University of Melbourne Magazine

Drawn by the China factor


    Justin Fung

    Justin Fung (BCom(Hons) 1995, LLB(Hons) 1998, DipML(Chin) 1999)

    Justin Fung is a people person. The Melbourne-born management whiz works for one of the world’s largest headhunting firms, Spencer Stuart, where he pairs corporate clients with senior executives across the Asia-Pacific. But the scale of his responsibility belies his connection to the people whose lives are involved.

    “It’s kind of a privilege,” he says. “You get to speak to these people and hear their life story. There are a lot of emotions caught up on both sides. It’s a big move for anybody to change positions, particularly at senior levels. It involves their whole family.”

    Fung, one of around 2700 alumni based in Hong Kong, specialises in finding executives for major consumer-facing companies. He says it’s part science and part art.

    “We try to assess their experiences and the things they have achieved. Would this person be able to do the same things in a different environment?” he says. “It’s not straightforward.”

    Now 42, Fung spent his formative years studying at the University of Melbourne. He also worked as a research fellow in the Department of Economics and as a research associate in the Melbourne Business School. The long-time pianist even picked up an Associate of Music diploma.

    In 2000, he was recruited by the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm that seemed to mesh with his need to learn more about the world.

    Fung, whose parents are from Hong Kong, also felt called to China. He had fallen in love with the “complexity” of the country during an exchange trip to Beijing and asked for a secondment to Shanghai.

    “There was a real buzz, an excitement,” he says of China. He adds: “In those days it seemed like there was so much potential for so many things to happen and so many people’s lives being changed.”

    Fung also studied Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he worked with other students to found a charity helping rural Chinese communities.