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Connecting to culture

Management roles are up for grabs as city’s arts and heritage projects hit high gear

The development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) and the revitalisation of the city’s historic buildings into creative spaces are just some of the many projects that reflect the Hong Kong government’s dedication to turning the SAR into a prime location for art, culture and entertainment.

With the WKCD, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is closing in on establishing what it hopes will become an Asian art and cultural icon. It needs the right people to truly succeed and is currently looking to assemble a management team to pioneer the development of the city’s largest ever cultural project.

Eva Kwong, executive director of HR at the authority, thinks that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to oversee the development of such an important project. “The openings we have now are management positions that will help develop and implement working systems for various departments,” she says. “Operations posts include property development manager, performing arts manager and landscape architect. In the functional departments, we are looking for a head of audit, internal auditor, senior business analyst and senior financial analyst.”

Since the authority is a relatively new body – it was established in 2008 – Kwong says she is looking to recruit people who are able to demonstrate professionalism and creativity. “We are at the start-up stage; we don't have long-established traditions as we are a young organisation, so the managers here can make good use of their creativity rather than following an established framework. It is crucial they have creative minds that are capable of coming up with systems on their own.”

Kwong believes that besides professional knowledge, the most important quality candidates should possess is a can-do attitude. “We are at the preliminary stage of development, so one can expect it is going to be an uphill battle with many things not yet in place,” she says. “I am searching for high-energy people who are up for challenges and are strong team players. The organisation is not big – it has less than 200 people – but we have loads to work on with only limited time. I need people who are willing to co-operate with one another and not hide in their cubicles, trying to solve problems on their own.”

Applicants for management roles need to have a degree and at least six years of working experience in their respective fields.

The property development manager is responsible for the strategic planning of the site’s property and land development. “The manager will work closely with various consultant firms to ensure the infrastructure is finished according to plan,” Kwong says. “He or she must have excellent communication and time-management skills. Batch one of the project – which includes a number of iconic buildings – is expected to be completed by 2018. The successful candidate therefore needs to be able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.”

Candidates with degrees in surveying and real-estate-related disciplines, as well as professional membership with a relevant institution, will be considered.

The performing arts manager will play a critical role in setting up policies and working plans for the various performing arts venues. “We do not have any venues to manage yet, but the manager will be the key person in developing the business and operational plans for [these future] venues,” Kwong says. “It will be advantageous for candidates to have experience in the commercial or operational development of performing arts functions or venues.”

Applicants are required to have a degree in performing arts, art or cultural studies, or arts education. Less-experienced candidates can consider applying for the role of assistant manager of performing arts.

The landscape architect will be responsible for providing technical support for the landscape design of the entire district. “I believe it will be a challenging, yet rewarding, experience for a landscape architect to have the opportunity to work on such a big space,” Kwong says. “Past experience in horticulture, project management and urban design will be an advantage.”

The position requires applicants to have a degree in landscape planning or landscape architecture, possess professional membership of a relevant institution, and have at least eight years of work experience.

The head of audit is expected to have at least 15 years of experience in accounting-related work and possess membership of an appropriate professional body. The senior business analyst and senior financial analyst are required to have at least eight years of experience and be members of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants or equivalent.

“I don’t expect staff in the back office to have a talent in art, but it is important to have an interest in art,” Kwong says.

For those whose cultural interests fall more on heritage preservation, the Central Police Station Revitalisation Project – a collaboration between the government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust – may be a more appealing option. Mike Moir, director of property at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, explains some of the job opportunities that the project has created.

“We are now establishing a dedicated management team to kick-start the operation of the one of the biggest art spaces that we have in Hong Kong,” he says. “Working in a start-up operation and with a cluster of declared monuments will definitely be a challenge, but the opportunity to contribute to conserving and revitalising a part of Hong Kong’s heritage does not come often.”

The project aims to provide more medium-scale contemporary art facilities and will include the revitalisation of 16 heritage buildings by 2015. Job openings include asset manager, corporate communications manager, information and communication technology manager, technical services manager, finance manager, HR manager and facilities services officer.

Management roles require applicants to be degree holders and have more than 10 years of experience in their respective fields – with no less than three years of experience as a supervisor. The requirement for the role of facilities service officer is six years of experience in facilities management, of which three should be at supervisory level.

“We are looking for people with relevant qualifications and experience in the respective fields and who are team players interested in working with various stakeholders – including government authorities, site operators, contractors, service providers and members of the public,” Moir says. “Prior work experience in heritage, art and culture settings is a desirable attribute, but not a must. However, bearing in mind that this project is about the revitalisation of a heritage site for adaptive reuse, the candidates should have an interest in art, culture, and the history of Hong Kong.”

The team will be responsible for transforming the Central Police Station site into one of Hong Kong’s leading cultural destinations, where heritage, contemporary art and leisure facilities are creatively and innovatively integrated.

“It is an exciting project that will help connect the city’s past with its future, and contribute to enriching people’s lives through the appreciation of heritage and contemporary art,” Moir says. “When completed, what was once a cluster of law-and-order institutions closed to the public will have been transformed into a community space and open to all to enjoy.”