Perry Kwok, Leasing and Property Manager at Pret a Manger Hong Kong, shares with A Plus the challenges he faced adapting to the property industry, and how his CPA skills gave him a head start
What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
The scope of my work can be divided into three categories – leasing, project management and facility management. I’m in charge of finding the best location for new stores and performing renewals of lease arrangements for existing ones. I also oversee the construction of all new stores. After a store is built, I need to help address any issues to do with maintenance and repairs. I would say it’s going very well! I previously worked in the audit industry, so going from that to property presents new challenges, but I find it interesting.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
It always feels great bringing a shop to life, and then hearing people say how beautiful – and profitable – it is. The job is also interesting as it requires me to travel to different places and interact with different people such as landlords, developers and agents. I also had to learn how to deal with the construction side of things, which was difficult at first. The construction of each shop presents different challenges – dealing with a low ceiling, for example. I need to work closely with construction companies and contractors too. I learned how to do this by asking different people for advice and spending my free time studying.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
My dad is an accountant as well. I studied accounting in secondary school – it was one of my favourite subjects. Interestingly, my dad and I were able to bond because of our shared interest in accounting. I followed school by majoring in accounting in university, and of course I wanted to become an auditor after graduating.
Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
I love my job and would love to stay here. Pret a Manger is expanding quickly, and there are plans to expand into other Asian cities. I really look forward to helping with this expansion.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
I learned how teamwork can go a long way, and that you should always ask for help. I remember having to work on a tender document to bid for important store locations, which included presenting our brand story, history, menu in order to get the best offer and win the bid. It was completely new to me, and something I could not do alone. With help from my team as well as external experts, including a designer, we were able to do it.
Which continuing professional development (CPD) course was most useful?
I took an online CPD course on leases to help me stay up to date, this is especially important with the introduction of the new leases standard this year.
How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
I think the QP is a well-rounded programme. Module B Corporate Financing helps me the most in my current role, especially when it comes to justifying investments for new shops. It helps me to determine in detail how much to invest when enhancing or refurbishing a current store.