Career Forum Apr 2016 highlights: Companies in the Shadow a CEO Programme offer diverse opportunities for Hong Kong graduates |
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Career Forum Apr 2016 highlights: Companies in the Shadow a CEO Programme offer diverse opportunities for Hong Kong graduates

Published on Saturday, 23 Apr 2016
The Shadow a CEO Programme offers a great opportunity for young jobseekers to see what life is like at the top of the business world.

Of the more than 30 companies in attendance at the Career Forum, four in particular had a little extra on offer. As participants in the Classified Post Shadow a CEO Programme, they offered selected candidates a chance to “shadow” their respective business leaders later this year.

Representatives from the four companies – Thales, Johnson Controls, DFS Group and Kering Asia Pacific – were at the forum to talk about their corporate culture and recruitment plans in on-stage presentations to their audience.

An established presence in Asia, Kering Group’s Asia-Pacific office in Hong Kong overviews the activities of its brands in Asia and Japan. These markets account for more than a third of the group’s total revenue, said Alessandro Paparelli, vice-president of HR at Kering Asia Pacific, in his presentation.

“We aim to be leaders not only in quality products, but also through our talents and our commitments to sustainability and empowering women,” he said. We are also expanding into new markets, such as Vietnam and Australia,” he said.

Paparelli introduced the Kering leadership model as a set of values and principles that guide its staff. “We believe everyone can be a leader. Our people should create with a vision. But while they are creating, they need to deliver results. We focus on achievements,” he said.

He added that being fast is an essential quality to succeed in the luxury industry. “Like the fashion sector, we need to adapt to its cycles. We expect our people to embrace our leadership model. Engagement is very important because we work closely with many other teams,” he said.

“[Job applicants] should not be just fascinated with the luxury industry only. Those looking for jobs such as in finance or HR, for example, should firstly have passion, knowledge and skills in these specialised areas.”

The DFS Group, whose global corporate HQ is in Hong Kong, has a 500-strong workforce in its office in the city that focuses on marketing, merchandising and financing, explained Mark Sullivan, vice-president for global talent management.

“DFS is a specialist in luxury product retailing at airports and in our downtown T Gallerias,” Sullivan said, adding that the global group represents over 700 brands and operates in over 420 locations including affiliates and resorts.

“We are expanding. An 80,000-square-foot store has just opened in Siem Reap in Cambodia. We will unveil significantly expanded operations at City of Dreams in Macau in June and a T Galleria will begin operation in Venice, Italy in October,” he noted.

With the group’s success hinging on its strong relationships with landlords, vendors, airports and customers – among others – it looks for talent with excellent communication and people skills, and aims to take them further. “Our core values are: we are curious, embrace change, value each other, collaborate, and demonstrate humanity,” he noted.

“We are committed to talent development. We operate the accredited DFS University and offer classroom, online and mobile learning platforms,” Sullivan said.

To educate new hires on leadership, DFS offers a management trainee programme that spans operations in all divisions. “We also have a skill-based talent development programme and courses focused on in-store selling skills,” Sullivan added.

A multitude of learning opportunities is also on offer for employees at industrial group Thales. Anthony Law, a systems engineer, gave the audience a glimpse at life working in the company’s global electronic systems business. He explained that since joining the company’s security business three and a half years ago, he has taken full advantage of the educational support provided by the company.

Coming from a systems engineering background, Law set his sights on security jobs when at school. For him, working at Thales not only boosted his technical knowledge in security, but also helped widen his horizons thanks to its culturally diverse working environment.

“We have around 300 people in the Hong Kong office, coming from 15 countries,” he told the forum. “We also collaborate with colleagues from other parts of the world in our daily operation. It is an eye-opening experience to work with colleagues from such diverse backgrounds.”

Law recalled a time when he was three months into the job, and a client called him for help regarding a complicated system problem. The client’s enquiry was quickly shared among engineers in other branches around the world.

“In the end, the problem was quickly solved by an engineer in Britain who had faced a similar problem. The company gave me great confidence that I am well-supported.”

Law said Thales is committed to giving staff exposure to different parts of the business, and also sponsors conferences that help them expand their professional knowledge and network. It also offers an opportunity for employees to work in offices in different parts of the world. “Working a Thales offers so much more than gaining professional skills. “The cultural diversity challenges me to think bigger and think global,” he said

Wilson Or, HR manager at Johnson Controls Hong Kong, told the forum that the company has two learning and development centres in Asia – Wuxi and Thailand – where employees from different regions get together to exchange ideas.

“We pitch the importance of continuous learning. Besides internal training, we also offer training sponsorship for employees to study courses related to their field of work,” he said.

The company offers an engineer trainee programme for fresh graduates, allowing them to rotate between different sales and operations departments. To help young talent reach their potential, Each trainee is assigned a mentor who assists them in their personal and career development.

Or also pointed out the importance of recognising staff achievements and ensuring employees feel valued. “We have a merit award system to show our appreciation for staff. “We do not only reward them when ground-breaking improvements are made; for any small improvement, we hand out little rewards,” he said.

Johnson also invests in great deal in CSR. Its staff participates in various community activities, and its award-winning green office demonstrates their care for the environment.

The company also offers several perks which are popular among young employees, Or said. The office is equipped with dart boards, foosball tables and pool tables, and staff get a day off on their birthdays.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Making cultural connections.

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