7 Wilfred Wong
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
POWER SCORE: 2,091
POSITION LAST YEAR: 8
CLAIMS TO FAME
Sands China’s first Chinese president
Experience in construction and property development
A high-profile addition to the Sands China leadership team when he joined as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2015, Wilfred Wong has become very much the local face of the company during his three-year tenure.
In recent times he has been increasingly vocal in representing Sands China’s interests, speaking regularly at corporate luncheons and industry trade events as well as taking part more often than not in photo opportunities for the company’s various CSR initiatives. None of this is a coincidence.
The 2015 hiring of Dr Wong as Sands China’s first Chinese President was clearly seen as a politically astute move by Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and his presence will no doubt be viewed as crucial in ensuring there are no nasty surprises from the powers that be as a result of the current US-China trade war and Macau’s impending casino license re-tendering.
There is also the not-so-insignificant matter of the 66-year-old’s vast experience in large-scale property development and management throughout the Greater Bay Area.
Prior to joining Sands China, Dr Wong held positions in top management at K Wah International Holdings – the parent company of Macau rival Galaxy Entertainment Group – under Lui Che Woo; at Henderson China Holdings, a privately owned, Hong Kong-based company engaged in property development and management in the PRC; at Shui On Group, whose holdings include property development, construction and construction materials in Hong Kong and on the mainland; and at Synergis Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Hsin Chong specializing in property management and maintenance.
More recently he chaired the board of directors of Hong Kong-based Hsin Chong Construction Group, which was contracted by Sands China on all of its Macau IR projects.
That experience alone has surely come in handy in 2018 with Sands announcing plans to redevelop and rebrand one of those IRs, Sands Cotai Central, as The Londoner Macao – making it the company’s third themed casino resort in the Asian gaming hub after Venetian and Parisian. Having previously worked extensively on the Parisian while with Hsin Chong Construction Group, Dr Wong noted at a conference earlier this year that Macau’s three most visited landmarks are the Ruins of St. Paul’s followed by the Venetian and the Parisian, and that he was therefore confident that creating a London-themed resort would elevate Sands Cotai Central’s image among tourists.
Fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, Sands China’s Macau man-on-the-ground understands better than most the importance of broadening Macau’s appeal to the wider Chinese tourist market and, in turn, improving their means of access.
It is with this in mind that he earlier this year called for substantial improvements to be made to the border gate crossing, stating, “A better border crossing facility would certainly improve the future for Macau. At the moment the border is a bottleneck and a deterrent for many people.”
Maintaining his interest in regional business initiatives, Dr Wong is Chairman Emeritus of the Pacific Basin Economic Council, an influential alignment of corporations advising governments in the region on ways to improve their business environments and reduce trade barriers.
And the Harvard graduate’s career in public service has certainly been a distinguished one. He served as Hong Kong’s Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service and Deputy Director General of Industry. He was intimately involved in the restructuring of the territory as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC as a member of The Basic Law Consultative Committee, a member of the Preliminary Working Committee for the Hong Kong SAR Preparatory Committee and then a member of the Preparatory Committee itself. When the SAR was founded in 1997 he was one of its deputies to the National People’s Congress and held the seat for 15 years.
For the full list of 2018 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.