Career Forum Apr 2016 highlights: Over 30 employers converge to engage young talent in Hong Kong
While the forum featured a wide range of activities from career seminars and networking sessions to CV advice services and interviews for the Shadow a CEO Programme, at its heart it is still a job fair featuring employers from leading organisations covering the gamut of Hong Kong’s professional sphere.
Over 30 such organisations ran exhibition booths at the forum, where they connected with attendees to talk about their working culture, professional scope and the job opportunities available for fresh graduates. We spoke to six of the exhibitors to hear about their experiences with the forum’s eager young jobseekers and gain their insight on career-building within their respective industries.
Representatives from Johnson Controls – a US-based multinational company with over 700 local staff members specialising in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, fire and security systems, and building management systems – were suitably impressed by the quality of attendees at the forum.
“The candidates we met definitely made an impression on us,” said Wilson Or, HR manager – building efficiency at Johnson Controls. “They were very enthusiastic and eager; some came to our booths several times to ask follow-up questions. Others gave us their full-fledged portfolio with rich information in colour. They all proved to be high-calibre and sincere candidates with superb soft skills.”
He was similarly impressed by the many types of jobseeker in attendance. “The forum attracts an audience that is much more diverse than those of campus job fairs. Here, we met with students from local and overseas universities, as well as those with a few years of experience. In future, we look forward to an even more diverse audience.”
Further to the company’s topical seminar on its engineering trainee programme, more than 50 applications were received within hours.
“The two-year programme helps candidates acquire hands-on experience through job rotation every six months,” Or said. “Our management trainee programme, on the other hand, provides business-oriented trainees with opportunities to help senior management make business decisions through research, analysis and executive assistance.”
Industrial group Thales, a first-time participant in the forum, was happy to find a number of potential new recruits for it engineering arms.
“The students were intelligent, presentable and well-prepared, asking relevant questions and showing good etiquette,” said Batson Cheng, resourcing and branding business partner, human resources, at Thales. “The young professionals, on the other hand, were able to create resonance with us about work-related issues, and they also have a good chance of being hired.”
Cheng was also impressed by the diversity of attendees. “The forum attracted a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds. There were students from engineering and business, as well as young professionals who have been working for two or three years.”
With many new projects on hand, the French group is constantly hiring and aims to strengthen its 350-member workforce in Hong Kong in software, hardware, testing and maintenance. Cheng said that the company’s chances of doing so were significantly increased thanks to one of its system engineers making a presentation to the forum about the company culture, which attracted more jobseekers to the booth.
Thales offers three-month, six-month and one-year internships, the latter of which is particularly popular among students whose college curriculum provides room for a sandwich year between classes.
“We focus more on personality than academic results,” Cheng said. “A strong passion for engineering and IT, a good personality as a team player and being a customer-oriented professional are a must.”
The 18-month management trainee programme at international luxury travel retailer DFS Group proved a big draw for forum attendees.
“The presentation by Mark Sullivan, our vice president of global talent management, attracted many curious minds,” said Irene Yip, senior manager of global talent acquisition at DFS.
“We basically look for proactive young people with potential and passion in retail with excellent language skills. The management trainee programme, which includes job rotation within our merchandising, marketing and store operations teams, provides trainees with first-hand experience. Based on his or her performance, career aspirations and the requirements of the company at the time, a trainee may be promoted to full-time managerial positions upon completion of the programme.”
The company offered a variety of other opportunities, including its graduate development programme, and provided information on “DFS University”, its own corporate learning and development programme.
“Our corporate university fosters a collaborative learning culture through our leadership development and talent development programmes, which teach soft skills, technical skills and sales techniques,” Yip said.
“In just February this year, for example, 20 employees acquired international accreditation as whisky ambassadors in Singapore. Other specialties with global accreditation are fashion and accessories, beauty and fragrances, wines and spirits, and watches and jewellery.”
