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05 Jun 2024
Dreams take flight


Cathay’s General Manager Digital, Aldric Chau, found his passion in aviation as a teenager, when he joined Cathay’s “I Can Fly” programme, a unique, employee-led initiative combining aviation know-how and social service. Twenty years later, Aldric has returned to the programme as an employee leader, and he finds joy in helping youngsters reach their aviation dreams.

What does your day job entail? 

The Digital team stays abreast of emerging technology and utilises data to create value: that includes enhancing customer and employee experiences, improving efficiency, and ultimately achieving our business objectives. We spend a lot of time understanding the pain points and opportunities, and then marry them with the right technology to deliver the right business outcome.

Can you share an example of tech in action?
Sure! A recent example is how we manage our engineering operations. Every day our engineers manage more than 300,000 aircraft parts. Leveraging operational data from multiple sources, our data scientists built a machine-learning model to optimise the inventory levels and avoid shortages of required parts – saving approximately HK$30 million per year.

You’ve had a diverse career path. What have you learned from working in so many different roles?
My career spans inflight services, business improvement, country management, commercial, and now digital. I’m constantly learning to adapt to different jobs and different workplaces.

I’ve learned that, as an effective leader, you need to adjust your leadership and communication style. For example, generally speaking the inflight service team is customer-facing, hence typically extroverted, whilst we see more introverted people in teams such as IT and digital. Whether a colleague wants to discuss a problem over a coffee on the spot; or prefers to take the time to let it sink in and then communicate via Slido, Teams or emails – no one style is better than the other. The key is to be empathetic with people’s needs and preferences.

When did you first become interested in a career in aviation?
As a secondary school student, I was already an aviation fan – I still remember being part of the crowd waving goodbye to the last plane departing from Kai Tak Airport. Back then, I only had a vague impression of aviation equals pilots and cabin crew. My friends and I signed up for I Can Fly and it completely widened my horizons. After visiting Cathay City, the Civil Aviation Department, and the Government Flying Service, etc., I discovered a much broader ecosystem with many exciting roles I didn’t know existed.

Aldric (right) and students in a tour at the Cathay City.Aldric (left) relishes his time with youngsters and appreciates the opportunity to help them achieve their aviation dreams.

You’ve come full circle from student to employee leader. What does it mean to you?
Having been through the whole experience myself, I find it easy to empathise with the students and relate to their needs, and so I do my best to openly share my own experiences and thoughts. Apart from aviation-related topics, the students often ask me about their own futures. Last weekend during our exchange tour in Zhuhai I got asked: “Will A.I. be replacing all our jobs in future?” to which I gave my honest views and advice. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction when I see them become inspired. I am glad to be part of their learning journey.

As an employee leader, what have you learned about the younger generation?
Youngsters these days are very self-aware. For example, during the orientation, many of them would include their MBTI [personality] type when introducing themselves, and they want to be heard and seen as individuals. They also value sustainability and diversity. When choosing their careers, it may not just be about money or job title, but also alignment with their beliefs; this is something we need to consider if we want to be good employers and leaders.

Do you have any words of wisdom for those who aspire to work in aviation?
With a clear vision and can-do spirit, you’ll be able to overcome any obstacles that may get in your way – just as Cathay managed to rise above the unprecedented challenges during the pandemic. Never let your past failures or successes define you. You can always achieve more and keep improving. That’s what Cathay’s “Move Beyond” brand promise means to me.