- Studied: Bachelor of Science (Honours) in computing science
- Now works as: CEO and Founder, AsiaRay
When he started his company 18 years ago, Vincent Lam had no idea he was doing it in the right place at the right time. As CEO and founder of one of the largest outdoor advertising agencies in the Greater China region, AsiaRay, Vincent has grown the company from its birth in 1993 to the behemoth it is today. With over 500 employees in 31 offices, AsiaRay’s growth will only continue as it is perfectly poised to ride the wave of China’s flourishing economy.
Vincent’s entrepreneurial journey started at the University of Sydney, not in business, but with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in computer science, which he later followed with a Master of Commerce at UNSW.
A few years after university, he took the fortuitous opportunity to work in China at the invitation of a friend. "At the time, I thought it was interesting and exciting to be working in China," says Vincent, who hadn’t yet realised that this experience would soon change the course of his career.
The turning point occurred in 1993, when Vincent returned to Hong Kong and decided that he should start a business. Using contacts made in China and Sydney, he tried many ventures - including importing an organic fertiliser from Australia – but it wasn’t until he rekindled ties with a friend’s parent that things really took off.
"When I was in China, I was introduced to my friend’s father who was a senior official from the Ministry of Railways," he remembers. "He offered to help me start my business and gave me three choices: transport, advertising and tourism."
Vincent’s instinct helped him realise that the transport industry would be an expensive learning curve, so he chose the cheaper option of advertising, and today, Vincent’s business is responsible for the advertising billboards and light boxes in 30 airports (23 of them are exclusive), 6 metro lines and hundreds of highways and downtown streets in China and Hong Kong.
Although Vincent’s undergraduate training was in science, he says that analytical skills learnt during his degree, particularly in Honours, were indispensible to helping him navigate the mechanics of running a business. "I learnt how to work independently and how to solve problems, which has come in use every day of my working life."
Another secret to his success is the contacts he made during his fortuitous trip to China over 20 years ago. "It’s rare in a person’s life that you can hope to build something on a world scale," he says. "But with China in an era of immense growth, and with the good networks AsiaRay has built there, I can’t help thinking that we are in a special time."