10 January 2020
Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi is set to retire this week for the third time in his career. Photo: HKEJ
Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi is set to retire this week for the third time in his career. Photo: HKEJ

When should one call it quits?

There appears to be a huge generational divide when it comes to work.

Take the case of Lenovo (00992.HK) founder?Liu Chuanzhi, 75, who is set to retire this week for the third time in his career.

Called the “Godfather of China’s IT sector”, Liu had first quit in 2005, when he yielded his roles as?chairman and chief executive of the group to Yang Yuanqing after it completed the acquisition of IBM’s personal computer business.

But Liu came back again in 2009 after Lenovo suffered its first loss in a decade because of the financial tsunami. He quit again in 2011 when things settled down but resurrected in 2014 by taking up the chairmanship of Legend Holdings?(03396.HK), the parent of Lenovo, before its spinoff as a listed company.

With his pending retirement, Liu can look back to a legendary career that started in the early ’80s as a computer scientist.

Talking about his plans, he said: “Ideally, I should just be the honorary chairman so I would only be consulted about important and strategic matters. I would just know and let the youngsters do the rest – that is what an old man should do.”

Nowadays, however, youngsters may have a different view of their careers.

Here in Hong Kong, more than?1.4 million people were living below the poverty line in 2018, a third straight year of increase and the highest number in 10 years, according to a government report on the city’s poverty situation released on Friday.

One reason, according to Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong, is that many youngsters go into “naked resignation”, meaning they quit their job before securing a new one. And so they receive no income while in between jobs, and this, in turn, worsens the poverty situation.

Of course, that is by no means the only reason for the increase in the poverty rate to 20.4 percent, or one in every five people.

Secretary Law believes that the poverty situation is not as bad as the report indicates because if one considers the impact of government intervention, the number of people below the poverty line should be around 910,000, or lower than the previous year.

Nonetheless, officials should look into the factors that lead many of our young people into naked resignation.?

Is it because they don’t get any satisfaction from their current job, and their dissatisfaction far outweighs whatever benefits they derive from it??

Is it because their parents are always there to support them, and they can afford not to be employed until after they get another job to their liking?

Or is it because they don’t see the point of holding on to a job that could not provide them with security or offer them the hope of having their own home and grow their own family?

It’s not easy to just quit, which is a leap in the dark. So why do young people do it?

Knowing the root causes is fundamental to arriving at the right solutions. It may also give us valuable insights into the youth-led unrest that has been roiling our city for more than six months.

But it’s funny that some old people don’t want to quit working while some young people don’t even want to work.

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EJ Insight writer