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Ms CHEN Wai Wai Vivien

77th Congregation (2014)

Ms CHEN Wai Wai Vivien
Doctor of Social Science


According to the Infinite Life Sutra, ‘with a compassionate heart, give generously to many, save people from suffering through kindness and benevolence, perform good deeds with sincerity, and never strive against others. Then Blessings will come as life ends, and one will be rewarded by rebirth into a higher state’. Thus, if one can live by these precepts, then one will receive both blessings and wisdom, as well as peace of mind. Born in Hong Kong to a family from Ningpo, Zhejiang, Ms Chen Wai Wai Vivien is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of Nan Fung Group, an enterprise established by her late father, Dr Chen Din-hwa, who was a philanthropist and well-known entrepreneur. Dr Chen was a devout Buddhist of the Pure Land Sect, established by Master Shan-Tao during the Tang dynasty in accordance with the Infinite Life Sutra. Dr Chen exemplified the goals of the sect and was a man of great compassion and generosity. He treated people with mercy and inspired great loyalty in his friends and employees. In her youth, Ms Chen studied in Europe and the United States, returning to Hong Kong when in her twenties to follow her father’s wishes and join the family business. Under her father’s guidance, she assisted in the daily operations of the Group and eventually succeeded Dr Chen as Chairman. Ms Chen is highly regarded in the business world for her acumen and her foresight, while in her private life she is known to be humble, generous, respectful of others and always mindful of others’ feelings. Dr Chen Din-hwa was a leader in the region’s textile industry, becoming known as the ‘King of Cotton Yarn’. He established Nan Fung Textiles Consolidated Limited in 1969, had the company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1970, and then privatized it in 1989. A frugal, hardworking man, Dr Chen devoted himself to business while always following a healthy regimen. With his great intelligence and excellent skills and connections in the business world, the company went from strength to strength and Dr Chen constantly introduced new innovations to improve his products and to maximize efficiency, constantly scaling new heights in the textile industry. Always sensitive to change, Dr Chen had long foreseen the difficulties the industry would face – even when it was at its height in the late 1970s. He constantly explored other business opportunities, invested heavily abroad, and decided to enter the real estate field, eventually holding a diversified portfolio that included textiles, real estate, shipping, investments, finance, construction, and property management. During the 1970s, when Hong Kong’s real estate market was still in its infancy, Dr Chen showed great foresight and purchased land in Quarry Bay from John Swire & Sons. The land became Nan Fung Sun Chuen. Later on, Dr Chen accurately read market trends once again and developed Goodview Garden in Tuen Mun, which proved to be highly successful and propelled Nan Fung into the ranks of Hong Kong’s leading developers. Dr Chen had a deep understanding of Buddhist philosophies. He was strict with himself but lenient towards others; in business, his philosophy was ‘care for others as well as you would care for yourself’. The residential flats constructed by Nan Fung were known not only to be well built but also to be practical. During the design stage, construction plans were carefully drawn up with the buyers’ needs in mind. Hong Kong people will surely remember that the showrooms for properties sold by Nan Fung always displayed numerous Buddhist classics and chant machines for the public to take, free-of-charge. The Buddhist scriptures carried illustrations and texts that were thought-provoking, while the Buddhist chants guided people to good deeds. Dr Chen integrated Buddhism into the business world and was praised by community leaders for his promotion of, and adherence to, Buddhism. Ms Vivien Chen was deeply influenced by her father. She had learned the teachings of her father since childhood and remembered well her father’s words and deeds. Although Ms Chen studied and lived abroad, she followed her father’s example and became a staunch believer in Buddhism. After joining Nan Fung, Ms Chen assisted Dr Chen Din-hwa in the operations of the Group and showed a natural aptitude for real estate, successfully representing the Group’s interests at land auctions. In addition, she was personally involved in reviewing construction plans and promoting the Group’s real estate projects, no matter how big or how small. When Dr Chen passed away, Ms Chen was his natural successor and today, the Group has a market value of nearly 100 billion dollars, with annual turnover in the billions of dollars. In a competitive