A Powerful Generational Bond
A Powerful Generational Bond

Father and son engineers Joe and John Chan, pictured here in front of CLP’s latest gas-fired generation unit, epitomise the powerful family ties at the company that help it pass expertise from one generation to the next.

 

When John Chan followed his father Joe into a career in power engineering with CLP, he was setting out on a well-trodden path.

 

Sons of working fathers are nearly three times as likely as other children to take up the same careers, a New York Times study suggests – and CLP has a particularly strong tradition of fathers and sons working side by side.

 

The most prominent example is chairman Sir Michael Kadoorie and his son Philip. In this video, Philip recounts his childhood memories of going to Castle Peak and Black Point Power Station with his father, and the experience of trying to follow in his footsteps as he grew up.

Like father, like son

In another close-knit Hong Kong family, John Chan was born with engineering in his genes.

 

He enjoyed model making, assembling and dismantling pieces of machinery from an early age as he grew up learning about physics and mechanics from his father.

 

John Chan and his sister
John Chan and his sister on a visit to Black Point Power Station as children.

"I was so fascinated by my first sight of the super structures at Black Point Power Station, where my father helped build and operate these gigantic machines to generate electricity for the city,” recalls John, who is now 30.

 

As a young boy, John hero-worshipped his father and remembers admiring the smart outfit he wore to go to work in the mornings.

 

“Then one day, I overheard him talking on the phone, guiding his teammates to solve some technical problems,” John says. “The way he articulated his point showed he was a true power expert."

 

“At that moment, I realised it was not only his smart uniform that made him shine, but his dedication and professionalism. It was an example I longed to live up to.”

 

John adds: “It became a strong driving force for me and confirmed by determination to pursue a career in power engineering.”

 

In 2016, John finally realised his dream when he joined CLP as an assistant engineer working in the engineering turbine team.

 

He is grateful to have had his father’s unfailing support throughout the early years of his career, particularly when he first had to get used to working at the power station. “I hope I can make him proud,” John says.

 

John Chan and his father
John Chan says his father Joe is his role model.

Family ties

Joe, 57, began his career with CLP in 1984 as a technician apprentice and was involved in the construction of Castle Peak Power Station and Black Point Power Station in the 1980s and 1990s.

 

“I have long considered the generation team as part of my big family,” Joe says.

 

Like many engineering personnel, Joe had a hectic daily schedule and sometimes worked up to six days a week to speed up the construction of generating capacity to meet Hong Kong’s surging gas-fired power demand in the mid-1990s.

 

Despite his long working hours, Joe took the time to study part-time for an engineering degree and always found time for his family. He also managed to support his son financially to study in the United Kingdom.

 

“I didn’t ask John to take up a career in power engineering, but I did encourage him to explore new horizons,” says Joe. As a father, however, he admits he is quietly delighted to see his son take up his mission of providing Hong Kong with the reliable energy it needs.

Watch the video to hear more about what Joe and John have learned from each other.

 

Passing on the torch

Today, John works on data analysis and resources planning in the Generation Engineering Department, while Joe oversees maintenance work in the turbine feed and cooling team. Although the two have never worked in the same department, they have a lifelong bond through their passion for power engineering.

 

John describes his father as a “walking encyclopaedia” of technical knowledge and experience, while Joe – like many fathers – turns to his son for help when he has problems using his computer or dealing with new technology.

 

Joe will retire in around two years’ time and is proud to have played his part in changing the way Hong Kong generates power as it moves towards a low-carbon future.

 

He says with a smile: “Like my own retirement, it’s a natural process for us to gradually retire CLP’s coal-fired power plants for more efficient and cleaner gas-fired power generation, in the same way that parents make way for younger people to step up and shine.”