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David Kwok, Owner and Chief Executive Officer

As a child, David loved to take everyday items apart to better understand how they worked. At school, David's favourite subjects included material science and technical drawing, and with such a practical and curious mindset it was no wonder that he found an engineering career as the perfect way to share his talents.

Age: 55

Job title: Owner and Chief Executive Officer

Company employed by: Technical Industrial Limited, Asian Techmart Limited.

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
An engineer with curiosity and a problem-solving mindset.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
My company (founded in 2001) delivers Swiss quality functional coating (by PVD, PACVD, HFCVD technology) on cutting tools and mold and die and components, to enhance their surface properties and performance. My dream is to help customers’ product quality increase on an international level so that they can compete globally.

What excites you most about STEM?
STEM trains me how to think scientifically and objectively, solving problems in a systematical and logical way. As the customers we encounter are mostly from the industries relating to machining and production, I need to combine various areas of STEM to identify the problems they are facing and then find the most suitable and optimal solutions for them. Therefore, I have established a technical team of engineers from different backgrounds and knowledge bases in order to analyse the customers’ needs at different angles, giving a holistic perspective.

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
My job is a major part of my life and I thoroughly enjoy it. My wife often complains that I wake up very early in the morning to check the messages on my work phone, but I love to see the new ideas coming in and send any tasks onto the team to get started on and improve my business.

I am planning to retire in 10 years when I will pass my duties to my son and daughter. They have grown up in the company and have worked in the company during the holidays.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
I can adapt my knowledge of STEM to help solve the problems that my colleagues and customers encounter on a daily basis. I am not afraid of handling challenges and problems as it forces me to think of a solution using different STEM skills. This makes my customers happy and improves the knowledge of my colleagues.

What does a typical day at work involve?
As I am the owner and CEO of the company, I have numerous tasks to do on a daily basis including:

  • Resource planning and allocation
  • Risk management
  • Research and Development
  • New technology exploration
  • Customer visits and discussion
  • Finding talents

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
The abrupt drop in economic development and market sales caused by the US-China Trade War and COVID-19. But I have been using this time to re-think how my company could survive and compete by re-structuring and resource management.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
The Founder of Chen Hsong Holdings Limited. Dr. Chiang Chen. Dr. Chen is one of the most influential industrialists in Hong Kong. He is a very stringent but kind person. I once worked at his Company in the summer. He always pushed me to the limit. He showed me how to achieve a goal with full use of the resources he had on hand. This inspired me not to give up once I had set a goal but to try every possible way in order to find the best solution.

Any influential toys during childhood?
During my childhood, I liked to disassemble and reassemble all different kinds of appliances like radios and clocks to understand how they worked. This was the starting point of my interest in STEM.

Your favourite subjects at school?
Technical drawing, strength of material, material science and production technology.

Qualifications (school/college/university):

  • Executive Master of Business Admission 
  • BEng. (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering 
  • Higher Diploma, in Mechanical Engineering
  • Diploma in Mechanical Engineering

Your reason for choosing this career?
Engineering is the most favourable subject I have learnt in my life. It is not only a theoretical concept, but also it practically applies to what I am doing. Engineering is the art of science.

Tell me about your career path to date?
I graduated from Mechanical Engineering in 1990 and then worked in an SME company and assisted the owner to manage the mould shop, assemble line and support the sales department. After 3 years working, the company was closed and I thought Hong Kong was not the right place for production so I looked to the EDM market in the South China area as my final year project at the Hong Kong Polytechnic was to “investigate the factors influence of cost of EDM”.
In 1996 the Swiss company AGIE was merged with the Swiss Charmilles company. I was invited by my Swiss Mikron company regional sales manager to be the shareholder and the general manager of Mikron Hong Kong Limited and was responsible for the South China area.

Due to my strong knowledge in mechanical engineering I could learn quickly and write many monthly articles in the local industries magazine about the applications and advantages of the Mikron High Speed Milling Technology. The sales were very successful and the company grew from 4 people to 15 people in 4 years.

In 2001 the Mikron was acquired by the Agie Charmilles group and I started my own business with Swiss PVD technology. I was very lucky that my career established from an SME factory that involved many technical things. Following this I went into the Swiss precision machine tools industries and found out the keys of their success and the know-how to build precision machine tools. From 2001 I started to build a technical company from 4 people. Today we have more than 200 colleagues, cooperating with local universities and hiring STEM graduates to sustain our development.

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
I am fully satisfied with what I am doing now. Even when I retire I will still assist my son and daughter as a consultant to help the company remain sustainable and to develop it further.

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?

  • Don’t restrict yourself on certain areas. Try to be hungry for learning different things in STEM which you could ultimately use when you grow up.
  • Don’t worry about taking on extra work in the early days as you can learn from it.
  • Don't panic about facing problems. Try to identify the root cause step-by-step logically and you will figure out the way to solve it.
  • Competition is getting higher so you could try to get a double degree in 2 disciplines. I believe the best is STEM and MBA.