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News > Alumni Spotlight > Taking creative paths

Taking creative paths

RCHK alumna, Shirley Lu '10, looks back on her time at RCHK which shaped her worldview.
2 Aug 2022
Written by Marta Drzewakowska
Hong Kong SAR
Alumni Spotlight
Shirley Lu, RCHK (Class of 2010)
Shirley Lu, RCHK (Class of 2010)

Reflecting on where I am today, I always appreciate the education environment at RCHK that promotes critical thinking and encourages students to take creative paths. I still remember the TOK lesson where we question our perceptions, that what we see may be distorted in certain scenarios. We learn by actively searching for knowledge, such as by gathering facts to write reports on why Malthus’ theory did not apply to the growth in Mauritius in our humanities class. 

Being a relatively new school at the time, we were also encouraged to create. We formed a Chinese Debate Team and participated in ESF competitions, where in the subsequent year we switched roles to become the competition coordinators. We established the foundation for the first student union, and designed a platform to gather students' voices. We organised a Fu Mission trip to teach in a farmer’s children’s school in Fujian, China, and raised money to donate a library to the school. 

I believe these experiences shaped my worldview and who I am today. After college and working briefly at a big four accounting firm, I returned to a university to pursue research. Research involves gathering information and analysing data, except different from the humanities assignment, the answers are unknown yet. In the first year of my PhD studies, I began exploring corporate sustainability reports, which contain colourful designs, personal stories and company statistics that go up to 200 pages. Many questions emerged: Why are firms spending resources to create these lengthy reports? Who reads these reports? Are they truly reflecting corporate social responsibility? Can we exploit the richness of these reports to compare across firms? 

I spent most of my PhD days exploring these questions. In a recent report with the Rustandy Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Corporate Social Responsibility Metrics in S&P 500 Firms' 2017 Sustainability Reports, we share our findings on the most commonly-disclosed metrics in these sustainability reports for the fiscal year 2017. In the environmental dimension, 182 S&P 500 firms disclose greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that align with the GHG Protocol, and there is more disclosure in industries with higher GHG emissions. More questions emerge: should all firms be required to disclose these metrics? How should ratings be created based on selective disclosure? 

In July 2022, I joined Harvard Business School as an assistant professor to continue studying these questions. I hope to continue applying the critical thinking hats and creating paths in these unchartered waters.

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