Wong Kar King’s personal and business story would not be complete without mentioning his wife, whom he met while they were classmates at Queen’s University in 1981. Like him, she obtained her bachelor and doctorate degrees in engineering. Indeed, the two were academic rivals in their first year as undergraduates.
The couple married in 1989 in the UK and, for the next 10 years, they lived at NTU. His wife left the university to join Advanced in 2002 to help look after the company’s finances and, today, holds the role of non-executive chairman. Wong admits she was a reluctant employee initially.
“She never thought of joining me. She is the opposite of me; business is not in her blood. But I convinced her to retire from teaching and ‘blackmailed’ her to help me out for a short period of time between 2000 and 2003, when we were expanding the business aggressively. I was overseas a lot and if she hadn’t looked after the company’s operations, I’m not sure if it would be the same today.” The couple have three daughters, aged 17, 22 and 24.
As chairman, she is no longer active in the company, which helps limit the chances of any conflict between the spouses.
“We only have a situation four times a year when we have to meet in the office, and generally she tolerates me during those two hours,” he says with a chuckle.