In Focus    |    04.2021

Energised education at HK Electric Institute

HK Electric is the sole provider of electricity to more than 580,000 customers on Hong Kong and Lamma Islands. If the power went out, then Hong Kong Island would grind to a halt, causing huge economic damage affecting the livelihoods of everyone, from humble fishmongers to the heights of Asian finance and banking. Constant improvement through learning and training – through its own custom-designed programmes – is how HK Electric ensures that Hong Kong’s energy keeps buzzing.

Electricity provision must be ultra-reliable – and HK Electric delivers. Since 1997, it has consistently achieved 99.999% reliability. In 2020, it transcended Six Sigma levels of reliability to achieve over 99.9999% (count the nines!) reliability – less than 0.5 minutes of outage exposure per year per customer. A challenging socioeconomic environment notwithstanding, HK Electric’s performance saw them join an elite global group of electricity providers which have mastered this level of reliability. That consistency doesn’t happen by accident – top-notch engineers, managers and executives must be at their very best in the service of customers. A key component of that extraordinary performance is the HK Electric Institute (the ‘Institute’).

In 2014, a strategic review determined the critical success factors for HK Electric in the 21st century, including the creation of the Institute. A Steering Committee of engineering general managers convened to create a new type of educational experience suited to the needs of the enterprise. Moving at lightning speed, they ensured that the Institute opened its doors in October that year.

Experts in the classroom

The Institute draws on a range of academic and business leaders from inside and outside HK Electric. The structure mirrors that of a university, with the Managing Director of HK Electric, Wan Chi Tin, serving as the Chancellor of the Institute. The incumbent Dean of the Institute is Wilson Kwok (HK Electric’s Head of Technical Services), who presides over three faculties: Transmission & Distribution, Generation, and Information Technology, all under the management of the Operations Director, Francis Cheng.

The Institute works with professors from local universities, where engineering classes are held. Professors and HK Electric leaders co-teach undergraduate and Master-level courses in areas like High Voltage Equipment for Power Systems Networks, Transmission Gas Insulated Switchgears and more at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

Top-notch engineers, managers and executives must be at their very best in the service of customers.
The programme nurtures future industry leaders who are crucial to advancing the urban development of the Belt and Road regions.

Belt and Road initiative

Beyond Hong Kong, HK Electric shares its expertise with partners in the ‘Belt and Road’ countries across Asia, Europe and Africa. Since 2018, the Silk Road International School of Engineering, jointly set up by PolyU and Xi’an Jiaotong University in Mainland China, has partnered with the State Grid Corporation of China and HK Electric to organise an annual programme: ‘The Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme’. This public and private sector collaboration has a mission to support the Belt and Road initiative by strengthening relations, knowledge exchange and collaboration among the Belt and Road countries and regions. It is also a platform for technology exchange between industry professionals and academics, aiming to enhance the electricity infrastructure of the Belt and Road participating countries and regions.

This cross-regional and multicultural university–industry collaboration is the first of its kind in the Mainland and Hong Kong. It has attracted more than 200 industry leaders and professionals in its three years of operation. Power and energy managers have established a strong communication platform through over 5,300 hours of intense interaction.

Additionally, the programme nurtures future industry leaders who are crucial to advancing the urban development of the Belt and Road regions involved. HK Electric’s own engineers have shared their operational experience and insights with other participants.

Learn and grow

Participating in Institute classes and the Belt and Road programmes is a proven path to growth for HK Electric professionals – 43% of Directors and General Managers and 57% of Department and Section Heads are graduates of in-house trainee programmes. Take, for example, Messrs Chiu, Chow, Mak and Pau.

Chiu Ho Fai and Chow Wing Chuen are talented professionals in distribution equipment but lacked experience with transmission equipment. After graduating from the Institute programmes, they were able to gain experience in transmission leading to promotion and qualification as 275kV Authorised Persons (a qualification in HK Electric that allows the practitioner to carry out work on transmission systems). Mr Chiu has also represented HK Electric, participating in the Belt and Road programme in 2019.

Messrs Mak Fong Chuen and Pau Yik Pan saw their Institute studies accelerate their rise from new graduates to Senior Authorised Persons (for 22kV and 11kV systems) and then to masters in the handling and operation of distribution systems and equipment.

These are just four of hundreds of the Institute graduates that have seen their career growth advanced through skill development under the instruction of HK Electric and academic power professors. The Institute demands a large commitment of executive and professional time and resources, but that commitment is amply rewarded through HK Electric’s delivery of a world-class power supply to the people of Hong Kong.

Participating in the Institute classes and the Belt and Road programmes is a proven path to growth for HK Electric professionals.
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