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Contest offers competitors valuable job experience

For Harry Yung Ho-shu, winning was not the best part of the ACCA Job Hunting Competition 2012. Rather, it was the opportunity to engage in serious business discussions with other students, especially from the mainland.

“I realised that there are some differences in the approach used by students from the mainland and those from Hong Kong. For example, [mainland students] have a solid background in technical skills. They tend to apply different theoretical models to solve management issues, while [Hong Kong students] would take a more direct approach. We identify the issues and think how we can solve them,” said Yung.

For Yung, the job-shadowing programme in Shanghai was one of the competition’s most rewarding experiences. “I was assigned to job shadow two audit partners from Deloitte in Shanghai, both expats from Hong Kong. I got a chance to talk to industry leaders about their working life in Shanghai and why they relocated in the first place. It was a very good experience because I learned about what I need to equip myself for my future career,” he said.

The competition has certainly helped Yung overcome his fear of public speaking. “I’m not afraid to speak in front of a crowd anymore,” said Yung. “I have also become better at handling time pressure.”

Yung is already raring to apply what he has learned. “I will start to hunt for a job in September. Maybe I will join an accounting firm in the beginning,” he said.

Meanwhile, first runner-up Herman Mok Chi-kit felt energised by the collaboration with his mainland counterparts. “It has been interesting to interact with mainland students. They tend to focus more on the financial part, while we in Hong Kong tend to focus on marketing, management and things like that. Their approach was a bit different.”

Mok acknowledged that he learned a lot from his mainland peers. “They’ve done a lot of preparation before coming here. That’s one thing I should learn from them. They shared cases among themselves. I should also read more. I should do more academic discussions with my friends,” he said.

Mok discussed how the length and complexity of the case question and limited time during the grand final gave him a taste of the real world. “The schedule was very rushed, the case was 10 pages long, and we had to digest so much data and information, provide an analysis and prepare a PowerPoint presentation. This competition taught me to do things quickly, to work faster.”

Meanwhile, though still in her sophomore year, second runner-up Heather Huang feels more secure in her future career hunt after becoming familiar with the recruitment process. She also developed a finer appreciation of team work and the importance of presentation and social skills. She also enjoyed the group interviews because of the interviewers’ instant feedback and useful advice.

While the contestants displayed their skills in the job-hunting contest, sponsors and participating companies used the occasion to gain insight into the latest batch of business students across the country. The judges believe all 12 candidates in the grand final are ready and good enough to be hired.

“We [the judges] would be happy to take any one of those 12 as employees for each of our respective organisations,” said judge Paul McSheaffrey, partner, audit, at KPMG.

But to be successful, McSheaffrey stressed the importance of people skills. “Actually, 60 to 70 per cent of what we do is about dealing with people. I’m looking for someone who is engaging, who can talk with the client and interest them. Most of our job is dealing with people and dealing with people well,” he said.

Imma Ling, partner, assurance, PwC, underscored professional fervour. She said: “You must have passion for the industry you want to join. We also need people who are good team players, who can mobilise team members, develop people’s potential, and create compromises out of conflicts.

“Eventually the champion that we identified today was among the leaders who resolved the issues and differences among team members. That is one of the qualities of a leader.”