Feature Stories


Journey of Futurepreneur: Futuremakers at Melo Project

University life offers many opportunities to drive positive impact, co-creation, and inspire others in our HKUST communities. We met with Shiny Ho, an Operations Management and Information Systems graduate with a minor in Entrepreneurship (class of 2022), to hear about her journey with the Project Melo.

Project Melo: Futuremakers and Positive Impact

Project Melo is a platform for futuremakers to connect and engage with current leaders and CEOs in Hong Kong to drive positive change for social impact through reverse mentoring, exchanging insights, and authentic connections. This two-part program connects Melo Fellows in dialogue on hot topics with business executives and thinkers and to co-create an impact project with a CEO. This year, there will also be a Melo Summit to present these findings and projects to CEOs, hosted at HKUST’s newly completed Shaw Auditorium in July 2022.

As one of the inaugural Melo Project Fellows in 2021 and an organizing committee member of the 2022 iteration, Shiny’s journey was one of discovery and impact. 

The Melo Program: Co-Creation and Joint Discovery for Real Impact

In the fellowship, Shiny and other fellows worked with CEO Randy Lai of McDonald’s Hong Kong on climate change. Through such discussions, Shiny and her team understood the considerations business leaders face in executing social initiatives and how to link the disconnection between consumers and corporate leaders. “At first, we had a lot of discussion on what to measure and the actions McDonald’s can initiate to tackle climate change. We suggested campaigns we thought were feasible, like using less meat and eliminating plastic in operations.

Our first meeting with McDonald's CEO at their flagship store

But Randy showed us a CEO’s perspective – even a seemingly small action like reducing the use of disposable utensils would create a chain reaction in the entire business operation, from sourcing to budgeting or product design to staff training. Apart from profit making, many considerations tend to be overlooked in the decision-making process. After weeks of insightful discussions, we agreed to start small and young with a children’s education initiative.” Together, they co-created a children’s book of small actions to tackle climate change in Hong Kong’s context to distribute with Happy Meals in July 2021. They also launched a website to continue promoting the educational campaign for children after the campaign. 

The Happy Meal project did not only earn recognition from McDonald’s CEOs but also in the Connect4Change competition. Shiny’s team joined the competition on the recommendation of HKUST Connect and won first place in the open track with their concept of tackling climate change through student education. “They found our concept very interesting, as the process of working with executive-level CEOs to carry it out. The competition provided a rewarding experience and platform for promoting the Melo Program and how HKUST connected us with them.”

(Photo : Shiny Ho's first meeting with McDonald's CEO at their flagship store in the augural Melo Project)

From Melo Fellow to OC – Maturing in the Futuremakers’s role

After graduating from the program as a Fellow, Shiny used her skills and insights as part of the organizing committee. “As a Fellow, you’re mostly absorbing and delivering, but as an OC, you are engaging in stakeholder management in bridging the Fellows and CEOs. They are both very strong-minded groups and want to present what is important to them. By understanding what each group wants, you must find and highlight their common ground.” She also had a chance to take a deeper look into the operations behind the scenes of planning the program and the Summit. “I had to align many interests event sponsors and stakeholders as we plan the Melo Summit for this July – venue, funding, media, and how we want to approach event branding.” 

In the Melo journey, there are two people to whom Shiny is grateful for their nominations to the Program – Prof. Ronald Lau from the Departments of Information Systems & Operations Management and Prof. Erwin Huang from the Entrepreneurship Center. With the support of her professors and her passion for bringing positive changes into the corporate world, Shiny imported the strategies and decision-making processes learned at HKUST into Project Melo and her workplaces

Shiny also appreciates the holistic set of frameworks and concepts her major has equipped her with. “I really like Operations Management, as it teaches us how to make the best decision in life and the workplace. I often approach Melo and the workplace like a business process and tackle them with a bird’s eye view over the whole value chain – the stakeholders, resource providers, and execution teams. This holistic perspective helps me get people together in the Program, especially as an OC this year.”

(Photo : The Organizing Committee of Melo Project 2022)

Futuremakers’ futures are bright

Like many HKUST Business students, Shiny had also taken up internships in diverse fields, from operations with the Airport Authority to banking and financial products, to get herself career-ready. Combined with her mastery of concepts and skills from the classroom, her commitment to lifelong learning and can-do spirit paved a road for career readiness and positive societal impact throughout her career.

Although Shiny will be entering the workforce as a commercial banking analyst at Citibank, her mission is the same: imparting the changing mindset and engaging the youth. “A lot of things can change very quickly in the banking industry, and it needs more talents for digital transformation and younger people’s involvement. Although it is a more traditional setting, I can still take ownership of my projects, engage the youth, and help business owners articulate their new strategies to cater to the changing global landscape.”

She adds that the learnings from the Melo Program and HKUST’s education are complementary. “The Melo mindset is how I enter and understand how the corporate world balances ESG and profitmaking, while the entrepreneurial mindset from HKUST helps me give back through execution of change.” This combination helped her stand out in interviews through the holistic learning and global perspectives she has experienced earlier in her career than her peers.

After going through a rewarding experience at HKUST and Project Melo, Shiny’s future is bright with the change, balance, and entrepreneurial mindsets to bring positive impact and empower the next generation. As Shiny herself puts it, “Leaders are not someone with many followers, but someone who inspires the next leaders.