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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Scientific Leadership

At 11:45 on Sunday, September 23, 2018, (Hong Kong time), I was at Gold Coast's Surfers Paradise when the time for Professor Charles Kao came. I began to know him as a person when he was no longer the Vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He would take part in intellectual property-related activities from 1999 - 2002, and I would not miss my learning opportunities.

During the 2002 World Intellectual Property Day reception, I posed to Professor Kao brave questions- Q1:"As Father of Fiber Optics, what was your direct gain?"A1: "I became the Vice-chancellor of CUHK!" Q2: "Did you file any patents?" A2: "Yes, I filed many, but assigned them all to my employer!" Q3: "Why are you content to educate primary students?" A3:"Only the best should teach the young!"

The last message particularly resonated in me and I began to practise it in house. As the legal head of the Intellectual Property Department, I did the knowledge transfer to the interns myself. Later, having learned more about the concept of "learning on learning" at Harvard Kennedy School, I initiated my monthly "ILA" (Inspire, Liberate & Achieve) sessions with all my legal colleagues.

The late Professor Charles Kao was a visionary and disruptive innovator who exercised scientific leadership on modern communications technology for the world to follow. As 20 years his junior, I can remember the long sequence of events associated with him in a continuous stream of consciousness. As all life must end and adding years to life is uncertain, I would add life to years eg by watching whales in paradise!

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