Yip echoed sentiments on the variety of jobseekers in attendance. “We were excited to see that the forum attracted a diverse audience, including fresh graduates and more experienced individuals from Hong Kong and mainland China to as far as India and Britain.”
Shanghai-based Fosun International is an investment group that combines China’s momentum with global resources. Its portfolio of investments includes Portuguese insurance group Fidelidade, Israeli cosmetic brand Ahava, French vacation resort operator Club Med, British leisure travel group Thomas Cook and Canadian entertainment company Cirque du Soleil.
Joining the forum for the first time, the corporation aimed to promote its brand in Hong Kong and recruit young talent.
“As a strategic investor, we thrive on insurance and investment and strategically invest in various industries whose companies have sound management,” said Ye Aci, deputy general manager of human resources at Fosun Group. “We are looking for candidates who have an entrepreneurial spirit. They should be versatile players and quick learners, and be able to show open-mindedness, an international mindset and professionalism.”
Ye explained that the company is not looking primarily for investment bankers. “We’re also looking for young talent with sound knowledge of different industries, ranging from biochemistry to tourism and retail.”
The corporation is currently recruiting 30 finance-focused “Fo-Star Summer Interns” to work in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, London and New York, in addition to 10 interns in HR, public affairs and branding.
“At the Career Forum, we have been able to connect with a number of students who we will contact further for recruitment purposes,” Ye added. “We are not yet a household name among students in Hong Kong, and joining the forum is instrumental in our long-term plan to enhance brand awareness locally.
“We value strong believers in China’s potential, as well as young talent with global perspectives and sound knowledge of the industries in which we operate.”
An international corporation with a portfolio of brands in the luxury and sport and lifestyle markets, Kering was a first-time participant in the Career Forum and is involved in the Shadow a CEO Programme.
In fact, according to Wei-ling Lim, Kering’s regional manager of talent acquisition and talent management, several students approached Kering’s booth based on the company’s involvement in the programme to ask intriguing questions about Carlo Imò, president of Kering Asia Pacific.
One student asked what Imò did when he was 20, to get advice on starting out in his career. Others referred to Imò’s background in legal counsel and human resources, highlighting their curiosity in, and an understanding of, the corporation and its leadership.
This sort of attitude is welcomed by Kering and ties in to the company’s leadership model. “Creativity, drive, engagement with all, and building from heritage to legacy are the four competencies we look for during the recruitment process for interns, employees and job shadowing,” Lim said.
“Good attitude, leadership and presentation skills, and active participation on campus or during internships are also highly valued.”
While garments and apparel might remind people of the heyday of Hong Kong’s manufacturing industries, TAL Apparel shows that it is flourishing in the present tense.
The forward-looking corporation is busy partnering with international brands ranging from Banana Republic to Brooks Brothers, and investing in R&D to develop wrinkle-free and odour-free technologies. Its main aim in joining the forum was to enhance its employer branding.
“Due to our focus on business-to-business, it is not uncommon that students know little about us,” said Sandy Lam, corporate human capital management services specialist at TAL.
“The forum proved to be an ideal platform for us to reach out to a diverse audience, including both students and young talent with working experience. Having received a fair number of CVs, we were impressed by the quality of candidates and their genuine interest in us.”
While the corporation’s Hong Kong headquarters needs talent in finance, HR, IT, merchandising and supply chain, its international operations are offering equally exciting opportunities.
“Our brand new plant in Ethiopia is fast attracting young talent. These eager young minds have already filled the new positions at the plant and will be pioneers for the next couple of years,” Lam explained.
TAL Apparel also used the forum to promote its 24-month management trainee programme, which provides job-rotation and cross-border opportunities. In the 13th and 14th months of the programme, trainees will be stationed in a plant in a location ranging from Southeast Asia to mainland China.
“Our recruits are passionate and aggressive young talents who are willing to travel,” Lam said.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Platforms for possibility.