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Creating a vision for innovation and a better society

Published on Thursday, 10 Oct 2019
For young people motivated to achieve individual career success and make a contribution to society, there are immense opportunities for personal growth and continuing advancement at the dynamic Stan Group (Holdings) Ltd, as reflected in its corporate motto “Today is for Tomorrow”.
 
Innovation and an awareness of the needs of the wider community are part of the group’s DNA, according to its charismatic young chairman Stan Tang. The group is also committed to sustainable business development and investing in creative solutions for some of today’s social problems. 
 
In a strategic partnership with the Tang Shing-bor family, Stan Group manages a HK$60 billion asset and real estate portfolio. As a youthful and energetic conglomerate, which owns over 40 brands spanning five pillars, it has adopted a holistic people strategy to attract, develop and retain talent. A key aspect of this is providing a high level of mobility for employees through intra-group postings and transfers. This allows individuals to gain experience in a range of business units specialising in different areas. These include properties and asset management, hospitality and catering, communications and marketing consultancy services, financial services and The STILE (Social, Technology, Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship), which are innovative businesses with a social purpose. This arrangement offers employees the opportunity to gain exposure to diverse fields and gain different professional perspectives, so they can fully realise their career aspirations and reach their potential.
 
“We provide committed employees with a rewarding employment journey,” says Dr Clara Mak, Chief Operating Officer (Corporate Management) of Stan Group. “Our employees are seen as ‘customers’. Their career aspirations are fulfilled on three levels: in their individual career path, in terms of organisational development, and through social engagement.”
 
As a conglomerate, the challenges faced in talent acquisition are multi-dimensional. A particular focus at present is to find qualified people to fill openings in the property and real estate business. The division is now recruiting for leasing, building services, and asset management-related roles. Given the diverse mix of the group’s asset portfolio and its commitment to seamless services for customers, candidates should ideally have some experience in leasing, sales and marketing, project management and customer service.   
 
 
 
“These recruits will work on building partnerships with tenants who embrace goals and values similar to those of Stan Group,” Mak says. “In addition, we are in the process of transforming some of our properties for different uses as retail, catering, storage and logistics, and co-living spaces. Therefore, applicants who have some fundamental knowledge of these fields will be a good match for us.”  
 
She adds that the group welcomes applications from recent graduates who may not yet have a fixed idea about which sector they want to enter. 
 
“We are a diversified conglomerate that offers many career path and options,” Mak says. “Primarily, though, we expect employees to act not just as executives, but also as ‘designers”. Applying their knowledge, they can innovate and develop creative solutions in their roles.” 
 
“I LEAD STAN” and talent development
Within the group, the acronym “I LEAD STAN” is used to connote a set of core competencies that form the backbone of strategies for acquiring, developing, managing and retaining talent. In this respect, the letters stand for innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, accountability, delegation, strategic thinking, teamwork, adaptability and network. 
 
When recruiting, the group first looks to identify some of these core competencies and attributes in applicants. Once new employees are on board, there is a focus on personal development and defining individual career paths. For this, there are comprehensive training programmes to equip employees with the competencies and skill sets they need to keep improving and perform their assigned tasks effectively. 
 
For instance, there are specific courses and workshops on design thinking, innovation, leadership and strategic thinking. As a result, new employees quickly pick up the attributes and qualities needed to meet both personal and corporate objectives. 
 
“We offer many learning opportunities through in-house and external training courses and e-learning tools,” Mak says. “In addition, we have an education subsidy policy to support self-development. Each employee, regardless of their rank, is entitled to reimbursement of a standard lump sum subsidy annually. 
 
From corporate innovation to social engagement 
To drive innovation, Stan Group has also dedicated time and resources to nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit. Employees are encouraged to show a creative, change-making mindset and an innovative approach in individual assignments, team projects, and initiatives related to sustainability. 
 
The group also gets people involved in innovative ideas for crowd-sourcing. For example, the “Think-Hub” initiative is a platform which combines the concept of a think tank and a contemporary innovation hub. It allows participants to interact, exchange ideas and formulate strategies for business growth. 
 
Already, around 80 executives from different business units meet regularly to brainstorm ideas from multiple perspectives. Initially, most “Think-Hub” participants have been middle managers, but division heads can also invite or co-opt other members, in particular young graduates with high potential.
 
“In this way, we tap into collective wisdom for ideas on sustainable development and managing major organisational issues,” Mak says. “We get good advice and alternative perspectives on key subjects, potential investment opportunities, and ways to develop new business streams.”
 
Innovative ideas generated through “Think-Hub” also drive Stan Group’s social engagement programme, which encourages staff to be change-makers and develop a positive relationship with the wider community. 
 
“Our aim is to promote a vibrant society,” Mak says. “We value innovation and collaboration, and want to spread our corporate values through various channels to engage talent. Our corporate culture emphasises ‘creating shared values’ (CSV), which is achieved through the work environment and the various activities to upgrade core competencies.”  
 
Mak believes that aligning personal values with the group’s way of working and its vision, mission and values (VMV) is a good way of ensuring individual job satisfaction. 
 
“Each person’s true calling can emerge, meaning that employees become self-motivated and committed,” she says. “They see the profound meaning in their work, share common values, and continue to upgrade their competencies, all of which contributes to the betterment and development of the group.
 
“We are also committed to CRS (corporate responsibility and sustainability) and are setting up the “SYNC Foundation” to drive social innovation through making grants and cross-sectoral partnerships. We are going to launch a “Sports Power” scheme to support initiatives which promote physical and mental health, positive identity, youth empowerment, leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, integrity and accountability through sports and exercise.” 
 
 
Open communication 
In other respects, Stan Group favours a flat management structure and transparency. An open communication platform encourages direct interaction and the free exchange of views. Regular briefings, focus group meetings and “In Touch with Chairman” sessions also allow management to hear news and feedback during visits to individual business units and departments. 
 
“All employees are invited to our town hall meetings,” Mak says.  ‘’Apart from getting updates from management, these are great opportunities to ask questions. This kind of open communication facilitates staff engagement and alignment within the corporate culture.” 
 
She notes that Stan Group currently has a 1,700-strong workforce which is committed to innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. 
 
“Employees share our core values. They work to achieve our vision of a vibrant society and the mission of creating shared value for our shareholders, business partners, customers, employees and the community at large,” Mak says. 
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