Career Advice Job Market Report

Career Forum Oct 2016: HR roles getting more strategic

Not only will the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) be exhibiting at the Classified Post Career Forum, but Virginia Choi, a member of the organisation’s executive council, will be speaking at the event to give attendees some expert insight into the HR profession.

Choi, who is also managing consultant and country manager with Tamty McGill Consultants International, has worked in HR for over 25 years and was the first female president of the HKIHRM.

She speaks, therefore, with a wealth of knowledge and experience when she says the days when HR managers used to be responsible only for activities such as recruitment, training and development are long gone.

“Our role has changed so that we are now strategic partners,” Choi explains. “This means that we have to really understand the company’s business and sometimes go into the field to experience the challenges the company and the industry faces. When we talk to line managers, we also have to be able to speak their business language.”

Choi believes it is not unrealistic for the most dedicated and ambitious HR professionals to now aim for a seat at the top table within organisations.

“If we take the initiative and build up our credibility with line managers and the CEO, then the chances are good that we will be put on the board and be involved with the whole process of decision making.”

Choi advises that anyone looking to climb high up the HR career ladder gain a broad range of experience. “It’s easier for HR professionals to have a fast-track career if they’ve moved around and picked up a range of experience, rather than just worked their way up the HR levels,” she explains.

“I would prefer to see more graduates not just apply to the big, multinational corporations, or the banking and finance industry. If they work, for example, with an SME, then their boss can give them a lot of exposure to areas of the business that they might otherwise not get. This will be a very good foundation.”

Those entering the HR field straight from university need to develop themselves in several areas, Choi says. “They should try to improve their ability to work under pressure, their ability to plan ahead and their communication skills - particularly face-to-face communication. Language skills are also important.”