OBV Profile: George Lee

George Lee was a policeman in the 80s and 90s - a Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. Until a week ago he was a senior partner at Mercer Oliver Wyman, managing their telecom, media and technology division. Encouraged to join the party by Lord Strathclyde and Hon Nicholas Soames MP he has now given up his corporate career to concentrate on his campaign to become Britain's first Chinese MP.

The changing cultural makeup of the Conservatives is what Lees says attracted him to the party. 'It has moved on, in a way that is more open to all minorities and classes. The Conservative Party that David Cameron calls compassionate conservatism is something I believe in strongly,' he explains. Lee points out that the reason he is standing is in part to show that Chinese communities are committed British citizens 'who want to make a valuable contribution to this great country of ours.'

Getting to know an ethnically diverse Holborn & St. Pancras community, coming into contact with some of its more deprived constituents and young people Lee says also played a major part in his decision to stand. It confirmed his determination to do what he could to bring practical, positive change to the area. And he is confident that with his life experiences and that of managing complex organisations, he has the skills to do it.

George Lee is no traditional Tory. He was born in a poor village in rural Hong Kong in the 1960s, and when his parents moved abroad to seek employment in the UK, George was left there with his siblings. At five, unknown to his parents, the lady trusted with their care sent them all to work in a toy factory rather than to school. Five years later they finally made it to the UK, where by this time, his parents had set up a takeaway in Portsmouth.

It might not have been child labour in a toy factory but it was a tough time for George. Revealingly, the only English word he could say when he arrived to join his parents was 'tomorrow'.

He helped his parents in the takeaway after school, but George was adamant that he did not want to grow up and run the shop with them, nor follow the youngsters in his school into manual labour on the dockside.

'What I really wanted was to show that as Chinese we need not be confined by a certain set of stereotypes: quiet, studious types, who don't speak out on issues. I recognised I needed to do something to show it.'

At 17, he was an MoD industrial relations officer at Portsmouth Dockyard. But he knew if he was going to make a real difference he had to join an organisation that could allow him to make an impact: the Metropolitan Police.

He spent 17 years in the police service, starting on the beat; he was selected for the fast track and won a police scholarship to Cambridge University to study Chinese and Social Political Sciences; ultimately rising to Chief Inspector. He was one of the founding members of the Black Police Association and played a major role in suppressing the Triads.

Even though Lee was on route to probably becoming the first Chinese Chief Constable, he left the force when he believed that he had achieved everything that the organisation could help him do, and was proud to have raised the profiles of Chinese in the UK and broken the glass ceiling for other Chinese in the public sector to follow.

Looking to be challenged in a different way, he left his successful police career to test himself in the business world. He took a job as management consultant for Gemini Consulting responsible for driving change in complex companies like Prudential and Tesco. He launched the first mobile multi-media services as programme director for Vodafone, and Executive Vice President International Marketing for T-Mobile. In his extensive span of work has travelled widely and worked on every continent.

As MP, Lee believes he would bring his energy and experience of complex businesses and management to bear in shaping well thought out legislation at Westminster. At a local level in Holborn and St Pancras he would like to get to grips with the blight of gangs, develop a student mentoring programme for youngsters, and help the unemployed back into work.

His dynamism is obvious. 'I am all about the promise of Britain, about helping people realise that promise for themselves, and helping them to be their own success story.' He concluded.

Visit George at http://www.mygeorgelee.com/