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News > Alumni Spotlight Series > Jonathan Shun Wah (Class of 2000) - GSIS Board Member & Lawyer

Jonathan Shun Wah (Class of 2000) - GSIS Board Member & Lawyer

Meet Jonathan - Board Member and Alumni of GSIS. He shares with us his career journey of becoming a lawyer and what made him stay connected to GSIS...
29 Jan 2021
Written by Vera Coetsee
Hong Kong SAR
Alumni Spotlight Series

Name: Jonathan Shun Wah

Graduating class: 2000

Years at GSIS: 13

College & Degree: Bachelor of Accounting & Law, Manchester University. Postgraduate Certificate in Law, University of Hong Kong

Current residence: Hong Kong

Could you briefly introduce yourself (background & profession)?

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, married to a GSIS alumna and father of a son (7) and a daughter (5). With my degree, I could have embarked on a career in finance or law, but since I have no feel for numbers, it made sense that I should become a lawyer.

How did you become a lawyer?

Originally, I wanted to be a history teacher, but that didn't seem to be in demand at the time. Growing up in the golden age of soap operas, mostly with lawyers wearing tailored suits, driving fast cars, and always going to happy hour, this seemed like a good career alternative. Of course, I didn't know then that reality and fiction can be very different.

What is your biggest success of your career so far?

The confidence of my company to entrust me with the most difficult role in the department where I deal with complex problems.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

To manage two teams remotely and to be responsible for the culture of a department worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic and to keep motivation high.

What do you like most about working as a lawyer?

Legal discussions that I win (as I always lose when arguing with my wife).

What is your advice for all graduates who are aiming for a law career?

In order to advance in this profession, you need actual practice and you have to be passionate about further education. When doing internships, one should always try to be proactive to get as much real legal work as possible in different departments and to see which area is most interesting for you.

What are your plans for the future?

No concrete long-term plans, but I hope that I can continue to make a contribution to the school.

You are also the vice chairman of the GSIS Association and Foundation. What do you have in common with GSIS?

My connection to GSIS has strengthened as I was a student here for 13 years and then worked in the GSIS alumni program for 10 years. I have my best memories from that time and made my best friends while I was in elementary school. I also went to the Christmas bazaar every year. These traditions, friendships and contacts naturally helped to keep in touch with GSIS.

What was your most memorable moment at GSIS?

A Christmas performance in elementary school where my mother disguised me rather unfashionably as a Roman with an oversized undershirt cut out.

Which friends or teachers you met at GSIS did you keep in touch with?

I stayed in touch with pretty much everyone in my class and my wife's class, as well as some with whom I worked on the alumni program. I am always interested in following the Facebook pages of Ms. Peart and Ms. Maegerlein.

How did your experience at GSIS contribute to who you are today?

One of my hiring managers on a previous job told me he could see that GSIS graduates are of a different caliber - hard working, smart, humble, and internationally minded. I think he's probably right.

What was your favorite subject at GSIS and did it have something to do with what you actually did later?

History. It doesn't really have anything to do with my job, but we make history and I like to use lessons from the past to guide myself in the future.

If you would like to tell something about yourself in an “Alumni Spotlight” article, please contact us!

____________________________________________________________________

Name : Jonathan Shun Wah

Graduating Year (the graduating class you belong to) : 2000

Years at GSIS : 13

University College & Degree : BA Accounting & Law, Manchester University. Postgraduate Certificate in Laws, University of Hong Kong

Current city of residence : Hong Kong

Could you introduce yourself a bit (background & profession)?

Born and bred in Hong Kong, I'm married to a fellow GSIS alumni and a father of a boy (7) and a girl (5). With my degree, I could have gone down the accounting or the law route, but given my lack of sensitivity to numbers, it became logical to become a lawyer.

How did you get into law?

I originally wanted to be a history teacher, but this didn't seem to be fashionable at the time. So having grown up in the golden age of TVB soap operas, especially those with lawyers wearing tailored suits, driving fast cars and always joining happy hour, that seemed like a good alternative career. Of course, I didn't realize at the time that reality and fiction can be quite different.

What is your biggest achievement in your career so far?

Being trusted by my company enough to be parachuted into one of the most difficult roles in the division and successfully helping to troubleshoot.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?

Managing two teams remotely, and being responsible for a division's culture globally during Covid-19 and keeping morale up.

What do you like most about being a lawyer?

Debating law and winning (since I always lose when I debate with my wife).

What is your advice for any alumni looking to start a career in law?

Improving yourself in this career requires actual practice and sustained passion. If you get internships, always try to be proactive to experience as much real legal work as possible in different departments to see which area would be the most interesting area for you.

What are your plans for the future?

No specific long term plans, but I hope to be able to continue to contribute to the school.

You are also the Deputy Chairman of the Associations and Foundations Board at GSIS. What made you stay connected to GSIS?

My connection with GSIS has strengthened since I spent 13 years at GSIS as a student and 10 years helping with the GSIS alumni program. I have also made my best memories and friends during my primary days at GSIS and going to the bazaar every year has helped me to stay connected. These traditions, friendships and connections naturally helped me stay connected to GSIS.

What was your most memorable GSIS moment?

A primary school Christmas production where my mother dressed me rather unfashionably as a Roman using a cut out oversized undershirt.

Which friends or teachers that you met at GSIS have you stayed in touch with?

I have stayed in touch with pretty much everyone in my class and my wife's class, as well as some of those who I worked with on the alumni program. I love following Mrs. Peart and Mrs. Maegerlein's facebook pages.

How did your GSIS experience contribute to who you are today?

One of my hiring managers in a prior job told me he could see that GSIS graduates are of a different caliber - hard working, smart, humble and international in scope. I think he is probably right.

What was your favorite subject at GSIS and was it related to anything you actually ended up doing?

History. It doesn't really have anything to do with my job, but we are creating history and I like to use lessons of the past to guide me on how I conduct myself in the future.

If you are interested in being featured in an Alumni Spotlight article, let us know!

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