Interview: Sun Life HK CEO Roger Steel on the 2012 Dragon Boat Championships


Interviewee: Mr. Roger Steel—CEO at Sun Life Financial Hong Kong

Interviewer: Ms. Angela Dong—Management Trainee at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong


June 23, 2012


1. What are some of the highlights of this year’s competition?


The highlights of this year’s competition include:

         Increase in the number of boats and teams—more than 250 local and overseas teams with more than 5000 paddlers have enrolled to compete at this year’s dragon boat competition.

         Technology—not only our boats are upgraded to fiber glass material, but we are also having our exclusive “TVB fun” apps, where people can shoot a 20-second video relating to the event on their mobile phone and upload to TVB fun before 6:00 p.m. on the same day to win a cash prize up to HK$10,000.

         One of another technology highlights is the iButterfly apps. By capturing 3 Sun Life virtual butterflies, attendees can get a free ice cream on site.


2. What role do you believe the Stanley Dragon Boat Competition has been playing in both the local community’s and Hong Kong’s history, cultural promotion, as well as in their international influences?


The Dragon Boat Competition has definitely been playing a very important role in both local community’s and HK’s history. It symbolizes Hong Kong so well that it is both an international and a very local event. As you can see from the number of foreign paddlers as well as spectators we have got this year—we have an international paddler in every boat if it’s not already all foreign paddlers! (In a way, it also represents Sun Life Hong Kong’s image—we are an international company deep rooted here in Hong Kong—this year is Sun Life Hong Kong’s 120th anniversary!)

Also, the dragon boat competition is absolutely a great way for team building. Paddlers have 16 hours of practice before the actual competition—during these many hours; they can learn a great deal of coordination, cooperation as well as mutual understanding and support. A women’s team is so determined to win that all of them have actually been working out in a gym together after work!


3. How do you think the competition has evolved over the years, since its 1st competition 45 years ago?


45 years ago, the competition scale was a lot smaller. We didn’t have these many boats, these many paddlers, and these many audiences! Now, not only has it become a world-class event, but the fun has multiplied as well! This is due largely in part to the new technology (apps) so that everybody can get involved and engaged!


4. Can you explain some of the main advantages fiber glass boats have over traditional wooden boats?


Firstly, fiber glass boats are lighter—that makes it easier to travel in the water as well as moves faster. Secondly, fiber glass boats are exactly the same, while the wooden boats can have certain degrees of variation due to natural material’s difference, distortion or deterioration due to exposure to moisture and elapse of time etc. Thirdly, fiber glass boats definitely last longer and are more environmentally friendly.


5. Do you think the participants’ and audiences’ focus of interest (or, their motivation of participating in the competition) has changed over the years? Why or why not?


I think people’s interests in participation have gradually changed from the traditional celebration of Tuen Ng Festival to a spirit of involvement. As you can see, since the dragon boat competition is such a great way for team-building, more and more companies/organizations have encouraged their employees to come out and participate in this team-building sport—as the practice alone requires so much commitment as well as determination, and serves as a great way of uniting and reconnecting. And of course, people are more orientated toward “fun-ness”; this can be seen from this year’s “Fun Costume Competition” where people are purely enjoying themselves!



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