Blending business and a social mission

On Oct 6th 2008, Dr. Thomas Tang, Executive Director of GIFT, was invited to speak to business undergraduate students at HKUST to discuss core human resource issues and challenges in the not-for-profit (NPO) sector. The talk focused on providing students with a broad introduction to NPOs as well as opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in this field.

After giving a brief background on the NPO sector, Dr. Tang continued by identifying the similar challenges that both NPOs and private businesses face such as branding and marketing. However, unlike private businesses, NPOs experience the unique difficulty of measuring their effectiveness given that their performances are often not tied to indicators such as sales or revenue. Dr. Tang went on to discuss the rise of social enterprises or for-profit entities with a social mission which is redefining the NPO landscape. By using a business approach in providing goods and services in areas where there has been a notable absence of government intervention and business involvement, social enterprises are able to move away from dependency on government and donor support which has become a real concern for many NPOs. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Tang stated that while there are many exciting openings in the NPO sector, potential careers in the social enterprise realm provide real opportunities for students to use their business knowledge and skills while also making a difference.

Dr. Tang is experienced in the development and facilitation of various organizational and capacity building programmes using a unique blend of management techniques, policy changes and shifts in work attitudes.