We recently spoke with Engineering Director in Hong Kong, Esmond Cheung.
Esmond was the first employee of BAI in Hong Kong and has been with us for over 24 years. Before Esmond joined BAI, he actively participated in the pioneering project of providing the USDC 800 / GSM 900 cellular coverage in Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). After joining BAI, he lead another pioneering project in Hong Kong to provide the DCS 1800 cellular coverage in Hong Kong MTR within two years, which finished ahead of schedule. Currently, Esmond leads his engineering team of 40+ members to deliver multiple projects in diverse spectrum from AM, FM, VHF, UHF and all the way to up to the Sub-6 WiFi. Apart from radio projects, elements like optical fibre, IP network, network security, SCADA, CCTV, IoT, etc, are also the appetite of the end customer.
What’s the most important development happening in our industry in Hong Kong and what does that mean for BAI?
The most important development in the industry is 5G. Since the auction of new 5G spectrum in Hong Kong in end 2019 / early 2020, the MNOs are progressively launching 5G services. Though the most time-efficient way is to re-farm existing licensed spectrum, utilisation of the new 5G spectrum is catching up. With the emerging network topology and new 5G spectrum of higher carrier frequency, new design rules and optimisation rules are needed to devise.
Sometimes I feel that we are reaching the limit, like the quantum limit of Moore’s Law in the semiconductor field. We could no longer simply increase the size of the RF feeder cable as it doesn’t work anymore for higher carrier frequency. Existing closed mindset could jeopardise possible solutions. To BAI, this means new opportunities, not only for those new areas where there is no infrastructure, but also for those areas where there is existing infrastructure that is not 5G ready, and we could suggest ways to upgrade to meet the MNO’s and landlord’s appetite.
What inspires you most in the work that you do?
Inspiration comes from communications. Talking to clients and colleagues and understanding their problems and needs. Chatting with young engineers sometimes reminds you of things that you may have forgotten in a fresh way.
What is a technique you use to be more effective in your work?
Prioritise the work, break it down into small tasks, and avoid multi-tasking within the small tasks. And nowadays, the most important is to put your phone away.
What’s one of the ongoing challenges you face at work and how do you manage it?
The ongoing challenge is the keep up with the fast changing industry, like new spectrum, new communication standards, new network topologies, etc. We have to keep ourselves updated, like keeping up with posts from leading industrial forums and obtaining more up-to-date information from equipment vendors and instrumentation suppliers. Attending presentations, workshops, and training is essential to enable our team to be technically ready for the next step.
What is your advice for proactively managing your career?
I would say you have to have your own vision, set and prioritise the goals with a detailed timeline, and equip yourself with proper training, exposure, and experiences. Also, find an experienced mentor in your field, and finally, periodically review and adjust the plan to meet the actual environment. Note “Opportunity wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”
Who has been the greatest influence on your career and why?
I would guess that person is myself. Having studied electronic engineering for several years, and during my first job, I understood that I was lacking something in order to get myself into the wireless communication engineering field in Hong Kong at that time, in which radio paging and analogue mobile business was blooming. Then I went back to study communication engineering and got my second job, as a radio engineer in the next year. Though ‘life is like a box of chocolates’, I try to pick the one I prefer.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Though Hong Kong is surrounded by sea and has so many small islands, frankly, I do not know how to swim at all. But I do like snorkelling, of course with floating aids.