House calls is a series of profiles of some of the committed and enthusiastic members of the team that is driving Reap forward. We want to know why they are with Reap, what roles they play and how they see the company now and in the future. In the fourth of the series we talked with someone with serious athletic credentials, boundless enthusiasm and who is having a great time at Reap.
We now know what is the path that leads to a position at Reap. Play sport; play sport well. We highlighted the sporting prowess of Felix and Anna when we spoke with them before, but CL has one of, if not the best athletics cv that we have come across. That includes everyone, not just those taking their first steps in building a successful career. Coming from a family with a great deal of involvement in Hong Kong tennis, CL swapped the tranquil facilities at the Diocesan Boys’ School for the cauldron of the 2017 Australian Open Junior Championships as part of the ATP Tour. The high point for him was having his own gym session when Rafael Nadal came in with his entourage and took over the next exercise bike. Rafa’s intensity and concentration precluded any pleasantries and chat on the intricacies of the serve and the lob.
In March 2020 CL was picked to be a member of the Hong Kong Davis Cup team playing Poland in that country. He remembers the strange feeling of playing in a stadium with no spectators urging the teams on. The covid-19 pandemic had claimed another sporting event. However, CL is immensely proud of having taken part, saying that playing for one’s country is the highest achievement for any athlete. Although he did briefly consider a professional tennis career, CL moved from DBS to Brown University in the USA. Having played tennis for DBS, where he was the team captain and received a Grantham Outstanding Student-Athlete Award, CL became part of the Brown tennis team with his younger brother and has played many intercollegiate matches.
CL took the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in Hong Kong, a curriculum that emphasises personal choice and development. He found that this approach was even more in evidence at Brown. The university is renowned for its open curriculum policy and for letting students choose the courses they wish to follow. CL says that going to Brown was “the best decision I made”. He was able to take charge of his life as “there is no hand-holding” at Brown. He already had a taste of “getting out of the bubble” of Hong Kong, as he puts it. At the end of 2015 CL went to north Thailand as part of the IBDP. He went to teach underprivileged children but found that this was not teaching as it is understood in Hong Kong. He found himself helping to build a new school as well as standing in front of a class of eager young students. CL has taken a gap year before his final year ahead of graduation from Brown as part of the student centred approach of which he so approves. He is looking to gain as much experience of the world outside academia before starting a full time career.
CL is studying computer science and economics at Brown. His interest in financial matters led him to join the Brown Investment Group and he was able to network with alumni who have gone into finance and investment. However, he had found that he is gravitating towards the software and automation side of his course. In 2018 CL was an intern at a Swiss private bank and the following year interned at a Canadian Bank. There he developed a database to track the status of customers’ documents. He has also spent time as an intern at a Hong Kong real estate trust that is part of a larger investment group.
Ching and Reap
So how did CL come to join Reap? Again, the power of tennis played a part. Having come back to Hong Kong to start his gap year, he got involved in the game again. He knew Felix, another enthusiastic and successful player, having seen him around the tennis courts over the years. A mutual friend introduced them properly and the discussion turned to what CL intended to do. An invitation was made and CL joined Reap in September last year.
CL says that he has enjoyed being a jack of all trades and is happy doing anything that helps Reap to expand. He often works with Felix in business operations and growth, as well as learning a great deal from assisting co-founder Kevin. CL has been able to gain valuable experience by interviewing existing customers to find out why they chose to work with Reap. He also took part in a project that was considering whether to launch a particular new product. He interviewed potential customers to find out their reaction to that product. Although the product was not taken up in the end, CL learned the value of face time with existing and future customers.
That approach sits well with CL. He likes the philosophy at Reap that customers get a personal service. It is always a human that deals with questions and not a robot. This gets the approval of CL the economist as face to face dealing usually means that the concern of the customer is dealt with quicker and more efficiently. He admires the fact that Reap is a small and extremely flexible company, something that everyone at the company emphasises. What has struck CL though is the way that everyone at Reap is invested in the organisation. Everyone has a personal commitment to Reap and has a desire to help it develop at speed and to be successful. This is something that he has not seen at every company with which he has had dealings.
CL says that his gap year will give him a better picture of what he ultimately wants to do. Over the next couple of years he wants to learn “every day”. At Reap he is learning from colleagues and that is what he most appreciates about the opportunity to work here. The team is close-knit, and every member of the team is open with him. Everyone makes time to talk him through the components of the processes they are working on; everyone is fully open to his questions. He sums up his experience by saying that at Reap there is no learning plateau, and that he is constantly learning.
When the dynamic is switched and CL is asked to sum himself up in a sentence, he does not answer straight away, but, like a good economist, considers the question before responding.
He says: “I try to make good relationships; be happy and make others around me happy”. He adds that everyone says he is always smiling. He says, with a smile, that he thinks that he is living up to his own assessment.
That CL makes this observation shows that Kevin, Daren and the whole team have succeeded in making Reap a dynamic, flexible and transparent company that believes in taking its philosophy directly to its customers and engaging them face to face.
CL’s time at Reap will come to an end for the present in April. When he returns to Brown in September for his final year, no doubt he will take up his tennis again. He has proved that sport has the power not only to improve individuals but to also to bring people together for the greater good. As a Japanese proverb says: “None of us is as good as all of us”. No doubt he will look back with satisfaction at the progress he has made, the lessons he has learned and the part that he has played in Reap’s development. Above all, he will repeat to himself the words with which he ended our conversation: “I’ve had a great time”.
Reap is proud of building its success on the foundations of making businesses think that they are bigger than they are, and fuelling the ambition of small businesses. We have great staff and partners, but we never forget that our progress comes from giving you the best solutions that we can, and removing, not adding to obstacles in your way as you make progress as well.