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Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching

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Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching
With more than four decades of experience in the world of business as a chief executive, investor, entrepreneur and board member, Lim Soon Hock knows his way around business.
He’s probably best known for his time as the former vice president and managing director of Compaq Computer Asia Pacific, from 1989 to 1996, where Lim Hock Soon grew the tech firm’s annual business from around $50 million to over $1.5 billion in the span of seven years.
Fresh off his coup, the spunky magnate left the relative safety of a multi-national corporation to set up his own boutique corporate advisory firm, Plan-B ICAG (International Corporate Advisory Group), which he still runs today at age 74.
All this, while juggling other commitments such as sitting on various boards, government agencies and civic organisations; serving as a Justice of the Peace, a volunteer mediator with the courts and an adjunct professor with the National University of Singapore; and authoring five books, the proceeds from which were donated to various charitable organisations.
Somehow, amid all that, the recipient of a Public Service Medal and Public Service Star managed to find time to pursue one of the most unpredictable, even meditative, hobbies out there – birdwatching, a passion most often associated with patience, tenacity and lots of time.
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Birds of a feather
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Birding with friends in Krabi
Lim Soon Hock (right most) birding with friends in Krabi, Thailand last year.
Though Lim Soon Hock was a hobbyist photographer back in his school days, his love for birdwatching and capturing said birds on the camera only took flight decades later in August 2021, when he went to a dinner party organised by a friend with two avid birdwatchers in attendance.
One week later, Lim Soon Hock ended up joining the birdwatcher, Basil Chan, at the Sungei Ulu Pandan Canal, chasing the difficult shot of getting a grey-headed fish eagle dive for fish.
It was a profound enough experience to drive the silver to get his own camera that very weekend – a Nikon P1000, a bridge camera far superior to his point-and-shoot Leica for family holidays, with a ludicrous 24-3000mm zoom range, enabling 125x optical zoom.
Flights of fancy
The thousand-dollar investment kickstarted a passion that would see Soon Hock travelling to all corners of Singapore, tripod, 5kg telephoto lens and other gear in tow on a Decathlon trolley.

"Every birding trip is different. The lighting, the background, even the bird itself, despite being the same species."

Soon Hock went all-in into the hobby. He studied birds’ characteristics, habitats and migration patterns on the Internet.
He found new friends with fellow birdwatchers young and old, all of whom were happy to lend a hand or give their own tips and tricks.
He got the hang of editing his own photos on the computer – and bought a full-frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 1 to boot.
A part of what made birdwatching so alluring for Soon Hock was its connection to nature.
While it is difficult for the silver to pin down his favourite photographs after three years and thousands of birds, he tells us about several experiences that have left a lasting impression.
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Great Slaty Woodpecker
Rare birds like the Great Slaty Woodpecker (which Soon Hock says had not been seen in Singapore in the last five years) are naturally “very exciting” captures for the silver, though it is this shot of a Kentish Plover at Marina East Park in 2022 that is his special shot, as it coincidentally matched up with another bird in flight to give the uncanny impression that it has four legs.
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Kentish plover
One of his shots of the grey-headed fish eagle at Ulu Pandan Canal (taken again after he got the Sony Alpha 1) was even shortlisted in the 2023 Sony #Take Flight with Alpha Photo Competition.
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Grey headed eagle
And then there’s this shot of hornbills in Singapore, which Soon Hock – who chaired the Centre for Fathering for almost a decade – sees as a shining example of shared parenthood and trust.

"It’s an exemplary way of illustrating how fathers should support their wives in bringing up the children in the context of shared parenting, and how husband and wife should share a strong faith in each other."

A hobby worth pursuing
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Hornbill
Soon Hock encourages seniors to give birdwatching a go, even if they aren’t familiar with terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

“But there’s no need to spend too much to begin with. You can get entry-level cameras, or something second-hand."

He advises taking the time to get familiarised with the camera before attempting any photographs more difficult than perched shots of stationary birds.

“And be extra careful when you’re chasing a bird – remember to watch your step!"

Lim Soon Hock gives a bird’s eye view on life
As fulfilling and enjoying as it is, Soon Hock considers birdwatching just a hobby.
Lim Soon Hock Shares a Bird’s Eye Perspective of Balancing Work and Birdwatching - Lim Soon Hock
Lim Soon Hock

"Don’t compare. Be satisfied. Improve with each passing day. That would already be an achievement."

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