A very short biography of Daniel Lai would tell us that he is a veteran ICT professional who worked in the utilities, gaming and transport industries and the number of years he spent in each, before taking on the job of the CIO of the Government of Hong Kong in 2012. That would not do justice to the man's body of work throughout his career. For starters, it leaves out the sheer volume and quality of initiatives he has seen through completion in Hong Kong and across borders for 45 years now, and his role in changing the landscape of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, in the construction of essential ICT infrastructures and in the development of ICT talent in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).
By the time Lai entered his office-located on the 20th floor of Central Government Offices in Tamar, Hong Kong-he had racked up a decade at the Hong Kong Electric Company Ltd, two decades at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and 13 years at MTR Corporation Ltd. These are timeframes within which he had accomplished more than a few massive projects, including but not restricted to: setting up a complete operations infrastructure for the HKJC in Australia in the 1990s; spearheading a slew of initiatives at MTR, which all produced award-winning (for e.g. multiple CIO Awards by CIO Asia, IT Excellence Awards by MIS Asia) and more importantly business-generating solutions in deployment to this day; and leading the complex and difficult ICT integration and consolidation works behind the MTR and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) merger.
In that time, through his active involvement in the Hong Kong Computer Society he had also played key leading roles in the development of ICT talent, the promotion of enterprise and personal ICT deployment and use, and the growth of the ICT industry in Hong Kong. Indeed, given his standing and contribution to Hong Kong all these years, it always seemed inevitable that he would be called for the SAR's top ICT job. Given his noble aspirations and desire to contribute to Hong Kong, it was only natural that he would accept that call. And so he did, finally, almost two years ago.
We had the honour of an interview with him a few months back, wherein he told us about the state of ICT in Hong Kong, challenges in his new role, his plans moving forward, some key lessons he's learnt in his professional career to date, and why he accepted the role of the Hong Kong Government CIO (HKGCIO). Below is the first part of the expurgated transcript of that interview.
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