Go Back

School Ties

In Focus
NAME:Ron Roukema & Raman Paravaikkarasu
COMPANY:Hong Kong International School
POSITION:Interim Head of School / Director of Facilities Management
As Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s global city returns, Hong Kong International School is prepared to provide a pathway of education for foreign students, says Interim Head of School Ron Roukema.

After a tumultuous few years, life in Hong Kong is attempting a return to normalcy. For the city’s institutions, this means a firm focus on getting back to business as usual.

Hong Kong International School (HKIS), which provides an American-style education to the city’s foreign students, is one of those, and according to Interim Head of School, Ron Roukema, its role is more important than ever.

“It’s important to understand that Hong Kong is back, and that there are lots of opportunities here,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “Schools like ours are here to support not just our current students, but the communities of students that will come as international families transition in and out of Hong Kong.”

Since 1966, HKIS has done just that. With around 3,000 students representing more than 45 nationalities, spread across two campuses on Hong Kong Island, HKIS is a significant fixture in the city’s education ecosystem.

“It’s important to understand that Hong Kong is back, and that there are lots of opportunities here.”

– Ron Roukema

Today, the school remains as healthy as ever thanks to the steadfast support of the HKIS community.

“We’re always looking at how, financially, we’re not just here for the next five years. We want to remain solvent for the next 50, and be able to offer great packages for our teachers, great opportunities for our students and a great community for our families,” says Roukema.

And binding that community is the HKIS mission: a dedication of minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion and lives to service and global understanding.

“When I look at the school’s mission, it’s a guiding post for almost everything we do,” Roukema says. “It’s a framework during conversations about the curriculum, building projects and finance; it’s a point of reference of our core values.”

Along with the Christian faith, the HKIS mission is an embodiment of the unity inherent in the school since its inception, unity that’s kept HKIS going through some turbulent times.

Turbulent Times

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, HKIS was faced with a potentially devastating situation, but the school’s Director of Facilities Management, Raman Paravaikkarasu, credits quick action and effective communication with averting ruin.

“We had very strong protocols established during that period,” says Paravaikkarasu, who joined HKIS in mid-2021.

“The priority was to ensure we were all safe and healthy. I’m proud to say that we were certified by Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency, the government body for hygienic measures and practices, which provided a great level of confidence to the school community.”

The easing of COVID-19 means Paravaikkarasu has been able to refocus on his major roles, including administering the master facility plan as well as campus management, operations and maintenance.

Kwoon Chung Bus
“Kwoon Chung has worked closely with Hong Kong International School for over 50 years and always provides us with enormous support. Our treasured working relationship enables us to provide students with exceptional service.” – Matthew Wong, Chairman, Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings


“The key aim for me is to ensure design, development and execution of projects around the school are done on time and within budget, and that they meet the school’s requirements and longevity goals,” Paravaikkarasu says.

“We have to ensure that student campuses have no challenges or concerns, and are risk-free.”

Helping him achieve this is a large team and a network of service contractors and external vendors, such as Kwoon Chung Bus and its school bus service.

“We have a very good professional relationship with the majority of major vendors in the market both in Hong Kong and at their head office level,” Paravaikkarasu says. “When Super Typhoon Saola hit in 2023, we were able to weather the storm with the support of these external vendors.”

Purposeful Growth

Another partner is veteran Hong Kong firm Nelson Chen Architects, which earned a World Design Awards trophy in 2022 for its work on HKIS’s lower primary school redevelopment.

“We have a constant facilities improvement program in place,” Paravaikkarasu says. “It’s not just about building; it’s about purpose. We build to suit our programs and learning needs.”

Roukema says HKIS’s growth revolves around a sound plan for the development of facilities. “Following on from the redevelopment of our Repulse Bay campus a few years ago, we’re now working on our Tai Tam campus,” he says.

“This October we’ll open our brand new HK$1 billion [US$128 million] sports center that includes two gymnasiums, a swimming pool, golf simulators, tennis courts and weight facilities.”

The space created by these additions will play host to an extension of HKIS’s performing arts and music faculties. “Our plan is to create a new performing arts wing and center as well as a thousand-seat auditorium on campus by 2027,” Roukema says.

“It’s so important as you develop and grow to involve the community and make sure they understand the why behind what we’re doing.”

– Ron Roukema

As carefully planned as they are ambitious, Roukema says these plans are integral for the growth of not just the school itself, but the community behind it.

“It’s so important as you develop and grow to involve the community and make sure they understand the why behind what we’re doing,” he says.

“This continues to be a challenge for many schools our size, so we’re constantly evaluating how we involve people in the communications before decisions are made.”

Communication, Roukema says, has to come first.

Diversity and Sustainability

The expansion of diversity within HKIS’s student body is another key consideration, particularly as Hong Kong bounces back, according to Roukema. “We’re delighted to see that Hong Kong is returning as Asia’s international city. I think that’s helping us develop our programming,” he says.

“As we roll into our next strategic plan, we’re thinking about how we can provide programs that expand beyond mild to moderate neurodiversities within students. We’re looking at how we might be able to incorporate students with more diverse learning needs, and what that can look like.”

“Nelson Chen Architects has collaborated with Hong Kong International School (HKIS) since 2005 on multiple design projects, ranging from master planning and new buildings to renovated academic and recreational facilities to create state-of-the-art educational environments for HKIS students.” – Nelson Chen, Principal Architect, Nelson Chen Architects


Doing so would not only enhance the schooling experience of those students, he adds, but would greatly enrich the community.

“We want to make sure we remain relevant not just to the local population in Hong Kong, but be a place where businesses can feel safe with the schools they’re putting their children in.”

And of late, people also want to know that sustainability is a key factor in the businesses they patronize, including schools. “That’s one of my babies,” Paravaikkarasu says.

“We’ve implemented a number of sustainability initiatives around the school, including solar panels, LED lighting and a building management system that controls air conditioning and lights. We’re definitely looking at sustainability in a holistic way. It’s part of a bigger picture.”

HKIS has undertaken a significant endeavor by embarking on its decarbonization journey, with the goal of achieving science based targets aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and attaining net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

“We’re embarking on that journey, and we’re involving the student body,” he says. “They have very creative ideas about green initiatives and sustainability goals. It’s an exciting direction to be moving in.”

“We want to make sure we remain relevant not just to the local population in Hong Kong, but be a place where businesses can feel safe with the schools they’re putting their children in.”

– Raman Paravaikkarasu

For Roukema, the journey is just as important as the destination.

“One of our core values, not only for students but for our faculty, is to make sure people are invited into the process of how we’re operating,” he says. “Not everybody will be at the table for every decision, but making sure there’s representation or at least communication around the decisions and processes moving forward is crucial.”

While he admits there’s room for improvement, Roukema says the outcome is vital for the ongoing success of HKIS.

“It’s pivotal for schools to involve all stakeholders, whether that’s students, teachers or parents, in that process so that we’re making the best decisions not for what we were, but what we hope to be.”

Back to top