Career Advice Working Women

ABC of learning

ABC Pathways School is looking for customer service officers, education consultants and native English teachers to join its expansion plans. Since its start in 2002, ABC has opened six schools in Hong Kong and is to roll out a seventh at Wonderful Worlds of Whampoa in Hunghom next month.

“The customer service officers will answer parent inquiries and help them understand the ABC teaching concept,” says school principal Bally Wong. “The teachers will teach a set of Cambridge University Press materials developed by ABC. In fact, we are the only English school recognised by Cambridge University Press as an ‘educational partner’.”

Unlike tuition centres, at ABC, which has more than 4,500 students aged between 18 months and 17 years, there are no drills or tips on how to complete exams. Instead, students learn through games and activities.

“The teaching philosophy of ABC is no homework, no dictation, no exams and no pressure. We want children to fall in love with English,” Wong says.

The school currently employs 200 staff, including 100 teachers. It has openings for 30 customer service officers and education consultants, and 20 teachers. “We are looking for people with customer-service experience. Former flight attendants would be a nice fit. Many of our customers are high-end, and they can be demanding, so we want people to have experience in handling tough situations. They also have to be patient and team-orientated. We welcome teachers from around the world who are native English speakers, but they are required to have a degree or above,” Wong says.

She adds that the working culture at ABC is positive and teamwork is highly valued. As a qualified neuro-linguistic-programming (NLP) trainer, Wong knows the right way to inspire staff to think positive. “It is my duty to help staff live up to their potential. We care about staff career development. We follow performance, not experience or qualifications. Quite a few of our staff who hold important positions have only two to three years’ experience,” she says.

Networking among staff is also key to a harmonious workforce. “We have teachers from around the world and we try to provide as much support as possible to help them settle in Hong Kong. We host gatherings for staff to get to know one another. Teamwork is key to our success and we need staff to be positive and committed,” Wong says.

Daniel Gingell, centre head teacher and course development manager at ABC, originally from Britain, is very impressed with the support ABC has given him in his career and life.

“The working environment is very positive and everyone is passionate about what they do here. The bond between co-workers is really strong as the company does a great job by hosting dinners and gatherings throughout the year. We look after people who work with us, especially the newcomers who sometimes have concerns about living in a new city. Whatever questions they have, our colleagues are always willing to help them.”

Before working as a teacher, Gingell was an engineer. He was travelling in the mainland and really liked Hong Kong, so he went back to Britain to obtain his TEFL and relocated to the SAR to work as a teacher. “ABC is my first teaching job and I think their interactive teaching style is perfect for me. I never enjoyed sitting down to listen to a teacher just talk at me. At ABC we get the students involved in games and projects to get them interested in learning English, and using it as much as possible throughout the lesson,” he says.

“We do not need newcomers to start teaching right away, as the first two to three weeks will be for them to sit in during lessons and training sessions to learn the ABC teaching style and classroom-management techniques. We have students from a wide age range so teachers have to learn how to handle students from different age groups. I advise people interested in teaching at ABC to come with an open mind, because the school’s teaching style is unique, but you can expect full support from colleagues,” he says.

In his two years at ABC, Gingell has risen to the role of course developer. “The company has been really supportive to me and I am here for the long term. I have moved up to course development and I will take more responsibility looking after the operation of the branch and creating new programmes for the school,” he says.