Interview with Wilfred Kwong, Head of Group Legal, HAECO

Wilfred joined HAECO with a strong calling, after starting out as a Graduate Trainee and trying out different roles on job rotation. He made a compelling case to the management, and not surprisingly, became appointed Head of Group Legal today. Here is why he loves his work and feels so committed to his job at HAECO.   


Q: Tell us something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.


A: I am writing a novel in a style that hasn’t been written before. It is an intuitive process where ideas pop up in my head, and my job is merely to put it on paper. It doesn’t feel like I am writing the novel, but rather the novel is writing itself, and I am merely helping it come into existence. I really enjoy this process, and look forward to completing and publishing it, so I can share it with everyone.


Q: You have been working at HAECO for 10 years. Can you tell us briefly how your journey started and how your role in the company has evolved?


A: I started out at HAECO as a Graduate Trainee, and knew right from the start that my goal was to establish an in-house legal department. After job rotation in various departments (wearing overalls and being a base maintenance mechanic was my favourite!), I naturally settled down in the Commercial team and helped with reviewing contracts. Then I wrote a proposal to the management asking the company to fund my Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) studies, arguing that I would be able to generate cost savings and benefit the company in the long run. Hence gradually, with support from HAECO, I made my goal of establishing a legal department from a possibility to a reality. It has truly been an amazing journey!


Q: Lawyers can have different specialisations and work in a range of sectors. What made you decide that working at HAECO is best for you?


A: I like working at HAECO because of the people, no question. HAECO has a phenomenal family culture and senior staff are extremely generous about sharing their secrets of success. I have benefitted so much from their guidance, work ethics, communication skills and management best practice sharing. I also made many lifelong friends at HAECO. The prevailing culture here is one of mutual respect, friendliness and support. I am very lucky to have landed here and HAECO truly feels like a second home to me.  


Q: What do you enjoy most about working in HAECO?


A: Meeting and catching up with friends over lunch to chat about work, the aviation industry and how life and work are generally going. In terms of work, I really enjoy the diversity of work that we get to do. From multi-million dollar mergers and acquisitions, attending court cases before a judge, to resolving disputes, we encounter new and exciting legal challenges on a daily basis. I gain a lot of job satisfaction from tackling demanding legal problems and presenting solutions in a simple, non-legalese way.


Q: How do you see your recent appointment from Senior Legal Counsel to Head of Group Legal? Do you think the scope of the legal function in the company has changed over the years?


A: I am honoured and privileged to take up the post as Head of Group Legal. It is on the back of the trust and support of numerous senior staff and mentors at HAECO and Swire that I have acquired the necessary training and skills to lead the Group Legal function, which has evolved so much over the past 10 years.


Back when I first joined HAECO, contracts were much simpler. In the past five years, we have seen significant developments in the legal landscape, notably in compliance requirements which have generated a lot more controls and paperwork. Now with the rise of A.I., the way we work will change dramatically, so we need to adapt by finding the best way to overcome these new challenges, and turn obstacles into opportunities.     


Q: Tell us the one accomplishment you are most proud of in your personal or professional life.


A: I feel extremely lucky and proud to have my wife and two daughters. Marrying Candy and being a dad to Candice and Alice are the biggest accomplishments of my life.