark that he looked like a construction worker. I was curious: wasn’t he working at the airport? So why was his skin so tanned? What was he really doing at the airport?”

Although Leo is close to his father, they don’t talk to each other a great deal. “Men don’t chatter the way mothers and daughters do. In fact, I didn’t really know my dad before,” he admits. However, after joining the company, Leo saw his dad driving tractors on the ramp every day, come rain or shine — and eventually realised his father's dark skin was the visible evidence of his work. “Since I joined Hactl, I really appreciate the hard work he does,” continues Leo.

This growing understanding of his father has made him more considerate and caring.
“Sometimes when there's a strong wind or heavy rain, I am very concerned about his safety, and call to tell him to take extra care,” Leo says. But “There's nothing to worry about; I know what I'm doing!” says Lee, with a faint smile.

Chan Sui Yin
Chan Chi Ho enzo

The Father’s worry

Chan Sui Yin (Chan) and Chan Chi Ho Enzo (Enzo) have always enjoyed a very close relationship. Chan used to spend a lot of time with Enzo when he was small. They talk about everything: Chan likes planes, and thinks it’s amazing to see these “big birds” in the sky. Since joining Hactl in 2002, Chan has worked as a part-time cargo handler, mainly responsible for building up and breaking down cargo in the warehouse.

“When I first entered Hactl, I was thrilled to have a close-up view of the runways, and see the planes taking off and landing. I was walking on air!” he enthuses. He would share his experiences at the airport with Enzo: “For instance, I find loading and unloading containers very absorbing — like doing a puzzle. Handling dangerous goods involves detailed knowledge, too.”

Enzo became an athlete, and is a former member of the Hong Kong Rope Skipping Delegation. “This child was a real expert in rope skipping; I have seen his fascinating performances. When he was a kid, he was so into jumping rope that he practiced all the time at home and on the street.” Enzo interrupts: “My parents got bent out of shape as I was practising day and night.” He points jokingly at his dad.

After graduating from college, Enzo did administrative work in a sports company, and served as a fitness coach. But Chan did not feel comfortable about that: “Generally, athletes’ incomes aren’t steady in Hong Kong; I was worried he would make sports a lifelong career — not an easy way to make a living.” So, when Enzo thought about a change of job after completing the contract with the sports company in 2012, Chan suggested he look for a job at Hactl. “I had worked here for a long time, and understood the significance of the air freight industry. From my perspective, Hactl was in a great position for the future, which would provide a stable job for him.”

The most important thing is taking good care of colleagues, and developing a close rapport with each other.

The child grows up

Enzo eventually agreed to give Hactl a try. Since joining, he’s been mainly responsible for clerical work; and the 8 years have meanwhile passed by quickly, and he’s recently been promoted to Assistant Supervisor. “I didn’t struggle with the decision to leave the sports sector; as I grew older, I realised I couldn’t stay in that circle forever. When I first joined Hactl, it was a whole new world for me. But, with my dad’s encouragement, I just rolled the dice and gave it a shot.” He has now left rope skipping behind, but often shares his experience with youngsters and gives them advice. “Really, I don't think I have ever given up rope skipping; I just do it a different way now.”

Although the Chans work in different teams, their work is closely related. And, since Enzo joined Hactl, he and his father now find they have more in common. Enzo has also become more mature in performing his duties, earning praise from many of his co-workers. It’s a relief to his Dad: “Sometimes I hear about the emergencies he has had to deal with. Because I’ve worked at the terminal for so long, I understand what it’s like, and I think he’s done a great job handling these situations. He is no longer the kid he once was!” To Chan, the best news was Enzo becoming a supervisor, loved by his team. “The most important thing is taking good care of colleagues, and developing a close rapport with each other,” Chan finishes.

Chan used to believe that — no matter how old Enzo was — he would always be a child in his head. But when he sees for himself how well Enzo gets along with the others, he is relieved: the child is finally a man!