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Developer seeks top talent

Published on Friday, 29 Oct 2010
Swire Properties is to open a second East Hotel in 2012 as part of its Indigo development in Beijing.

High returns, low interest rates and plenty of buyers all point to one thing. The property market is on a roll, and that's good news whether you are a developer, a potential investor or looking to build a career in the sector.

"We have a number of residential projects in the pipeline, including 53 Stubbs Road, and the hotel business is picking up strongly due to improved market conditions," says Michelle Low, human resources director for Swire Properties.

"As we take a long-term view, recruiting quality staff is always important and market fluctuations have a limited impact on the number hired."

Incorporated in Hong Kong in 1972, Swire Properties develops and manages commercial, retail, hotel and residential assets. As a key part of its corporate strategy, it has been focusing on mixed-use developments in prime locations near mass transport hubs. Its investment portfolio in Hong Kong alone amounts to about 17.8 million sqft of gross floor area, including core holdings such as Pacific Place, Festival Walk and Island East.

Not surprisingly, the mainland market has also become an important area for growth. In Beijing, for example, the company's Sanlitun Village and an upmarket hotel, The Opposite House, are already operating. Meanwhile, three major mixed-use developments are under way in Shanghai, Guangzhou and the capital. All this contributes to a mainland investment portfolio of close to 10.8 million sqft.

"Some of the projects will have hotel elements, too," Low says, noting that the second East Hotel - the first is in Quarry Bay - is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2012 as part of its Indigo development in Beijing.

"In Britain, we will be opening the Montpellier Chapter - the first under the Chapter Hotel brand - in Cheltenham early next month, and there are a few more in the pipeline."

To keep pace with this growth, the company - part of the Swire Group conglomerate - recruits continuously for various positions. There are, for instance, regular openings for experienced engineers, architects and professionals in marketing and portfolio management.

Swire Properties also has trainee programmes to nurture future leaders and give high-potential graduates the skills and experience to one day run a business.

Each year sees an intake of management trainees from Hong Kong, the mainland and overseas. They can expect a full range of classroom courses and "action-oriented" programmes, as they progress through the induction phase and a series of on-the-job rotations. The aim is to provide training in customer service, management and day-to-day operations, among other topics.

"We aim to provide learning and development opportunities for high-calibre staff with a versatile mindset," Low says. "There are also a great number of career possibilities, according to one's abilities and interests, given the different paths on offer within the company and in the Swire Group."

Candidates must be interested in the property sector, willing to take on responsibilities, able to cope with change and geared to grow with the company.

As they advance, recruits may take relevant professional qualifications as surveyors, engineers or accountants. Line managers can provide regular mentoring and sufficient exposure to develop an all-round set of management skills.

Low also notes that hotel school graduates with internship experience are in demand. They should be passionate about dealing with customers and have a genuine desire to improve and learn every day.

"We have come this far because of the creativity and diligence of our staff," she says. "With this in mind, we actively value their opinions and efforts, irrespective of their roles."

She stresses that the company does not simply pay lip service to the notion of encouraging every employee to realise his or her potential. For example, generous subsidies are available for local and overseas training relevant to one's position, while numerous environmental and volunteer initiatives allow for close involvement in community activities.

"We encourage a healthy lifestyle in balancing the demands of the job with life outside work," Low says.

Company culture  

  • Encourages transfers and job rotations to broaden experience
  • Supports sustainable development, arts, education and environmental programmes
  • Promotes work-life balance by encouraging employees to join community activities


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