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Blueprint for an exceptional career

Published on Thursday, 28 Jun 2012
Kenneth Lui and Remo Riva, directors of P&T Group, which designed many Asian landmarks, are seeking staff with flair and perseverance.
Photo: P&T Group

A multinational company with 1,800 employees worldwide, the P&T Group is a home-grown architectural engineering practice that is the oldest and largest in its category in Southeast Asia – and the eighth-largest in the world.

The private company was set up 144 years ago and – with several partners joining in subsequent years – has been known as Palmer and Turner Hong Kong since 1890. It has built many of Asia’s landmarks of the past century-and-a-half, including the Peace Hotel in Shanghai and the old Bank of China building in Central.

With 18 offices around the region and the Middle East, the company offers a full range of architectural, structural and mechanical engineering, planning and project management services, and frequently recruits for a wide range of positions requiring different degrees of experience.

“We recruit both architects and engineers. We hire design architects, project administrators – the whole range, from draft architects to project managers. Similarly, we hire the whole range of engineers, from fresh graduates up to engineers with around 10 years of experience,” says director Remo Riva, who has been with the P&T Group for 35 years and is largely responsible for the group’s design direction.

He also points out that covering all three disciplines of architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering in-house is quite exceptional in the business, and that P&T therefore offers an excellent learning and development opportunity for fresh graduates.

About half of the company’s business comes from mainland China, and during the past three years, the workload there has been increasing.

Kenneth Lui, also a director of the group based in the 800-staff head office in Hong Kong, says there is a shortage of professionals, and that the company has to recruit from overseas, especially Canada and Australia. It is even more difficult to find people who are fluent in English, can speak Putonghua at a professional level, and write and handle all related materials in Chinese.

“It is also very difficult to find people in Hong Kong who are willing to be stationed in China. Foreigners are more interested in that but they don’t speak the language,” Lui says.

Although Riva was concerned at the beginning of the year about the economy and new property developments, he is now optimistic about the coming few years and believes there will be many opportunities both in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

Lui says: “The central government [in Beijing] has managed to control the market. We have obtained some new projects in the past three months, there is no major slowdown and we expect to be very busy both in Hong Kong and China. In Hong Kong, [Chief Executive-designate] CY Leung spoke about adding housing projects and building infrastructure. Then, they are rebuilding two major hospitals, planning other hospitals and new schools.”

Lead architects and interior, graphic and fountain designers, as well as landscape architects, are all required. Experience in high-rise buildings, high-quality Grade-A office buildings, five-star hotels, luxury apartments, and quality projects in the health sector is highly valued.

Riva says candidates should be “positive, passionate, forward-looking, active and have drive”.

Lui would like to see applicants who possess patience, perseverance, and good communication skills – a quality which is especially important for lead architects, who have to co-ordinate with consultants.

The company – whose mission is excellence – welcomes applicants who have five to six years of experience, and who have also been exposed to similar values in a leading architectural firm.

P&T offers in-house continuing professional development programmes and invites outside consultants to deliver seminars on the latest technology, materials, and the preparation of contracts. Staff are also taken on site visits.

For a much-needed break, employees enjoy sports competitions and picnics organised by the social committee.

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