Sophia KAO Ching-chi
2016 Honorary Doctorate
Ms Sophia Kao Ching-chi is currently a full-time Member of the Central Policy Unit of the Hong Kong SAR Government. With a career that spans both the private and public sectors, she applies her expertise and experience in human resources management to help the Government in identifying, engaging and nurturing talents for public service. Throughout the years, Ms Kao’s career has been underpinned by a calling to serve the people of Hong Kong.
Ms Kao’s association with The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts dates back to 1990, when her daughters attended the Academy’s Pre-junior Music Programme. Grateful for the positive impact of music education on their lives, Ms Kao devoted herself to giving back to the Academy by taking a more proactive role as a volunteer at The Society for the Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) – leveraging her time, energy and network to help raise greatly-needed funds to nurture performing arts talents in Hong Kong.
Ms Kao became a member of SAPA’s Executive Committee in 2003, and has served as its Joint President since 2004. As Joint President of SAPA, Ms Kao has dedicated significant time and effort to ensure the success of the Academy’s major fundraisers. Her efforts have also played an invaluable role in expanding the Academy’s network of friends and supporters throughout society.
A spirit of giving back to the community has consistently marked Ms Kao’s career. A seasoned professional in human resources management and corporate administration, her corporate career began at the former Mass Transit Railway Corporation and culminated as a leader of human resources management functions at major commercial and public institutions, including the Airport Authority Hong Kong – where her contributions were instrumental to the on-time and on-budget completion of the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok. Throughout her career in human resources management, Ms Kao made it her mission to improve the lives of employees and their families, always striving to ensure positive work environments and the best possible benefits.
In 1999, Ms Kao retired from the corporate arena and decided to devote herself full-time to voluntary work in public and community service. Since then, she has served in numerous government advisory and statutory bodies, as well as boards and committees of non-government organisations, which covered a wide spectrum of areas including public policies and strategic development, women’s rights and status, university governance, education, financial reporting regulation, hospital governance, social service and development, philanthropy, etc.
As Founding Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, a regulatory body tasked with upholding the integrity of financial reporting in Hong Kong, Ms Kao led the organisation in its mission to enhance investor protection and reinforce Hong Kong’s status as a major international financial centre. Despite limited initial funding, she was able to successfully establish the Council’s reputation as a credible, transparent, accountable and efficient member of Hong Kong’s regulatory regime – winning the respect and trust of the industry, regulatory and government sectors. Her work identified the need for an independent and robust regulatory framework benchmarked against international standards and best practices; and her proposed regulatory reforms were accepted by the Government and continue to be pursued.
Believing that women should be able to fully participate in society with due status, rights and opportunities in all aspects of life, Ms Kao holds the promotion of women’s well-being and interests close to her heart. As a founding member of the Women’s Commission since 2001, and its Chairperson from 2006 to 2012, she was instrumental in formulating the long-term strategic framework for the development and advancement of women in Hong Kong. Having championed and established numerous programmes that empower women, she is widely regarded as an iconic role model for women in Hong Kong.
Ms Kao was bestowed Honourary Fellowships by Lingnan University, The Open University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 2006, 2010 and 2011 respectively. She was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 2003, and honoured with a Silver Bauhinia Star in 2009 by the Hong Kong SAR Government.