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Going beyond the 'street level'

Published on Friday, 25 Jan 2013
Elsie Hui values having a wider perspective.
Photo: Berton Chang

Property agents reliant on local mid-market transactions for the bulk of their income know that, with government cooling measures starting to bite, the next few months will be comparatively tough.

In contrast, the mood among companies focusing on higher-end deals – and with a broader spectrum of international clients and interests – remains decidedly upbeat.

“We provide a wide range of real estate services, a lot of which are still booming, so our hiring plans will proceed as planned,” says Elsie Hui, human resources director for North Asia at Jones Lang LaSalle. “In fact, during the Christmas break, we conducted an office reorganisation to set up more work stations for future recruits.”

Without specifying exact numbers, Hui predicts steady demand for new hires to support growth in several areas, such as facilities management, property management – both of which are relatively labour intensive – and agency sales.

The firm has built a reputation for working with mainland and overseas investors keen to explore the luxury end of the Hong Kong market. It has also used its international network to help locally based buyers conclude transactions in other parts of the world.

Such work requires a skill set that is a notch above the standard “street level” approach to sales tactics and negotiation often seen in the local real estate sector.

“Education-wise, most of our staff are degree holders,” Hui says. “We look for people with a wider perspective, who will be able to facilitate cross-border transactions and give value-added advice and solutions to wealthy clients.”

Graduate trainees joining the firm’s 4,800-strong Hong Kong workforce could have studied surveying or other more general disciplines. They can expect in-depth instruction in all key aspects of the real estate business, plus the chance to pick up on-the-job experience alongside some of the industry’s leading professionals.

“Trainees work under the guidance of a mentor, who coaches them all the way on how to deliver quality advice and effective solutions for owners, occupiers and investors on a global basis. We provide a platform for trainees to understand our organisational structure, culture and values,” she says.

“[The firm] is known for its professionalism and recognised as a training ground for real estate services. In a way, that success can hurt us because it is quite common to lose talent to clients in other sectors.”

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