Founder, OWN Academy; executive producer and host, “Dream On”
While she was growing up, homegrown Hongkonger Natalie Chan thought she only had a few career options: medicine, law, or finance. “I didn’t really question them too much. Instead, I followed the system and did everything right according to societal and familial expectations,” she says.
After university, Chan landed her first corporate job and had a reality check. “I was utterly unhappy.” She went through a few career changes and worked as a teacher, a masters of education student and film producer — which ultimately led to her founding the OWN Academy in 2016.
“OWN Academy was born because I wanted to help the next generation to avoid going through the same mistakes and hassles I did. I wanted to change the system and the way in which students learn, but more importantly, I wanted to introduce learning with a purpose.”
“I see a lot of my peers being stuck in corporate jobs and disliking what they are doing — and they can’t get out because the older we are, the more risk-averse we become,” she says.
The organization is an alternative education solution that is all about applied learning and connecting it into real life. Passionate industry professionals are recruited as teachers, and learning environments are created within their workspace.
“We have classrooms all over Hong Kong. We reverse engineer learning: Instead of having students learn about subjects which are hard to connect to the real world, they learn about life and then realize why it is important to do well in different subjects.”
While OWN has been a huge success, Chan also works as an executive producer on “Dream On”, a reality documentary series with a social purpose based in Hong Kong. It aims to raise awareness about different social issues through identifying inspiring individuals who have a passion, talent or dream — and help push them along the way. “We strongly believe in the power of a community in making all dreams come true.”
Her very first job? IT Consultant at Deloitte.