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Best talent on tap

Published on Friday, 22 Nov 2013
Kerry Rooks, Prudential’s chief HR officer, says they are always on the lookout for stellar job applicants.
Photo: Jonathan Wong

Life insurance and financial services company Prudential is constantly eyeing top recruits and offers them generous training and incentive programmes to beef up its talent pipeline

With over 1,000 employees, life insurance and financial services company Prudential is continually looking for people – not in a fire-fighting fashion, with short-term solutions – but with forward planning, ensuring the best people are hired.

“We are constantly looking for talent and continuously seek to build relationships with the best people in the market. We don’t just wait for openings to activate recruitment, we understand that we need a constant pipeline of the best talent to continue our success today and over the longer term,” says Kerry Rooks, chief human resources officer at Prudential.

The company – founded in London in 1848 and present in Hong Kong since 1964 – seeks independent self-starters and values those with strong initiative, keen to find solutions to complex situations. At the same time, the ability to listen and understand is highly praised, as Prudential regards those qualities as essential in financial services. According to the company credo, they are the basis of Prudential’s service culture: “Always listening. Always understanding.”

The ability to work well with people and collaborate across teams is also vital. This is evident from the company’s corporate values: “Care, collaborate, innovate and deliver.”
“We bear these four elements in mind to help us set priorities, make decisions, deliver performance results, conduct ourselves appropriately and in interaction with others,” says Rooks, adding that new hires have to understand and practise the company’s service culture.

While a high level of English proficiency is required, Cantonese is an advantage but not necessarily required in every position.

The leading multinational life insurance services group has more than 23 million insurance customers worldwide, and offices across Asia, the UK and the US. It offers both local and global opportunities, depending on individual’s career ambitions.

Good career development and training opportunities start with a comprehensive orientation programme that welcomes new hires via a dedicated website, even before their first day at work. On joining, they attend a new-hire orientation, as well as a department-specific induction programme that includes mentoring, and technical and online training.

“We have a very strong learning and development curriculum for all employees. In any given week, some will be taking part in programmes that will support their career growth in all aspects,” Rooks says.

The programmes help update and strengthen technical capabilities, improve competencies such as presentation, negotiation and influencing skills, and management of change.
The “Engage@Pru” is an 18-month management training scheme offered for first-time managers. There is a range of leadership development programmes depending on individual needs, including executive coaching, 360-degree feedback and simulations.

“We also support ongoing professional examinations and subsidise relevant professional memberships. We value the minds of our young leaders, and are committed to nurturing talent in the early years,” Rooks says. “Therefore, we offer graduate programmes across the organisation. These include a professional underwriting development programme (PROUD), a customer service development programme, and our highly regarded actuarial internships,” Rooks says.

She adds that the company has a track record of “success and growth over the years”, and it ensures that employees share in the success of the organisation.

“In 2012, we achieved record-breaking results. In addition to financial bonuses, we celebrated by giving all employees a special reward – the latest iPad mini and an iPhone 5,” she says.

Competitive and performance-driven reward programmes are supported by health and dental insurance through the PruFlexi Benefits programme that also allows employees other options extending to lifestyle choices, and even extra leave.

Staff have “Away Days” team activities that differ in every department and every year. They may include cooking afternoons, paintball, Mission Impossible or Amazing Race-themed days – but staff have to make time for some serious work as well, Rooks adds.

“Teams also take time to discuss their strategies and annual plans, ensuring that all team members at all levels understand the priorities and required deliverables for the next 12 months and beyond,” she says.

Within the framework of a comprehensive employee engagement programme, the company offers flexi-time policies and encourages staff to leave the office on time. Offices officially close early one Friday a month.

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