Chasing a China dream

Jeremy Chua FCPA, vice president of finance at Sands China Ltd.

Jeremy Chua’s role at Sands China has put him at the forefront of Macau’s remarkable transformation during the past decade.

Jeremy Chua FCPA chases fast-paced economics. If there is a country on the brink of a new dawn, Chua is eager to put himself in the middle of it.

The vice president of finance at Sands China Ltd has just overseen the construction accounts for the company’s new US$2.9 billion Parisian Macao integrated resort in Macau.

It involved working with more than 100 departments to coordinate the budget and track all the operations required to open and build the luxury 3000-room hotel from start to finish – complete with a half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower as well as a casino, retail mall, a theatre, restaurants, convention centres and entertainment venues. It opened in September last year.

It is the fifth integrated resort Sands China has opened in Macau and the fourth on Macau’s famous Las Vegas-styled Cotai Strip. It is also the fourth integrated resort that has opened since Chua joined the company as its director of financial planning and analysis in 2008.

The Canadian had just graduated with his MBA from Harvard Business School and was on the lookout for a new full-time job when he heard Sands China was looking to recruit for Macau. The Special Administrative Region of China had only opened to foreign companies in 2004, so growth was booming in the tiny territory, which covers just 30sq km.

“I’d heard they were building Las Vegas in Asia, so I came out for the interview and it just seemed to be a great opportunity,” Chua says.

Chua’s career began with GE’s plastics division under a two-year rotational financial management program, following his economics degree at Cornell University. It led to a full-time job with the company in 2001 as a business development finance analyst, a role that eventually took him to China.

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Chua’s mother is from Shanghai but he says he is culturally Canadian. He knew little about China until his family went there on a holiday in 2003. He was drawn to it instantly.

“Back then, everyone was talking about China and how it was the next big thing, and I just felt I had to get to China somehow,” he says.

GE had no formal process for moving US staff into China at that time, but he worked with the HR department to craft a package and a role that would get him there within a year. 

“It was a challenge because I look Chinese but I couldn’t really speak the language, so it was beneficial to come over with a multinational where everything was done in English,” Chua explains.

By 2006 he felt he had the experience to embark on his MBA, so he moved back to the US to further his studies.

In the summer between the first and second year of his MBA, Chua took a two-month internship in India with Tata Consultancy Services to help develop a China go-to-market strategy for one of its products. 

“People were talking about China and India as the growth engines and I’d seen China, so I wanted the chance to see India as well,” he says.

Chua has made a career out of seeking diverse industries and locations, but he feels settled in Macau. Married with two young children, he says being part of a company like Sands China, which employs 28,000 people, means there is a continual stream of projects across various operation departments. 

“Our kids are in school here, Macau is very central to Asia and we do genuinely like it here,” he says. 

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE

“Always stay humble and respectful. No matter how many credentials or positions you have attained, always remember that you didn’t get there by yourself; you are there because a lot of people helped you along the way.”

Read next: Jodie Matthews smashing glass ceiling


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