HK CIO Awards: From AI researcher to CityU CIO

During the first half of his 30-year tech career, CityU CIO Andy Chun -- winner of the Hong Kong CIO Awards 2012 in the medium enterprise category -- was in the US focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) R&D. Fascinated by Hong Kong’s lifestyle and opportunities for AI pros, Chun decided to return in 1994 to the city where he was born.

“Back then, only a handful of IT pros had experiences in designing and developing sophisticated, real-time, and fault-tolerant mission critical apps while the number of AI pros was even smaller,” said Chun who helped the MTR, the Immigration Department, the Hospital Authority and the equestrian-event portion of the Beijing Olympics build different systems with AI technologies.

After his rich industry experience, Chun made a move to become a CityU professor more than a decade ago. “I’m always interested in teaching,” he said. “Nothing’s more rewarding than seeing the gleam in students’ eyes when they learn something new or create things that work.”

From teaching to CIO
Chun decided to take on the new role of CIO at CityU in 2009. “The bits and pieces of my varied experience helped prepare me for the CIO role that requires one to understand trends, create visions, define strategies, transform business, enable changes, and empower people,” said Chun who was also awarded the Computerworld Honors Laureate medal in Washington DC this year.

Now he heads a team of 150 people. Besides the university datacenter, student services, and enterprise systems, Chun is also responsible for building standards for IT teams managed by CityU’s various colleges and departments to follow.

“CityU is different from a lot of universities in Asia,” said Chun. “While other universities might see IT as a unit that keeps the computers running, CityU sees IT as strategic to its operations and education. It’s the only university in greater China that has hired a CIO.”