As the only Chinese student in his school, Dunn had few playmates and therefore focused more on academic work. He also found the teaching methods in the U.S. suited him more, giving him more motivation to study. “Teachers in Hong Kong usually aim to find students’ mistakes. Yet, in the U.S., they tend to tell you what you did correct and this is more encouraging,” says Dunn.
After a year of hard work, Dunn entered Boston University and later completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He then worked as an accountant in his father’s company in Canada after graduation. But he failed to find the same pleasure and interest in accounting that he had at university.
So, he decided to come back to Hong Kong and try something new – broadcasting and entertainment. Dunn never set out to be a TV presenter. His first wish was to be a singer because he had long been passionate about band music. However, after one casting experience, he changed his mind. “Being a professional singer in Hong Kong is no fun. It is too commercial and the genre may not suit you,” he sighs. “And then there is a group of assistants following you around… Is that what I really want?”
Instead, Dunn became a disc jockey at Commercial Radio Hong Kong in 1988, and later a contracted artist at Television Broadcast Limited (TVB) in 1991. He says that when he joined TVB, the competition among artists was not so intense. He was blessed with good timing as not long after he arrived, a few senior TV presenters retired. A year later, he was already the host of big live fundraising shows such as Tung Wah Charity Show and variety shows like Enjoy Yourself Tonight.
The biggest reward of being a TV host is that Dunn gets to meet lots of people and establish a broad network of contacts. He has met many prominent people in his job. For instance, he once shook hands with the then Premier of the People’s Republic of China at the anniversary celebration of the handover, and interviewed a prince from Denmark.
Looking at Dunn’s achievements and experiences on paper, you might get the impression he is extremely ambitious and driven. Yet, he says he never set out to do anything as a means to prepare himself for other opportunities ahead. He jokes that he is a man without any targets. “When you have a target and do things deliberately, sometimes you may not get what you want,” he laughs. “Haste makes waste. Focus on what you need to do now and your opportunity will come. This is my motto as an artist. Maybe this is the reason why people called me ‘Easy Relaxing Patrick’ (輕輕鬆鬆鄧梓峰)!”
The moniker was part of an internet joke where celebrities’ names were used to make up rhyming slang, and it seems apt in describing Dunn. Although Dunn insists he has always learnt new skills out of interest and without career considerations, these “coincidental” skills have brought him further opportunities.
Dunn learnt German because of his fascination with World War II movies and this in turn led to him being hired to host events organised by German companies like BMW and Siemens. His love of aviation pushed him to learn to fly and he ended up playing a pilot in the hit TV show Triumph in the Skies. The drama series about the lives of airline staff was one of the few TV dramas that Dunn was willing to commit to making as he is usually reluctant to sacrifice his leisure time to being stuck on set for weeks and even months at a time.