Member of the Month – Dr. Ignatius Cheung

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional background.

I was born in Hong Kong. At the age of 14, my father sent me to Sydney, Australia, to be a boarder at the Trinity Grammar School.After completing my secondary education; I was accepted by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney. I graduated with Honours six years later.

For the next 11 years, I worked as a physician at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, then at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong, and finally went into private practice in Hong Kong.

In 1983, I decided that I wanted to make a greater impact on patient care and enrolled in a two-year Master of Science degree on Health Care Planning & Administration at the University of British Columbia. After graduation, I had worked as a hospital executive at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, and the United Christian Hospital in Hong Kong.

 

Tell us about your family.

I am the eldest of eight children. Our father passed away in Hong Kong when I was 22 and in Medical School in Sydney. Although we were well provided for financially, I had to look after my family’s investments in Hong Kong. That was not an easy task as that was before the invention of the personal computer and email! I also had to assume the role of head of the household. My siblings and I are very close. We see one another frequently, and have shared many trips together.

My brother and sisters are all married, but I am single and still looking for the right mate! I have 14 nephews and three nieces, as well as three grandnephews and four grandnieces. Most of my relatives are in Hong Kong and Toronto. My mother used to live in Vancouver, but after suffering from a stroke about 10 years ago, she moved back to Hong Kong where there were more relatives to look after her. I visit her and my relatives in Hong Kong every year during Christmas and New Year’s.

 

When and why did you join TCC?

I was invited to join TCC in 1985 because I was looking for a nice private venue to entertain my relatives, friends, and colleagues. That was before the development of the current building. I like having meals in the main dining/ballroom, as it was rather grand; however, the tiny gym was poorly equipped at the time.

 

What motivated you to join the TCC Board of Directors?

I was invited to join the TCC Board about 15 years ago, but I was rather busy with my professional work and had to decline. I was invited to join again nine years ago; as I had retired, I was able to devote my time to serve the Club. I felt that it was a great honour to be so invited.

 

Tell us about your experiences on the Board.

When I joined the TCC Board nine years ago, TCC was going through a rough period. The Club had just underwent a $6 million renovation and the bank debt was doubled. It was anticipated that as a result of improved facilities, revenue would increase. Unfortunately, the US mortgage backed security crisis caused a near financial meltdown around the world. Business went down for the Club, restaurant revenue dropped, membership dropped, our defined benefit pension scheme for our staff was short-funded, and the Club was losing money managing the hotel rooms. Financially, we broke our bank covenant and was at risk of having our loans called.

For the first few years on the Board, we were fire-fighting. However, through the talents and devotion of our Board Directors, we gradually dug ourselves out of the financial hole. We decided not to manage the hotel rooms and concentrated our attention on increasing membership and to improve member services. We started to build up a capital reserve fund to pay for future capital projects and to maintain our capital assets. We switched our staff’s pension fund from defined benefit to defined contribution to avoid financial liability in future market downturns. We changed top management in order to focus on membership growth and member enjoyment.

In the last several years, our Club is back on course. Membership is growing nicely, hopefully reaching our target of 1892 shareholders that was set a few years back. We have also halved our bank debt. Such achievements are due to our hardworking staff under the leadership of GM Mr. Peter Jackman, and of course the attention and devotion of our Directors.

 

As President & Chair of the Board, what are your goals for your year?

I have four main goals for this year. First, is to build an entrance way to the Club. This will improve security and privacy for the Club. The planning of this project started two years ago when Mr. Grant Weaver was President. Second, is to renovate and upgrade the Members’ Lounge. The planning of this project started last year when Mr. Ron Miller was President. Third, to continue to pay down the Club’s debt in order to put the Club in a strong financial position when the next economic downturn hits. Fourth, to achieve our target of 1892 shareholders. This number will likely guarantee a healthy revenue growth for the Club.

 

What do you enjoy most about the Club?

My favourite place in the Club is our Health Club. You can find me at the gym at lunchtime every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My favourite Club event is our Gourmet Dinner Series. This takes place on the last Friday of most months. I encourage our members to give this a try in order to appreciate the depth of culinary expertise our kitchen staff has.

Questions?

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