Ming Lai Cheung

Where is your home country?

Hong Kong SAR, China

Where do you live now?

Hong Kong SAR, China

What languages do you speak?

English (Fluent), Cantonese Chinese (Fluent), Mandarin Chinese (Fluent), French (Basic), Hebrew (Basic), Japanese (Basic)

What was the name of your course?

Master of International of Law (2003)

Diploma of Christian Ministry (2005)

Diploma of Creative Arts in Christian Ministry (2007)

Diploma of Community Services (Case Management) with Youth Elective (2008)

Diploma in Law (2009)

Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, Law (2010)

Graduate Diploma, Applied Corporate Governance (Completed in 2011 in Hong Kong)

When did you graduate?

Graduation dates listed above

What was the name of your education provider?

University of Sydney

C3 Church Sydney | C3 College (Formerly Christian City Church Ministry Training College)

University of Sydney | Legal Profession Admission Board

The College of Law

Governance Institute of Australia (Formerly Company Secretaries Australia)

Hero image of NSW Alumni Ming Lai Cheung

For current students and graduates, I would suggest that they follow their heart and passion and go for whatever field or specialised area that may interest them.

Student life

Why did you choose to study in this field?

I chose to study public international law because of my passion for international relations and justice. I was particularly interested in understanding how the legal and political systems are addressing some of the world’s pressing issues. My research interests were on international criminal justice, multicultural conflict resolution, and how global, regional and national institutions may bring solutions. I went on to complete my legal studies and eventually became a qualified lawyer at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The legal knowledge and professional training provided me with an excellent foundation and the necessary skills to contribute to the field.

Why did you decide to study in NSW?

My first experience in New South Wales was way back in the year 2000 when I represented The Chinese University of Hong Kong to participate in the World University Debate Championship in Sydney. It was an incredible experience and I have very fond memories of that time. This was why, after I finished my bachelor’s degree, I travelled back to continue my academic and career pursuit. Studying in New South Wales gave me the best of both worlds – the programs were of top-class quality, and beside studying, I got to meet friends and colleagues from different countries and diverse cultures and enjoy the beautiful neighborhoods especially the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney.

Tell us about your experience studying in NSW

I had a lovely time studying in New South Wales. The colleges and universities I went to had excellent and very experienced professors, instructors, and teachers. They were all very understanding and generous with their time to answer my questions and to guide and support my progress. The student bodies were very international, and I appreciated the opportunities to connect and celebrate different cultures. The friendships and extra-curricular activities really made the experience special. The expectations to be prepared and do well were very high but the assignments and examinations were reasonable. I enjoyed the whole learning process very much.

What was the highlight of your experience living in NSW?

The highlight of my experience living in New South Wales was when I walked into, and continued to be involved in, C3 Church in Sydney. Apart from my academic and professional developments, I was very inspired to be in a vibrant, loving, and creative Christian community. I  actively volunteered regularly to serve the community in children’s ministry, youth ministry, and creative ministry. I had many opportunities to public speak, and to lead and encourage groups of young women. In that nurturing environment, together with the superb support network, I experienced great personal and leadership growth throughout the years.

What opportunities has studying in NSW given to you?

When I first came back to Hong Kong, after spending more than eight years studying and working in New South Wales, I had many job opportunities and the interviewers kept asking me how come I had such a strong “Aussie” accent! My time spent in New South Wales had given me more than just head knowledge and professional skills but an all-rounded life experience. The time spent in the zoo to admire the bizarre animals, the strolls in the beautiful parks, and the leisure of wandering in art galleries and watching shows in the Opera House had enriched my life and given me a very positive outlook on life!

Did you work or undertake projects with employers or industry groups during your studies? If yes, how did this experience benefit your career?

I worked for barristers who specialised in various practice areas during my studies. I started working as a personal assistant for two barristers and doing mostly administrative work, transcription and running errands. As part of my practical legal training, I worked as a barrister’s assistant to another two barristers. I supported the work on matters covering corporate law, family law, administrative law, professional negligence, and international law. The experience gave me great exposure to the profession and the chance to watch the barristers in action in court. It laid a very strong framework for me to understand and analyze complex issues and it was very beneficial for my career development.

Career goals and advice

What are you doing now in your career?

I am now working for The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. in the Global Public Affairs function covering Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. My role involves developing and executing the company’s public affairs strategy in the region. My day-to-day job includes supporting the business, supply chain and public affairs leadership, working closely with brand and functional leaders, and acting as project manager for projects. Prior to this, I worked for Philip Morris International in its regional illicit trade prevention function to devise and execute strategies against illegal cross-border smuggling. Previously, I worked for The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong with government affairs, media relations, and charitable programs and acting secretary to the board.

Why did you decide to follow your chosen career path?

After becoming a qualified lawyer, I relocated back to Hong Kong to pursue my career path in government relations. As previously mentioned, I have a strong interest in public affairs, and my legal skills are very useful in the field. Hong Kong is at the heart of Asia, and it is a world class regional hub for many international businesses. Hence, I have had great opportunities working for global companies in engaging governments in Hong Kong, China, Australia, the rest of Asia Pacific, and the United States as well as working with the local, regional and international media agencies.

Can you share any career advice for current students or graduates?

“Go for gold” – this is a term I learned in Australia! For current students and graduates, I would suggest that they follow their heart and passion and go for whatever field or specialised area that may interest them. I would suggest that they potentially do an internship. I worked part-time in between my studies and during the holidays, including working as a waitress in cafes, a bistro attendant at the zoo and the airport, and a receptionist and attendant in a modern art gallery. I had the best time outside of studies meeting people from all walks of life learning some very practical skills in the process!

What is the best way to develop a social life in NSW?

One of the challenges for me in developing a social life in New South Wales was feeling shy to communicate. But having met some wonderful friends at university, at work and in church, I overcame my fear and became more open and sociable. Taking small steps to connect with school mates, planning some fun travels in the region, and even volunteering in charities, helped me to build a good social network. Sydney is a place where people like to have coffee and hang out at the weekends. In whatever way you find friends, maybe at the university clubs, on the beach, or in your neighborhoods, just be open to meet and chat with new people.

Do you remain involved with NSW? (if so, how)?

My work covers Australia hence I continue to work with colleagues and external stakeholders in New South Wales. I also maintain very good connections with my friends and former colleagues in Sydney.