Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa (2017)
Returning from the US in 1972, Dr William Fung joined his family business Li & Fung Limited. Along with his elder brother, Dr Victor K K Fung, he successfully developed the traditional export trading company, founded in Guangzhou in 1906 by their grandfather, into a multinational group with interests in trading, logistics, distribution and retailing. Li & Fung was first on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1973 until 1989 and relisted from 1992. Today The Fung Group has over 50,000 employees worldwide, with an annual turnover of more than US$ 22 billion.
Dr Fung is currently Group Deputy Chairman of the Fung Group and Group Chairman of Li & Fung Limited. Graduating from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, Dr Fung also holds an MBA degree from the Harvard Business School.
Dr Fung sees the development of his family business as a reflection of Hong Kong’s historical relationship with China as a whole. It is a family story, with each successive generation finding their way and eventually achieving success. Dr Fung’s grandfather founded the company in the days of the Guangzhou trade in traditional China trade products, exporting to Western countries through Hong Kong, which operated as an entrepot at that time. All that changed by 1949, and Dr Fung’s father moved the company headquarters to Hong Kong, with the company’s business now linked to the export of Hong Kong manufactures. Then came the third phase from 1979, as China itself developed a new wave of manufacturing, and Li & Fung once again responded to the opportunities of the day, this time with William and Victor at the helm, transforming the company into the world’s leading sourcing company.
In spite of its size, Li & Fung remains essentially a family business and this is reflected in the emphasis on values such as humility and a culture that rewards loyalty and service. The result is a people-centred company where relationships are important and where individuals’ contributions are assessed and recognized over the long term. Care is taken to develop local staff in the international offices of Li & Fung in over 50 countries and local cultures are respected.
Dr William Fung has been widely recognized for his outstanding entrepreneurship. He, together with his brother, was named “Businessman of the year for 2005” by Forbes Magazine, and in 2006 they were honoured in Time Magazine’s “60 Years of Asian Heroes”. In 2008, Dr Fung was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star by the HKSAR Government, in recognition of his contribution to the development of Hong Kong as a leading international trading hub and for his outstanding public service in trade promotion and economic development. He was conferred the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa, by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 1999 and by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2008.
Through his family foundations, which include the Fung Hon Chu Foundation Limited, Fung (1906) Foundation Limited, and the Victor and William Fung Foundation Limited, Dr Fung and his family have provided generous support for meaningful causes in Hong Kong and around the world. Thanks to the support of Dr Fung’s foundations, HKBU has established the Fung Hon Chu Endowed Chair in Humanics, the Fung Scholarships and the Fung Service Leadership Initiative. The latter aims to prepare undergraduate students to be effective leaders, inculcating them with service-oriented values through hands-on experience.
Dr William Fung is a world-class entrepreneur. It is a great privilege to reflect on his outstanding entrepreneurship which has contributed so much to the prosperity of Hong Kong, his significant contribution in promoting the trade and economic development of the city, and his highly valued support for the University in its pursuit of whole person education.