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23 March 2016
How far can you stretch yourself to make your dream come true? Gary Leung (B.Sc. in Quantitative Finance 2008) decided to give up high-salaried jobs and opted to pursue a long yearned-for childhood dream ― to become a bus driver ― and subsequently a bus route planner. Looking back, he has no regrets about the decision he made. The joy that came from making a dream come true, along with job satisfaction, made him realise that what he gained outweighs what he let go!
Upon completion of the Quantitative Finance Program, Gary (centre) relishes a joyous moment with his fellow classmates
We all have childhood dreams; the difference being most of our dreams gradually succumb to the pressures of reality as we grow. However, for Gary, his dream was irrepressible. “Although I am not one of those crazy fans who chase buses on the street to photograph them, nor someone who can tell a bus model by the roar of its engine, I developed a love for buses when I was a kid, a love that I can’t explain.” So it happened that he became a bus driver who operates a huge monster on the roadways to transport passengers, a dream with its roots deep in Gary’s heart.
Since becoming a bus driver, Gary (left) has encountered many bus lovers who share a common interest
Dreams need to be designed with daring and then knitted with care. Gary did not chase his dream with his eyes closed. He believed he should study hard and build a solid foundation as a prerequisite, which would also be a safety net if he needed one. So, harnessing his natural intelligence, he scored ‘9A’ in the HKCEE and was admitted the following year to the Business School’s Quantitative Finance Program through the Early Admission Scheme. Upon graduation, he was hired by one of the Big Four accounting firms as an analyst in corporate finance and was eventually promoted to manager four years later. Though his career was sailing smoothly, Gary somehow felt a distinct lack of job satisfaction.
Gary’s beloved mother suffered from a foot injury towards the end of 2012. Due to a very heavy workload, he arrived home late for many consecutive days. He even nearly missed participating in the family dinner on the night of the Winter Solstice. Other than being physically tired, he was feeling guilty. At that moment, he remembered his childhood dream. He recollected that he had often spoken to his parents and his friends about eventually becoming a bus driver. While acknowledging that he had been gainfully employed for several years and had saved up some money, he just could not resist such an idea. “Isn’t it about time I gave myself a working holiday and let my long-stashed-away dream become a reality?” he asked himself. Yet it was his mother who read his mind. “Son, why slave away? Go and drive a bus instead!” she urged. Parental support thus turned into a rejuvenating shot as Gary grew determined to pursue his dream.
Gary (front row, 2nd from right) works in the Planning and Development Department and takes pleasure in attending social gatherings with his co-workers after hours
Gary had not neglected developing his skills. In preparation, he had already acquired his driving licence to operate a bus and was constantly keeping an eye on the hiring ads for bus drivers. Finally, he passed an interview and became successfully engaged in what he wanted to do ― driving a bus. Meanwhile, Gary maintained a low profile as most of his colleagues did not realize they had a top scholar as a fellow co-worker. Incidentally, Gary outlined his own experience on Facebook, hoping he could inspire others to follow their dreams. Little did he know he would be sought after by the media as a target for write-ups! In due course, his story became headline news. He was the talk of the town.
Reports of a top university scholar-turned-bus-driver provoked a lot of comments from the community. Many praised Gary for his bravery in daring to pursue his dream. They made special trips to have their pictures taken with him, and they applauded him. There were others who criticized him for putting a good university transcript to waste. Gary accepted both groups with grace. “I am grateful for people’s kind concerns. I carefully considered the pros and cons prior to making my decision, so I am not offended by what others might think of me. A university education is not limited to passing on knowledge. What is most important? It is to help students develop independent thinking, interactive social skills and problem solving capabilities. All these can be usefully applied to any type of work,” he says.
It is Gary’s opinion that dreams are never too big or too small, while occupations cannot be classified as high or low. Society demands talents of all sorts, and all workers make a contribution to society.
Gary (left) cannot hide his excitement as he participates in the planning of the birth of KMB Route 290
Having operated as a full-time bus driver for six months, Gary was transferred to new duties in the Planning and Development Department to assist in regulating bus routes. As a young lad, he had familiarized himself with all the bus routes in Hong Kong so he was pleased to accept new challenges. Currently, he still drives a bus but mainly on weekends and holidays.
Switching from the front line to playing a supportive role, Gary felt that both postings had brought him different sorts of satisfaction. “Working in the front line as a bus driver gives me the joy of helping people directly. When passengers ask me for directions or say good bye to me when they get off, I feel that my performance has met their approval. Whereas when I am planning inside the office, I am casting a larger influence towards the community. For example, we added a new bus route 290 last year that runs between Tseung Kwan O and Tsuen Wan. Not only did I participate in preparing the proposal bidding plan, I personally test-drove the route, calculated the bus stops and met with the Transport Department to work out the details. When I watched the buses starting to run this new route and passengers giving the thumbs up, I got this feeling that I had contributed something to society. It felt personal,” he says.
Gary (2nd from left) thinks highly of balancing work and leisure. He often goes out to socialize with his friends
To be able to find what one loves to do is a blessing. Gary remembers getting up at four o’clock in the morning to drive a bus but does not consider it as hard work. Even on winter days, he was filled with anticipation for his daily duties. He chuckles as he tells us about the new bus route that he helped to plan ― his own baby ― with its maiden trip being officially driven by him. He was so excited that he could hardly sleep the night before.
Gary offers the following words of wisdom to members of the young generation: “Embrace your dream completely. Although you may be temporarily hindered by current circumstances, continue to build a solid foundation and wait for your opportunity to pop up. As long as you don’t give up, one of these days, your dream shall come true!”
Video ― Messages from Our Alumni