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Career Forum: The art and science of HR

Published on Friday, 06 Mar 2015
Virginia Choi

HKIHRM executive council member Virginia Choi says profession demands multiskilled talent

Con Constandis
Managing Director Pernod Ricard Asia Travel Retail

The area of human resources management offers one of the most multifaceted careers in the market today. To succeed in this profession, prospective candidates will need a combination of people-focused personal attributes and skill sets that range from communication skills to an understanding of employment-related legal issues.

Virginia Choi, executive council member of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM), will introduce the HR profession in her topical seminar, “Developing a Professional Career in Human Resource Management”, on Saturday at the Career Forum. She will talk about the traits and abilities HR professionals need, and will also introduce the institute’s HR Professional Standards Model.

HKIHRM organises a series of activities, including international high-level conferences, an award programme, training courses and a mentorship programme. Choi says her talk will provide very useful information for students who may consider joining the profession.

She adds that the HR profession has a positive outlook and has been evolving over recent decades in a way that promises more challenging and high-profile career paths for professionals.

“Apart from administrative duties, HR has taken up more strategic planning initiatives in areas like talent attraction, development and retention,” she explains. “More and more senior HR professionals are joining the board of directors to be business partners of the management.”

Professionals on a typical career path start as an HR assistant focusing mainly on technical skills. They progress to HR officer, where conceptual knowledge and coordination are also required, and then to HR manager, where strategic development and integration skills are needed. They can then move up to head of HR, a leadership role that helps drive the business and set the company vision.

A career in HR management requires a broad range of attributes, including honesty, integrity, flexibility and open-mindedness. It also requires a commitment to continuous self-improvement, a people-oriented mindset and an agreeable personality that makes employees feel comfortable. The ability to handle interpersonal matters through negotiation and conflict resolution is also important.

Candidates need to demonstrate good communication and interpersonal skills, analytical and organisational skills, knowledge of employment law and HR policies, and high language proficiency.

HR managers also need to “demonstrate the highest level of business ethics and consistently adhere to the key values and principles of the organisation”.

Choi says people management is both an art and a science, with a hefty dose of unpredictability contributed by the human factor. This provides opportunities for creatively resolving complex situations and contributing to business health in a practical and satisfying way.

“The most attractive feature of the industry is how to effectively and tactfully apply what has been learnt, and tailor the best HR practices to different scenarios. When a suitable solution is worked out, [the] organisation will benefit through an engaged and highly effective workforce, which can contribute to more satisfactory corporate results.

“This is both the challenge and the beauty of the HR profession.”

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