Productive placements key at HKPC
With its comprehensive business scope and extensive exposure to different industries and associations, the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) is one of the most useful places for a fresh graduate to start their career.
“Trainees are exposed to a wide range of technical- and business-consultancy methods. They gain a wider perspective. You rarely find an employer here which is so broad in scope,” says Dennis Wu Kwok-kwong, general manager of corporate human resources and administration at HKPC.
The council provides services to small- and medium-sized companies in the areas of process improvement, service excellence and innovation. It also contributes to commercial research and development. “We do application [research and design] in an attempt to turn new technology into viable methods for mass production,” Wu explains.
Nine vacancies are open for trainee consultants every year, but the number hired depends on the quality of applicants. Last year, only six trainees were recruited.
Graduates from a wide range of study backgrounds can apply. These include engineering, environmental management, information technology, business, economics, finance, human resources and international marketing. Wu notes, though, that intelligent manufacturing, micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), electric-vehicle charging and environmental business are growing areas.
The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree and there is no need for applicants to have any work experience. They should, though, be creative, intuitive, self-confident and able to work well on their own and in a team. They should also be able to demonstrate an ability to lead.
“Applicants should be experts in their own academic domain, be logical and innovative, have initiative and be very proactive. They should also have both high EQ [emotional quotient] and IQ,” Wu says.
Language skills are important and applicants should be able to write reports in both English and Chinese. “We have a written test for analytical and language skills. Consultants need to produce well-written proposals for clients,” Wu says.
Edwin Wong, associate consultant with the materials and manufacturing technology division, joined HKPC three years ago. “I believe team spirit and critical thinking are the two most important skills needed for doing a good consulting job,” he says.
Most projects demand teamwork among consultants from various disciplines, sometimes even requiring cross-divisional collaboration. “Through these projects, I learned to communicate with fellow consultants, project officers and clients to solve problems and turn laboratory technology into practicable applications,” Wong says.
The one-year graduate programme is split into two five-and-a-half-month placements, with the remaining month spread across various divisions.
Classroom training covers consulting, proactive leadership methods, and communication and writing skills. It also focuses on creativity and how to be more influential when putting forth ideas.
Depending on performance, in one year trainees can graduate to associate consultant. After a further three years of coaching and mentoring, they can start doing full-fledged consultancy work. In total, it is possible to become a consultant in four to five years.
Wong urges applicants to identify their personal mission and make sure it matches their possible career development. He says, “I consider having the mission to serve society to be the most important personal trait of a good consultant. This person will put all their effort into getting the job done.”