Born into a family of teachers, Lu Kai was bound to choose a career that has seen him supporting other professionals. In his role as vice general manager at Yuexiu Husbandry based in Guangzhou – part of Yuexiu Group, a state-owned enterprise (SOE) – he connects with staff across the organisation. And as an educator, mentor and advocate, he guides young accountants.
‘Both my parents teach at the South China University of Technology, so it’s kind of within my genes,’ he says.
‘Accounting is a really fantastic field because it breaks down industry boundaries’
Established in Hong Kong in 1985, Yuexiu Group’s businesses stretch across four primary sectors – real estate finance, transportation infrastructure and agriculture and food. It’s an organisation Lu knows inside out, having started his career there in 1998 in the property division in Guangzhou, and he has certainly made his mark.
As head of strategic development and investment department at Yuexiu Transport Infrastructures, a role he took on in 2017, the division saw its asset scale increase by 50% from 24 billion yuan to around 36 billion yuan through a series of mergers and acquisitions. As a result, he was invited to join the board of the China Highway and Transportation Society.
Vice general manager, Yuexiu Husbandry, Yuexiu Group, Guangzhou
Associate director, finance department, Yuexiu Group, Guangzhou
Head of strategic development and investment department, Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure, Hong Kong
Head of internal audit and risk department, Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure, Hong Kong
Head of investor relations department, Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure, Hong Kong
Finance associate, Yuexiu Group, Hong Kong
Accountant, Yuexiu Property Company, Guangzhou
Across his 25-year career, Lu has embraced the opportunities to explore Yuexiu’s different sectors. ‘Accounting is a really fantastic field because it breaks down industry boundaries,’ he says, noting that Yuexiu encourages employees to immerse themselves in the group’s various sectors through its rotation system – modelled, he explains, on the myth of the rebirth of eagles.
‘Pig farming used to be a heavily polluted sector so we are fortunate to ride on the digitalisation wave’
‘The legend goes that eagles extend their lifespans by removing their beaks, talons and feathers in order to grow new ones,’ Lu explains.
Lu took on his current role, as vice general manager of Yuexiu Husbandry, last July. The division’s main business involves pig farming, ‘though we are more of a pig “real estate” company now than a pig breeding company,’ he says.
Yuexiu operates environmentally friendly, multi-storey pig farms suitable for urban areas. An advanced air filtration system not only filters odour but also prevents the spread of diseases, while waste water is purified for farmland irrigation.
‘Pig farming used to be a heavily polluted sector so we are fortunate to ride on the digitalisation wave,’ says Lu. ‘With IoT [Internet of Things] devices and other smart equipment, we can learn a lot about the status of the livestock just by taking a look at the data board.’
After graduating from South China University of Technology in international finance and computer science in 1994, Lu joined Yuexiu Group’s real estate subsidiary. This was at a time when reforms were leading to a property boom across mainland China’s coastal cities.
Lu recalls being tasked with digitising three months’ worth of paperwork after a back-up disk was destroyed in a rainstorm. Tedious as it was, the experience fast-tracked his understanding of processes.
‘More than once, I have found that my ACCA studies were in sync with my own experience of working across various functions’
After being relocated to Hong Kong, Lu was promoted to investor relations manager at Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure, working his way up from the internal audit and risk management department to become head of strategic development and investment department.
Alongside his day job, Lu has managed to carve out time to support students and younger professionals. He is a frequent speaker at university seminars across the Chinese mainland, serves as a mentor and thesis instructor at Jinan University in Guangzhou, and is a part-time lecturer for ACCA’s strategic business leader (SBL) course. Since 2016 he has also worked closely with ACCA Guangzhou, first as a judge in its annual Job Hunting Competition and then as a coach supporting entrants, and has been a member of the ACCA Southern China steering team since 2017.
It’s no surprise, then, that he was recognised in last year’s ACCA China Member Advocacy Awards for his contribution to ACCA’s communities as well as his work in promoting ACCA in the SOE sector.
Lu admits that his decision to enrol in ACCA initially came more from pressure than choice. After relocating to Hong Kong with two teammates, the trio were given an ultimatum by their supervisor: gain an internationally recognised qualification or start looking for new jobs.
Yuexiu Group incorporated in Hong Kong SAR
Core businesses spanning real estate, finance, transportation infrastructures and agriculture
Listed subsidiaries in Hong Kong SAR and the Chinese mainland
Total assets as at the end of 2022
Net profit in 2022
Lu chose ACCA but the intensity of business travel meant that he had to postpone sitting exams for four years; he finally qualified in 2014. He credits ACCA with providing him with a strong framework that has consistently supported his career.
‘More than once, I have found that my ACCA studies were in sync with my own experience of working across various functions from compiling financial reports to managing investment, audit and assurance and strategic business planning,’ he says, adding that his improved English writing and presentation skills have helped him to stand out in Hong Kong in particular.
Since 2016, Yuexiu Group has been an ACCA Approved Employer and last year, with Lu’s support, became an internship base, providing 10 internships annually for ACCA members.
He acknowledges the drive and ambition of ACCA members. ‘It’s not easy to make up one’s mind at college or in early career to prepare for 14 exams for just one certificate,’ he says.
‘The self-motivation must be stronger than your peers. Call it a booster, a driver or an engine; that’s exactly what keeps one striving relentlessly for excellence and resisting the temptation of complacency.’