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Yves Luk: Fearless in Hong Kong

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Yves Luk is the go-to guy for Fordham alumni in Hong Kong. Since founding the Alumni Chapter of Hong Kong about five years ago, the Gabelli grad has formed a community of established locals, new transplants, and rotating expats who gather for social occasions and serve as a built-in networking group.

Luk was born and raised in Hong Kong. At 14 he moved to Boston, where he attended Boston College High School and was encouraged to consider Jesuit colleges. That’s how he found Fordham.

“I was invited to join the inaugural class of the Global Business Honors program at Rose Hill,” he says, “and I was offered a scholarship. I was thrilled.”

At Fordham, Luk majored in accounting but pursued a variety of experiences. “I had a professor who told me to explore careers beyond accounting as well because he saw I had an adventurous mindset,” recalls Luk, who had once attended a career fair on campus where he pitched himself to Oglivy as a valuable intern during the Beijing Olympics. He got the job and spent the summer of 2008 in Shanghai, working primarily on an Adidas campaign tied to the event.

“To a certain extent, I became quite fearless,” he says. “I didn’t go through a linear trajectory. When I was offered an opportunity, I went with it. The mentality is quite Jesuit, if you think about it—magis, you should always do more.” After graduating in 2011, he joined a hedge fund in New York before deciding to move back home to Hong Kong. There, he joined Morgan Stanley and immediately contacted Fordham’s Office of Alumni Relations about creating a local alumni chapter.

The group’s big events include a yearly summer bash on a junk boat as well as a winter party on a double-decker tram car that travels the city. And, of course, there’s the Hong Kong Regional Reception, coming up on November 18 this year.

“The majority of our conversation revolves around our life in New York, and we talk quite a bit about U.S.-China cultural differences,” Luk says of the gatherings. “But we are also a part-time job placement agency, helping new members find connections.”

This is an area Luk has a lot of experience in, as he and a few of his Morgan Stanley colleagues founded Bright Minds Capital, a private equity firm, just three years ago, when Luk was 26. He says his Fordham experience certainly helped prepare him to connect with people from all over the world, which has been helpful in his career. “There aren’t a lot of programs where you can travel to Argentina, Beijing, and London over the course of your four years of college,” he says of the Gabelli Global Honors program.

He hasn’t had the chance to return to New York City since he moved back to Asia, but he’s looking forward to visiting the Rose Hill campus again this spring. He’ll be in the city attending classes as part of the master’s degree program in global finance run by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in partnership with NYU.

In the meantime, he will keep connecting with his fellow Rams in Hong Kong.

“I would say that the most practical service I can do is to make sure that everyone who comes to town not feel lonely. I want Fordham graduates who visit Hong Kong to feel that they have people here who have their backs.”

What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about three things: investments, culture, and community. When I mention investments, obviously there’s my passion for the financial services industry. But there is also the investment in people. I’m passionate about making sure I help maximize people’s potential. In terms of culture, I’m an avid music fan, and I play violin, so the performing arts are huge for me. I also speak three Chinese dialects and English, so I enjoy bridging different cultural gaps. And that’s tied to how and why I like to form communities. When people are not informed, misunderstandings start to happen. And I’ve seen many times where people make mistakes when they’re too lonely, without a community.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I have received so far came from my late high school Latin teacher, who I used to spend every Thanksgiving with. He once said that the pursuit of happiness lies not in the pure achievement of goals but in recognizing and taking alternate paths, even when you have the ability to achieve your original goal. The advice actually came through an analogy of reading a book all the way through even when you realize you don’t like it. He believed that, if you really don’t like a book you’re only reading for pleasure, there is no point in finishing it.

What’s your favorite place in New York City? In the world?
My favorite place in New York City is Carnegie Hall. I used to be a season ticket holder, and I love going to see classical music symphonies and concertos. There was also a great deli right next door, Carnegie Deli, that made a great Reuben sandwich. In the world … I don’t think I’m well-traveled enough to figure that out. But right now, I’m very happy to be in Hong Kong. In my mind, it’s a sort of perfect East-West place.

Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
The summer before I started at Fordham, we were assigned The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The book made a lasting impression on me because of its powerful message of how someone can create one’s destiny through openness, persistence, and sincerity. It shows how, if you take a leap of faith, you can end up in a place you would never have imagined. 

Who is the Fordham grad or professor you admire most?
Paul Lynch from Fordham’s accounting department. He shared his personal story of how he decided to pursue academia after his financial career, and he helped dispel some of the myths I had heard about the financial services industry. Some people overglamorize it and wear the suffering and long hours like a badge of honor. But he was candid about it, and he provided me with a new perspective so I could walk into this career with open eyes.

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