Delivering on diversity
PCCW’s MT programme is aimed at meeting its incredibly varied demand for talent
PCCW continues to expand its reach by diversifying and redefining its core business, while developing its new generation of corporate leaders.
A conglomerate of a number of businesses in different industries, PCCW’s diverse business portfolio comprises a wide array of products and services, such as telecommunications (fixed-line and mobile), broadband internet, information and communications technology, automation systems and hi-tech solutions, lifestyle and property development, media, education, and entertainment.
Over the years, its products and services have become household names, including Netvigator, Now TV, MOOV, eye3, HKT Premier, 1010 and CSL, as well as recent additions Smart Living, eSmartHealth and HKT Education.
With a strong presence in over 40 countries and, even with 23,000 permanent staff, PCCW requires a steady supply of fresh talent as it continues its expansion and diversification.
Florence Chow, head of group human resources, says due to rapid business growth, the company opens its doors to about 200 graduates each year through its management trainee (MT) programme to keep up with the demand for talent.
“We’re very passionate about growing and developing new talent,” she says. “This is a very good opportunity for youngsters to join the company. Given the sheer size and diversity of our business, we need people to constantly grow. That’s why we have a large intake of graduates and we’re investing a lot in them, because we truly believe that talent is important. Serving our customers is important to us and if we don’t have the people, we cannot serve them well.”
She adds that, although most of the graduates accepted into the programme come from local universities, the company is increasingly seeing more graduates returning to Hong Kong from overseas universities. “We are not purposely after graduates from local or overseas universities. We believe in diversity and essentially it’s about the quality of the people. Given the diverse businesses that we have, we take in graduates from different backgrounds.
“Graduates may come from disciplines such as engineering, technology, business, sales and marketing, media/communication, so we do have a balanced bench of future leaders to nurture and grow,” Chow says.
Elaine Poon, a graduate trainee at PCCW’s Now TV, came from a slightly different educational background. She graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in social science, majoring in sociology with a minor in politics and public administration. It was her genuine love for the industry that made her decide to start a career in a new and somewhat unrelated field.
I love watching TV and I think it’s best if you can work in an industry that you love. It’s interesting to know the mechanics behind the TV product, essentially how the industry works. It is very vibrant and allows me to think more out of the box, be creative and innovative, and do jobs that are not routine,” Poon says.
Kazaf Lee, a human resources management and marketing graduate from Chinese University, pursued his love for technology and found his way into PCCW’s consumer group as an MT.
“I’m into hi-tech things because new technology makes people’s lives easier,” he says. “I really believe PCCW is a company that provides innovative technology and products to the Hong Kong people. PCCW is very much willing to invest the time and money for graduates like me, so I believe this is the right place for me to start my career.”
Chow says the company is looking for people with passion for the industry “because that drives your behaviour. It drives the way you learn and interact with people. Knowledge can come afterwards. So really, it’s the interest in the industry that would be of paramount importance.”
Any university graduate can apply for the programme, but due to the competitiveness and the fast pace of the industry, PCCW looks for a very specific set of characteristics when it accepts graduates for its trainee programme, called “HIRE”.
“‘H’ stands for ‘hungry’,” Chow explains. “We want them to be hungry to absorb the knowledge we can provide them. ‘I’ stands for ‘innovation’. We want them to be creative and think out of the box. ‘R’ stands for ‘reach out’. We want people who are sociable and flexible, who do not draw boundaries, who believe that everything is possible. And lastly, ‘E’ stands for ‘energetic’, because we want people to always have the energy to learn and acquire new knowledge.”
She adds that the selection process for the management trainee MT programme consists of a series of stages that includes several tests and interviews. The programme is very comprehensive, systematic and meticulous, and has a very low failure rate because of the care and guidance provided to the trainees.
“We want them to be leaders of the future, therefore from the very beginning, we equip them with skills that are required for their career development journey,” Chow says. “Most important of all, each one has a mentor who helps and guides them along the way.”
Lee says the selection process was demanding. “The process has four different stages. The first is the written test, then there is a group interview. The third is the panel interview and lastly, a meeting with senior management.
“The competition was quite keen and one of the most challenging parts was to stand out in the group interview among four candidates from well-known local and overseas universities.”
Graduate trainees fortunate enough to be part of the MT programme are considered a privileged group within the organisation due to the comprehensive training they receive. During the first year of the programme, they are equipped with personal-effectiveness skills such as time management, project management, business acumen, decision-making, presentation and other fundamentals. They will also go through functional job rotations within different departments to acquire technical knowledge that is relevant to the area.
“We expose them to the whole organisation, because PCCW is so diverse in terms of the range of businesses,” Chow says. “They need to know how to navigate within the company. We don’t want them to just specialise in one area, because one’s career life is now extending to 40-50 years. So if they can learn new skills and rotate within the company, their career will be very rich.”
Poon says: “Our work varies when we attach to different departments, because our role is highly dependent on the department’s needs and is determined by our supervisors. I think it’s quite interesting because our work is quite diverse and the industry is very vibrant and dynamic so we get exposed to a lot of new things.”
As PCCW continues to expand and diversify its range of services and products, Chow likens the MT programme to an international buffet table that offers graduates a wide selection of opportunities to choose from that will equip them for a successful career within the company.
“We offer the opportunity for our graduates to be exposed to different elements of the business. At the end of the day, it really depends on how hungry, quick and willing they are to absorb the knowledge and information,” Chow says.