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Love of archery, love of life

Every arrow marks a new beginning

Lee Wan-yi
Bachelor of English Language Studies with Honours

OUHK alumna Lee Wan-yi excels in two quite distinct worlds. Academically, she holds a master’s degree in language teaching after earlier having completed an undergraduate degree in English Language Studies at the OUHK. Meanwhile, in the sport of archery, she has broken more than 20 local records, several of which she still holds.

A talented latecomer

As a child Wan-yi was fond of shooting of all sorts, whether rubber bands or darts, although she only took up archery at the age of 19. She was obviously a quick learner, as she broke Hong Kong’s junior women’s individual (age 19-20) record for the 18-metre outdoor recurve only four months after first picking up a bow. A year later, she went on to break the 40-metre record in the same division several times. In 2015, she was crowned champion in the women’s compound bow category at the Hong Kong Target Archery Championship (Star Shoot), during which she broke another Hong Kong record in the FITA round.

To qualify for the Universiade (World University Games), a ‘mini Olympics’ as she describes it, Wan-yi had to race against time. Achieving the minimum score for qualification would take her some time with the recurve bow that she had learnt to shoot with, but if she made a switch to the relatively less demanding compound bow, which was completely new to her, it was certainly possible. It was a dream come true when Wan-yi made it through after ten months of intensive training. She recalls, ‘More than half of the participants at the Universiade will eventually take part in the Olympic Games. I was thrilled to be able to get close and watch some world-class archers competing against one another, including Korea’s Ku Bon-chan, Ki Bo-bae and Kim Woo-jin, and Slovenia’s Toja Ellison.’

Wan-yi’s only regret in that first attempt in 2015 was that she was unable to represent the OUHK, which had yet to be admitted to the University Sports Federation of Hong Kong (USFHK). Looking to address this, she wrote an email to President Prof. Yuk-Shan Wong, and was rewarded with a pleasant surprise: ‘Prof. Wong replied in person, asking me to come along to his office and share my archery experiences with him!’ Not long after, the Student Affairs Office hired a number of dedicated sports staff, and when Wan-yi returned to the Universiade in 2017, the University had already become an associate member of the USFHK.

Hitting the target

Archery has shaped Wan-yi’s outlook on life: ‘Every arrow is a new beginning. If you miss, try again; don’t dwell on your failure.’Archery has also taught her about patience. She adds, ‘One temptation in shooting with a compound bow is to “punch” the trigger to force the shot instead of waiting for all the muscles to work together. Punching the trigger can make it easier to get started, but eventually you fall prey to a condition known as “target panic” which affects your ability to shoot well. Short-term success may lead to failure in the long run.’

Under a newly established sports scholarship scheme, Wan-yi was honoured as the first OUHK ‘Best Athlete of the Year’. She also did well in her studies, making it onto the Dean’s list in her third year, and then going on to pursue a Master of Arts in International Language Teaching at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The archer knows how important it is to aim, but locating the target is itself a process of trial and error. Comparing archery to life, she comments, ‘Life is more like those archery practice sessions where we experiment with different postures to see which one works best. There are so many possibilities in life and if you don’t try, you’ll miss out.’ Before entering the OUHK, Wan-yi had studied for a Higher Diploma in Biomedical Science. When she realized she would prefer a career involving more human interaction, she decided to move into language studies instead, and eventually landed a teaching and programme coordination job in a tertiary institution. Looking back on these experiences, she says, ‘I believe my diverse training has helped me to think from multiple perspectives.’ Right now, she is contemplating whether to move ahead in the teaching profession or work towards a speech therapy qualification.

Wan-yi and Brady Ellison, Olympic silver medallist in archery

Sit back and analyse the situation

Saloni Jayendra Anandpara
Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Business Intelligence and Analytics

Saloni Jayendra Anandpara radiates a sense of positive energy and warmth to those around her. A top student in Business Intelligence and Analytics and a highly promising chess player, she has achieved her various successes through enthusiasm, determination and a set of clear goals.

Juggling work and play

Saloni’s interest in chess was first sparked in India, when at the age of ten she watched her sister play with a friend. ‘Mum thought I was too young for it, but I learnt by watching.’ In just a month she was beating her older peers, which convinced her mother to enrol her in chess classes. By the time she moved to Hong Kong for Secondary 1 in 2011, Saloni had twice won district tournaments, and had advanced to the national level.

Much of the next few years was taken up by schoolwork and learning Chinese, so Saloni mainly kept her hand in by playing chess online. On entering university, she worked out an arduous but manageable routine: ‘In the morning, I go to classes and study. I try to pay close attention in class so that I don’t have to revisit the lesson materials that much. Then, from two to four in the afternoon, I teach chess at various schools. In the evening, I play chess online and read chess skills books for a couple of hours — and for up to five hours if there’s a tournament coming up.’

Happiness the key to success

It is not hard to see why a chess player might be drawn towards Business Intelligence and Analytics: dealing with big data, the specialism calls for the same detailed analysis required when playing chess. According to Saloni, ‘in chess, you have to consider all the possible options and the related drawbacks before making a move. Likewise, business analytics requires you to think about every possible situation and work out how to minimize any negative impacts.’

