The Man Behind Originals Group: Dr. Michael C. S. So

Michael’s family has a business in the insurance industry. He was exposed to the workings of the business at a very young age and was not interested in joining it. However, after many life endeavours, he eventually circled back into the insurance field by integrating his experience in finance and manufacturing into it, in hopes of revolutionising that industry. 

He graduated from the University of Lingnan in the year 2001, with a major in risk management and insurance. However, he developed a heavy interest in IT and decided to further his studies by taking a Diploma in Science and Technology Management at the University of Queensland, Australia. Instead of going back to the family business after obtaining his diploma, he stepped into the IT industry. Being fresh graduate, still green to the field, he developed a hotel video on demand system, hoping that it would enter the market. Unfortunately, the dot-com bubble crashed and along with it, his creation. That was when he reached the lowest point of his life. However, he did not give up. After some convincing from his parents, he decided to go into the family business. Two years later, he moved to the international business department of an insurance firm in Mainland China and proceeded to achieve impressive results in work.

For Michael, the smooth sailing of his career was not without hard work. Despite having an impressive career, he still could not let go of his interest in IT, hence, he resigned and moved to the land developer which is one of a HK listed companies. In his four years with the company, he has participated in the construction of many System Integrated projects such as the construction of theme parks, hotels, apartments and malls. Furthermore, through various job inspections in the Mainland, he mentioned that e-commerce is all-the-rage now and the mainland market cannot be ignored. He pointed out that the experience gained through these inspections gave him an in-depth understanding on the operating models that different companies adopt which benefited his career development. In addition, his prior knowledge on industrial and commercial insurance had allowed him to assess the risks for each company and tailor a complete risk management plan. 

He added that working in Mainland China tested the limits of his courage and his desire to succeed. It made him develop the spirit of fearlessness. “When I was working in that company, I managed to complete 3 years’ worth of engineering in 11 months. I worked to the point where I did not know if it was day or night. At that time, I was willing to do anything that was given to me!” 

When he first delved into entrepreneurship, he was involved in fields such as e-learning platforms, e-commerce platforms and consultant agencies. He went on to partner with several higher education institutions and became the CEO of four listed companies. He was involved in many Chamber of Commerce which allowed him to network with people and eventually managed to secure business opportunities. 

In 2017, Michael’s father retired from the family business. So, Michael decided to take over and integrate IT into it (InsurTech), digitalising the insurance industry one step at a time. Currently, Michael’s corporate team consists of industry professionals, IT, big data analytics, AI, digital marketing and more. He is also collaborating with Prof. Gao Jin and Prof. Yi Hao Ran from the Department of Finance and Insurance at University of Lingnan to strengthen research and analysis on InsurTech. 

Michael thinks that on the road to entrepreneurship, timing is extremely important. “Entrepreneurship cannot rely on trends; it requires data collection and actions at the right time. A successful entrepreneur must be able to make a move when the time is right.” He has now made that phrase his motto in life. The explained that to be able to move at the right time requires observation of trends in the market and good estimation of when is the right time. With the amount of experience he has, he is confident in his current business endeavour which is to research and develop Insurtech.

Other than expanding his business, he participates in many public and Chamber of Commerce’s affairs. For example, he used to hold the position as the Chairperson of the Electronic Commerce Committee of the Chinese Manufacturer’s Association of Hong Kong and the Vice-Chairperson of the Yau Tsim Mong Division of the Home Affairs Department. When asked about his hobbies, he laughed and said that finding happiness is his top priority. He continues to add that he likes watching movies with his family and when he’s free, he likes to do sports. He also said that he used to be a tennis player. When he was at University of Lingnan he founded the tennis society and was the school team captain. Looking back at his university days, he expressed “Back then, students in the university were not studying the degree they were interested in, but the lecturer-student ratio was high, and lecturers had good relationship with the students which are very important for learning.” Michael encouraged his university juniors that in life there are ups and downs, but if they work hard and persevere, they will succeed in life as well. 

As an alumnus of the university, Michael hopes that the university will be able to allocate more resources into research as a contribution to promote social development. Lastly Michael addressed those who were interested in the insurance industry “Insurance is the combination of different professions such as risk management, law and precise calculations. To study insurance, it does not mean to learn only about selling insurance product, it also requires the understanding of its nature. Be open to the insurance industry and choose the line of work that interests you. It will then be easier. ‘To ensure the continuation of this industry, there must be the combination to technology.’