Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Inchcape mentees accelerate their careers
Three students got to sample life in the fast lane with Patrick Lee, CEO of Inchcape Motor Services in North Asia and China, as part of their Shadow a CEO Programme experience.
“The atmosphere within the corporation and its values were impressive, and its culture was easy to identify,” said Jason Lee Cheuk-hang, a second year undergraduate student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School. “This is probably because of the management team, which put a lot of effort into meetings and brainstorming sessions with staff.”
Heike Chau Hei-kiu, a final year law student at the University of Hong Kong, singled out the time she spent talking with the Inchcape CEO as a personal highlight.
“I particularly enjoyed the conversations with Patrick,” Chau said. “He was very busy, but was very welcoming and eager to talk to us whenever he was free and he gave us some very useful tips.”
Phoebe Chiu, currently in the final year of a management degree at Polytechnic University, admitted to knowing little about the auto industry before the programme, but found it to be an enthralling experience nonetheless.
“If I had to pick out a particular highlight it would be the opportunity to take part in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ meeting with Mr Lee and his middle-management sales team,” she said.
This monthly session is named after the fictional detective famed for his powers of observation. It provides the CEO and his sales managers with a chance to evaluate the performance of their sales teams through role-playing exercises. These are recorded and reviewed to analyse verbal exchanges and patterns of behaviour.
“It is essential for managers of a sales department in a service industry to closely observe both their customers and their own sales staff,” Patrick explained. “You are like a coach standing on the sidelines of a football field watching how your players play against the other guys, so you can then coach them and change strategy, and so on and so forth.”
The three shadows also got to sit in on Inchcape’s “Turbo Programme” presentations, given by junior staff members who are looking to accelerate their careers.
“They come up with all sorts of ideas to help us improve the business,” Patrick explained. “What is most important is that the senior management team is sitting in the room, listening to the junior people’s presentations.”
The CEO said he was impressed by his shadows in that they were willing to learn and asked great questions that showed their curiosity. He added that he believes the key to success, as the famous maxim has it, is to “stay foolish and stay hungry”. “I saw these qualities in all three of them,” he said.
Patrick was keen to help his shadows see the merit in recognising the importance of each staff member in a business, instead of viewing them as just cogs in a machine.
However, what Chau picked up was a more fundamental pearl of wisdom offered by the CEO. “My favourite piece of advice was that we should be nice to everyone because we never know when we’ll be in a position to need their help,” she said.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Inchcape shadows accelerate their careers.