"Endurance is the key to success, especially during downturns!"
Indeed. With only $50 in his pocket when he first arrived in Hong Kong in 1976, life has not always been a smooth ride. But Prof. C.C. Chan was not disheartened. He stayed positive and believed in maximizing one’s own strength.
"Some overseas Chinese who came here with me found easy jobs at the pier as labourers to earn their living. If I had worked as a pier labourer, I wouldn’t have earned my own living because I am not physically strong enough. How many loads of stuff could I possibly carry? I decided that I had to take a path where I can apply my skills."
He eventually landed a position in a Hongkong Electric Co Ltd in 1976 as a Research Engineer, and then he joined the Hong Kong Polytechnic and the University of Hong Kong in 1977 and 1981 respectively.
With his intelligence, hard work and determination, he accumulated extensive experience in electrical engineering and paved the way for his success as one of the world’s foremost authorities on electric vehicles.
Prof. C.C. Chan is currently Honorary Professor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong. Born in a Chinese entrepreneur family of Indonesia in 1937, he was happy to witness the birth of a new China and went to Beijing to study Electrical Engineering in 1953. In the 1960s, he began researching electric traction in coal mines. After moving to Hong Kong in 1976, he obtained his PhD at the University of Hong Kong and stayed on to engage in teaching and research on electric vehicles. He has been actively involved in electric vehicle projects around the world and was former Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at HKU.
Prof. C.C. Chan has witnessed major historical events throughout his life - the World War II, the Dutch colonization, the Japanese invasion of Indonesia, the Indonesian independence and the birth of a new China. He has also personally experienced crucial political and economic movements, including the cultural revolution in the 60s, the booming industrial growth in Hong Kong in the 70s, the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the Asian economic crisis in 1998, and so on.
"Life has to end at one point, but our spirits last forever."
He feels that he is lucky to be healthy so that he can continue working. Even after his retirement, he is still dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation. He currently has postgraduate students in Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas.
He serves as Visiting Professor of a number of well-known universities around the world, including MIT, University of California Berkeley, University of Cambridge, etc. He is Co-founder and the President of the World Electric Vehicle Association, the President of the Electric Vehicles Association of Asia Pacific, President of the Asian Electric Vehicle Society, and Past President of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. He serves as Senior Consultant to governments, Advisor or Independent Director of international leading companies. In 2007, he served as Advisor to Oakland Independent to Oil Task Force. Prof. Chan is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K., the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Ukraine Academy of Engineering Sciences, and the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences. He was awarded the Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Sciences and Doctor of Technology. He is also a Fellow of IEEE, IET and HKIE. He was awarded the IEE International Lecture Medal in 2000 and delivered lectures on electric vehicles worldwide. He received the “Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award” from the Society of Automotive Engineers U.S.A. in 2007, the Honour of “China Automobile Industry Character” in 2008, and the Gold Medal of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers in 2010. Outstanding Third Age Citizens Award by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in 2011; World Federation of Engineering (WFEO) Medal of Engineering Excellence in 2013; Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal in 2014.
With his multi-cultural background and international exposure, Prof. C.C. Chan has a mission to integrate the strengths of East and West for the advancement of science and technology to improve human welfare.
To summarize, Prof. Chan regards the following as the main factors of his success:
- High aspiration, ideal and goals
- Good teacher for direction; Good schoolmate and colleagues for discussion; Good environment with academic freedom
- Intellectual courage and confidence
- Analytical mind and critical thinking
- Get the right tools
- Optimistic and forward looking
- Team spirit
Last but not least, he emphasized on the 6 "I"s of success in his teaching and carrier: