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星期四 2017年4月20號

【SCMP Education Post:Boarding Insider】 One of a kind UK alumnus

Sometimes, but not often, I find myself in the presence of extraordinary people whose success and humility know no bounds. On an unforgettable night of dinner and conversation at the British High Commissioners Residence in Kuala Lumpur, I spoke with legendary shoe designer, Jimmy Choo OBE. Modest, kind and with an unwavering optimistic view of life, this is one of those exceptional people who will leave a mark on me for a long time to come …

With his words of wisdom, intriguing stories and laid-back style, Jimmy Choo reeled in and captivated those around the dinner table. Jimmy told stories about his father, a shoe cobbler, who ordered his son to sit quietly and observe him at work. Patience was clearly of the essence for Jimmy, and he is grateful to his father for this immersive and eye-opening experience. Jimmy’s hunger for shoe design grew day by day and he went on to make his first pair of shoes at the age of eleven.

With a thorough grounding in the craft of shoemaking under his belt, Jimmy went to England in the early 1980s to study at the Cordwainers Technical College, where he graduated with honours in 1983. In August 2000, Cordwainers College, a specialist school for shoemaking and other crafts, was merged with the London College of Fashion.

Engaged and riveted with British culture, and buoyed by the “knowledge and skills” he had learned at Cordwainers, Jimmy chose to remain in the UK. He opened his first shop in Hackney in 1986 and his reputation quickly went from strength to strength. In 1988, Choo’s shoes were featured in Vogue magazine. Celebrities and royalty began to take notice of Jimmy’s work with Princess Diana of Wales becoming a devoted customer at the turn of the 1990s. Further successes were inevitable and, by the late 1990s, Choo had stores in LA and New York with Hollywood celebrities such as Julia Roberts and Halle Berry known to be keen followers of all-things Jimmy. Today, Choo’s clientele is just as illustrious as it was in the 90s with Michelle Obama and Beyoncé among the most notable clients. The Choo brand has also branched out to include handbags and other accessories.

Jimmy Choo’s values have clearly been shaped by a disciplined childhood and an eye-opening period of study in the UK. When growing up in Malaysia, his spare time was devoted to learning new skills, and his time at College in London, where approaches to shoe design were utterly unique, made Jimmy even “hungrier” for fresh knowledge. In his words: “I am still learning and still a student and I change every day because I am still learning”.Around the dinner table, it became clear to me that A-list celebrities, luxury retail clients, money and recognition do not totally rule Jimmy’s life and heart. I think that my assumption shines through in the great man’s words, actions and down-to-earth demeanour. On the surface, Jimmy is a regular guy and a man of the people. As Global Ambassador of the British Council Alumni Awards, he delights in getting to know UK university alumni and sharing their success stories because he feels indebted to the lecturers and whole experience of studying in the UK which combined to change his life and contribute to his success. Jimmy also gives back to his local community and is heavily involved in a project to establish a shoe academy worldwide. He also donates money to local charities and raises money for young students. Most admirably, Jimmy is prepared to travel to all corners of the world to foster young designers and teach them he skill of shoe crafting. One of his most famous protégés is Illiza Ho, who veered away from shoe design towards the creation of handbags under Choo’s mentorship.

In terms of getting to where one wants to be in life and dealing with people on a personal and professional basis, Jimmy’s advice struck a chord with me: “Be nice to people - don’t lose your temper”. He went on to say that “you are not the best - just ask people if you don’t understand something”. Wise words from a man who has no doubt seen the best and the worst in humankind over the past thirty years or so in shoe design.

Overall, Jimmy Choo is the perfect example of someone who has made the most of their British education and deep cultural immersion in British culture. It is not just about grades and certificates, but networking, upholding principles and values passed down by parents and grandparents, remaining humble and truly appreciating the work of influential lecturers and colleagues at British universities and colleges. With Mr Choo, there is no hierarchy when you speak to him - man to man, equal to equal. Something for all of us to think about and bring to our workplaces.


Samuel Chan is the Managong Director of Britannia StudyLink.

Original article:



1 寄宿百科 2 英國大學
3 談英國 4 赴英須知
5 赴英遊學 6 選校攻略
7 留英所得 8 親子關係
9 英名校大比拼 10 留英專家分享

陳思銘(Samuel Chan) 並非如一般外界人所認為的「富二代留學生」,家人數代都在流浮山經營海鮮買賣,父母學歷程度雖然不高,但努力工作賺錢把Samuel從小(9歲)就供養到英國寄宿學校格雷舍姆學院 (Gresham College)讀書,才能讓他早早就體會到英式教育優越全世界的原因。
Samuel Chan在留英之前亦都曾苦於在香港的教育體系中掙扎求存,但是香港朝令夕改的教育制度卻令他的成續止步不前,甚至感到老師也對自己失去興趣。直到接受英式教育後,他深深感受到兩地學制的差異:在英國,永遠是先發掘學生的興趣,再透過「興趣」作為推動其學習的原動力,釋放潛能。在英國,他獲得了使自己能夠表達自己並嘗試新事物的信心,最終以優秀的成續升讀英國頂尖的學府。
Samuel Chan留英長達15年,在諾定咸大學(University of Nottingham)獲得經濟學學士後,在華威大學(The University of Warwick)攻讀完政治經濟系碩士後回流香港。回流香港的Samuel鑑有感於香港教育制度無法充分釋放學生潛力,於是回流英國的他創辦了英識教育,以幫助更多有志留學英國的同學提供各類支援及顧問服務。
白手興手固然辛苦,但奮鬥數年英識教育終獲香港品牌發展局頒發「香港服務名牌」的升學教育中心,亦是同業首間獲此認證的品牌。後來,Samuel於2017年奪得「英國傑出校友獎」,該獎是英國文化協會及多家英國高等院校的共同構思,並由英國文化協舉辦,評選活動獲不少名人及王室人員支持及參與。可見,讓身為香港人的「陳思銘」的名字深深烙印在英國學術界傑出人仕的陳列櫃中。雖然事業受到肯定,但Samuel並不安於現狀,後來在2020年更創立Britannia Gateway 的學術培訓平台,提供更多元化的課程以幫助客戶適應英國課程。

論名氣,Oundle 未追得上 Eton、Wycombe Abbey 等頂級名校,但學校的學術成績在英國依然名列前茅。作為傳統名校,Oundle 非常重視全人發展,為學生提供多元課餘活動選擇。學校奉行英國碩果僅存的 House Dining System,或是令香港家長趨之若鶩的一大原因。
Bromsgrove 的師生比例是一比八,比一般的寄宿學校低。此外,綜合我曾到訪的學校,此校硬件設施之完善,可入選全英設備最佳的三大校園。校方不惜工本為學生提供舒適環境,甚至收購附近的酒店改建成宿舍,令宿生有名符其實的「五星級享受」。此校極具前瞻性,是國際化的英國宿校。
Brighton College 是英國首屈一指的私校,是香港家長最愛的寄宿學校之一。 看一間學校,除了教育宗旨、多元化活動、成績之外,更要看校長的魄力。十年前,校長 Mr. Richard Cairns 成為 Brighton College 校長後,把學校由全英國接近 150 名推至首 20 名。除了在教育方針上大力推動改革之外,也為了保持學生的求知慾而非常努力,是難得的好校長。
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