Earlier this year, I met Tom at his current workplace, Edwards Lifesciences, in Shanghai, China, where he is General Counsel and Director APAC and Japan. During his in-house legal career he has worked in the US, UK, and Hong Kong with Colgate-Palmolive for eleven years, GE for three years and Kingfisher/B&Q for six years.
US-based corporation Edwards Lifesciences is a global leader in heart valve and hemodynamic monitoring. The corporation partners with physicians to innovate products designed to improve quality of life by helping patients live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
Describe your early days at Trinity.
My brother William and I came to Trinity from Hong Kong through the introduction of a family friend. I remember being interviewed with my parents by the Headmaster. I also remember living in the Boarding House, the wonderful playing fields, playing hockey, cricket and soccer but also doing serious study as well. There are so many fond and fun memories. My great friend, the only other Asian student from Hong Kong in the final year, was Benedict Wong, who is now a successful medical practitioner living in Sydney.
Who had the greatest influence on you at Trinity?
I particularly recall May Hocking who was very helpful to me with my English, which was very poor when I arrived at Trinity, and Chris Howell. I will always remember being exposed to the Australian bush for the first time, the nature, kangaroos, and wild animals.
After school I went to Sydney to study Commerce at UNSW and qualified as a CPA. From there I went to the UK where I did my Bachelor of Law at the University of Buckingham, then I moved to the University of Hong Kong for a postgraduate degree in Law, Macau University for Chinese Law, then finally an EMBA with Stanford/National University of Singapore.
What have you taken away from your days at the School?
The well-balanced approach towards study, sport and other extra-curricular activities helped me to develop a ‘build’ philosophy in everything that I do and I have been finding great satisfaction ever since. In addition, being a devoted Christian, the continued spiritual guidance from the School, while I lived away from family, and the wonderful experience in visiting and doing voluntary work for disabled children during my first year boarding break, further strengthened my belief in God by encouraging me to take a positive attitude whenever I face setbacks or tough challenges.
What advice would you give to young men leaving Trinity?
‘Team Work, Respect Each Other and Continuous Improvement’ are the three values that I would like to share with young men from Trinity.
Team Work – to me, this means sacrifice, for instance, even though you may have contributed the most in the team, the important thing is having the team win. Please rest assured that your efforts will not go unnoticed and, in fact, could be rewarded multiple times in the long run.
Respect Each Other – there could be differences of opinion resulting in heated and/or creative debate. When facing such situations, I recommend that you should always respect the other person’s opinion and listen carefully even though you may still end up disagreeing with his or her view. This attitude should apply equally to your boss, your peers and also subordinates.
Continuous Improvement – there is so much to explore in this wonderful world and no matter what our age or stage in life, we should all keep continuously learning and growing together.