market dominated by men, Ms Chen has held her own and has proved that she has inherited her father’s business spirit, especially his innovative flair, has promoting the idea of ‘creating new opportunities by embracing change’ as the Group’s future development agenda. She has hired elite business people to join her already strong business team and she is firmly at the helm, standing out as a woman in a predominantly male industry. Ms Vivien Chen has three children, all of whom graduated from top universities in the United States and all of whom have chosen to return to Hong Kong to join the Group. Ms Chen insisted that her children should start from entry positions, as she had done, so that they could learn from the ground up, working with people at all different levels and learning every aspect of the business while retaining the family values set down by their grandfather. The company’s headquarters are located in a prime position in Des Voeux Road Central and the reception area also displays numerous Buddhist scriptures, including the English version of the illustrated Heart Sutra, as well as the more complicated Liang zong shi san zu zhuan lue (《蓮宗十三祖傳略》). All the Buddhist classics are published by Ms Chen’s family and are available to the general public free of charge. In memory of her father, Dr Chen, Ms Chen branded the Group’s rental properties ‘D’Home’, while the Chinese name actually means ‘the home of Hwa’. Ms Chen also plans to revitalize three of Nan Fung Group’s textile factories on Pak Tin Par Street in Tsuen Wan, converting the three buildings into a fashion industry training centre. The project will be named ‘The Mills’ and will also include dining and cultural facilities. When finished, it will be a new landmark for the Hong Kong textile fashion field and will forever commemorate Dr Chen Dinhwa’s monumental achievements in the textile industry, through the Nan Fung Group. According to the chapter ‘Xue Er Pian’ of Analects, “observe a person’s will when his father is living, and then observe the person’s behaviour when his father is dead. If, for three years, the person makes no changes to his father’s ways, he can be said to be filial”. Ms Chen’s respect towards her father, her support of the textile industry, as well as her devotion to Buddhism, show that she is a person who remembers and has deep feelings for her roots. Dr Chen Din-hwa was a benevolent and generous man. He established The D.H. Chen Foundation in 1970 and contributed to medical, educational and welfare causes in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, especially in the spreading of Buddhism, with significant results. Ms Chen has inherited her father’s charitable spirit and is actively involved in philanthropy, making valuable contributions. She is the Chairperson of The D.H. Chen Foundation, a trustee of Chen Yang Foo Oi Foundation Limited, and Honorary Vice-President of the Shanghai Charity Foundation. Furthermore, she is also the Founder and President of The Chen Wai Wai Vivien Foundation Limited and is the Founder and a Board Member of Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association Limited (HEDA). Ms Chen also holds a number of public service positions, including Honorary President of the Shanghai Fraternity Association, Honorary President of International Ningbo Merchants Association Co., Ltd., and is a member of the Board of Governors of Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation. Dr Chen Din-hwa and Ms Vivien Chen have also been staunch supporters of the development of Hong Kong’s higher education, such as academic research activities and students’ welfare. Years ago, The D.H. Chen Foundation established scholarships and a student loan fund to sponsor distinguished students or those who face economic hardship, providing them with the opportunity to complete their studies. Ms Chen was particularly eager to contribute to The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Shaw College since 2012. She and her family’s foundation have made numerous contributions to the Three-Year MBA Programme, as well as to research projects and educational activities related to Chinese medicine, emotional health, eating disorders, physical and therapeutic physical mental exercise. Ms Chen has undertaken to support the development of the CUHK teaching hospital project, allowing the University to provide adequate medical services to the community, benefitting many in need. Mr Chairman, please allow us to recognize this benevolent, caring and loving philanthropist. The enterprise she manages has made outstanding contributions to Hong Kong’s textile industry and real estate development. She has been selflessly dedicating herself to CUHK, showing her care in every possible way. It is my privilege to present to you Ms Chen Wai Wai Vivien for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.