Saloni’s professors have been very supportive in her efforts to strike a balance between her studies and her chess. ‘When I had to miss classes because of tournaments abroad, my programming professor contacted me immediately after I had arrived back in Hong Kong to advise me on how I could catch up!’ Saloni is impressed by the close relationships between faculty and students at the OUHK. ‘They are always there to help after classes. And it’s not just about education; they talk to us about everything under the sun,’ says she.

With the University’s support, in 2018 Saloni was awarded the Winnie Ko Student Exchange Fund by the Chiu Chow Chamber of Commerce and the Talent Development Scholarship by the Government, allowing her to participate in three chess games in a period of less than 50 days. She was Hong Kong’s only representative at both the Asian Junior & Girls Chess Championship in Mongolia and the FIDE World Junior Chess Championship 2018 (Girls U20) in Turkey. But the acid test came at the 43rd FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Georgia, where Saloni beat seven of nine titled players (Candidate Master, International Chess Master or Grand Master) and came away with the‘Woman Candidate Master’ title. ‘I was so excited to meet the former world champion Viswanathan Anand and the World Chess Championship finalist Fabiano Caruana!’ she says. Saloni especially cherishes the special bonds formed during the tournaments. ‘I still keep in touch with the players I met and discuss things like tactics, but there’s more than that — my roommate in Mongolia even invited me to her wedding in Kyrgyzstan.’ She also recalls fondly the evenings of singing, dancing and having fun with a group she befriended in Turkey : ‘One day all of us lost our matches, and we went shopping together; the next day we won again. You have to keep your mind happy in order to win.’

Looking to the future

In life as in chess, Saloni is always planning a few steps ahead. ‘I will never leave chess; eventually I want to achieve the Grand Master title. At the same time, I’m looking at doing graduate studies in analytics or technology and then working as a business or data analyst to see how I like it. I may also set up my own chess school.’

Having fought and overcome in chess battles that she was initially losing, Saloni lives by the motto of ‘Never give up; always fight to the end. Enjoy the moment and don’t be discouraged. And learn the lessons when you fail, as failures can make you stronger and better.’

International manager-to-be explores the worlds of business and culture

Simran Sanjaybhai Kalathiya
Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business

At the 2018 inauguration of the A-Team Student Development Programme, a training programme for elite Business students, Simran Sanjaybhai Kalathiya grabbed everyone’s attention with her dextrous and confident drumming on a pair of Indian tabla drums. Although still a fresher at the OUHK, Simran’s confidence and her outgoing personality had convinced faculty to admit her exceptionally to the elite programme, which normally recruits from students from Year 2 and above.

The real business world from scratch

Simran moved to Hong Kong at the age of two along with her father’s export business. But while she has been exposed to the idea of international business from a young age, she admits to having limited understanding of the corporate world before entering university, and has found the OUHK programme helpful in giving her ‘an insider’s perspective of what business is, from scratch’. Her ambition goes beyond continuing the family business: ‘I’m still exploring, but I’m hoping to work as a management trainee for a few years, get an MBA at some point, and in an ideal scenario, climb the ladder to become a CEO.’

By the end of Year 1, the aspiring future manager had shared the stage with senior-year students at a number of inter-collegiate contests. Last March, Simran and her teammates presented their solution for a merger and acquisition case concerning luxury brand Michael Kors in the final round of the Canadian National Investment Banking Competition and Conference (NIBC) in Vancouver. That was the first time she had been involved in the finals of a global competition, and her team placed among the top 35 of more than 500 undergraduate entries presented in the first round. ‘My teammates in Finance did the numbers for our solution, while I spent most of the time studying the material for the presentation.’ But Simran has learnt more from her seniors than just business knowledge. ‘I’ve been most inspired by the way they interact so comfortably with other people in the business world. Seeing how much they have achieved has strengthened my faith in the University.’ To put her own knowledge to the test, she has challenged herself to take part in a Corporate Governance paper competition as she steps into her second year of university. *

Building intercultural competence

Educated in an international school, Simran did consider going overseas for university but eventually decided to remain in Hong Kong. ‘Hong Kong is international enough as a financial centre’, she explains. ‘I like how it is an Asian economy where Eastern and Western cultures interact. Also, I don’t want to forget the Mandarin I learnt at school.’ Simran is keenly aware of the close relationship between language, culture and business, and has made it a major goal to learn Cantonese in the coming years. She is gladly embracing the opportunities being opened up by the Cantonese-based Youth Ambassadors Programme under the Youth Development Commission. ‘I have to rely on the other participants to translate for me; with their help I’m gradually figuring out the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese.’

Later in the year, Simran will go on an overseas exchange as a Youth Ambassador. Here on the OUHK campus, she has been working with friends to set up a student society to facilitate cultural exchange: ‘I was frustrated by how hard it can be for non-Cantonese speakers to join a student society. After talking with some friends, we thought, why not set up one of our own?’ The new society will host cultural festivals for all students, regardless of their language background, and will hopefully be up and running by January 2020.

* In September 2019, Simran bagged the championship of the Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries Corporate Governance Paper Presentation Awards.