Dr. Andy LUK, Head of Digital Transformation & Insights, HK Express Airways

Dr. Luk is currently appointed as the Head of Digital Transformation & Insights at HK Express Airways, a Cathay Pacific company.  Dr. Luk is an Academic Practitioner & senior leader in Digital Strategy, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing & Consumer Neuroscience with interests in SEA countries. Dr. Luk assumed many key leadership roles in the regional Startups and Global 1000 companies such as HSBC, MetLife and Bertelsmann Group as C-suite executives in the major corporate functions. Dr. Luk successfully championed various digital transformation projects such as AXA, AIA, HKSAR Government and led to deliver 35+ consulting and advisory projects in APAC region. Dr. Luk was recently honored with CIO100 ASEAN Award 2023 – Top 4 and World CIO200 Legend Award 2023 in recognition of his vision and leadership in driving the company’s digital transformation.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Dr. LUK shared his professional trajectory, the most favorite part he finds about working at HK Express Airways, the secret mantra behind his success, his hobbies and interests, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Dr. LUK, please tell us about your background and areas of interest.

I was born in Hong Kong, educated in UK and Ireland and I am both a Digital Veteran, researcher and University’s Professor.  I have extensive strategic development experience in business, digital technologies and AI in the ASEAN and States.  Having said that my core research interest is still focusing on Consumer Neuroscience stemming from my doctoral study.  Besides, I also keen on International Relations, Political Economic and Philosophy.

What is your most favorite part of working at HK Express Airways?

HKE is a new, aggressive, and innovative airline.  Innovation and digital transformation are the DNA of the company.  I have complete freedom of choices based on the business priority to architect and build disruptive product solutions for different BUs.  And I think this is the coolest thing I enjoy most.

As an expert, what does digital transformation mean to you? What sort of organizational changes are needed to drive a digital transformation?

My job is to accelerate the growth of the airlines despite the up-and-down of the macro economy.  The changes include People’ value, mindset, and behaviors to observe and embrace digital spirit.  The introduction and adoption of Digital technologies, GenAI, advanced analytics, digital competency, omni-channel, and extended development to China.

There are several organizational changes required to successfully institutionalize the digital transformation such as Culture and Value system, International Communication, and external Digital Branding proposition. Open Innovation working ecosystem, internal governance system to facilitate speedy financing of the product and so forth.

What is the mindset that leaders require in order to actually succeed in a digital world?

I would say Open mindset, courage to challenge the status-quos and as a firm believer that digital technology is reshaping our world.

Some of the leaders are very aggressive and hungry to innovate like me, we believe digital technologies and AI are the only means which could greatly strengthen an organizations’ competitive edges given the current economic turmoil of the whole world.

In addition, it would also be critical for a leader to have continue learning the mindset that they need to be the role model to inspire and lead their teams.

What is a culture shift and how do you execute one?

UO is a relatively young airline which we just passed our 10th year anniversary.  Having said that, there are not many people supporting or even putting digital transformation on their own pipeline.  I had quite a difficult time in my first 15 months tenure.  Today, I am confident and proud to say, UO is on the right track to accelerate our DX journey.

I committed mistakes at the beginning of my career in UO because of my aggressiveness to implant DX for the organization.  Too many “Push” efforts rather than creating a holistic “Pull” strategy.  I think being the DX leader, Business mindset, diplomacy and PR skill are the center to succeed.  Digital culture events and training are not effective without the strong buy-in of internal BU/Department Heads.  Therefore, my 2 cents to add are identifying strong allied both internally and externally and delivering something quick and remarkable.  Building trust and credibility for your digital teams and no more “Push” would be necessary.

You recently ranked 4th as Digital Technology Leader at CIO100 ASEAN award. What is the secret mantra behind your success?

I am fortunate to have a great team working with me, back to basic leadership principle, a successful leader should build and nurture a strong team and we can’t live without effective and efficient execution.  All my honors and credits should go to my teams.

In your academic or work career, were there any mentors who have helped you grow along the way? What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

In my career, my heartfelt gratitude always goes to my two ex-supervisors.  And I really hope to express my sincere thanks to them through your publications.  My first mentor, Mr. Paul Moore Jr., he was the ex-US Navy and the Director of AOL.com, his advice to me was, “You only have one job objective as a manager which is to ensure your subordinates’ successes and nothing else.”

My second mentor was Mr. Alex Yung, presently the Lead Partner at Ernst and Young Asia Pacific and he was my supervisor at PCCW.  He was so smart, committed, and serious to any of his posts and his working attitude affects me whole life long.

Which technology are you investing in now to prepare for the future?

I see there are huge opportunities in Deep Learning Algorithm, GenAI, IoT, Web3 and Consumer Neuroscience which could present enormous values to the airlines in harnessing customer experiences and optimizing operating efficiency and passengers’ safety.

Given that the fuel cost is accountable for a high proportion of aviation operating expense, the use of new data science machine learning and deep learning models are not only contributing to the operation efficiency but also valuable in ESG perspective.

What are your passions outside of work?

I like playing golf and traveling around the world for leisure and I teach students to transfer my knowledge and experience to them.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I would stay in aviation field and continue contribute my knowledge to drive the digital transformation for the airline and the industry in Hong Kong.

What piece of advice would you give to organizations embarking on their digital transformation journeys?

Be brave, don’t be a dreamer and act on it now.

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