Career Advice Job Market Trend Report

Engineers aboard for Arup 'journey'

The Hong Kong operations of global engineering firm Arup have considerably expanded during the past year, with new projects underway. The headcount has grown to 1,800 staff in the city, and the company is still recruiting, with openings for both design and site engineers, as well as for graduate trainees.

“We are still growing. The problem is finding the right people,” says Catherine Tsui, director of human resources, Arup East Asia.

Arup is looking for design engineers in the structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and environmental disciplines. It is also hiring project managers and marine engineers. Company sites require engineering professionals in supervisory roles – from resident works supervisors to senior resident and chief engineers.

Arup urgently needs design engineers with four to eight years’ work experience and Tsui hopes to hire 50 to 60 design engineers in the coming year.
Project managers are also in urgent demand. “They should have either an engineering background or surveying, construction management or project programming skills. We need people with about five years’ experience,” Tsui says.

She also expects to have more than 100 positions to fill in the coming year for site supervisory roles. All are middle-management and the emphasis is on filling positions at major sites, including the Hong Kong Link Road connecting the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge with the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities.

Arup is also still recruiting for stage two of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme, which already has more than 200 on-site staff.

The skill sets for the two positions are quite different. “Design staff must have good communication and interpersonal skills, and they have to be team players,” Tsui says, adding that Arup staff work on multi-disciplinary projects, and have to constantly communicate with their own team members and colleagues both in the region and on the mainland.

“They have to be creative and think out of the box to provide clients with innovative design,” Tsui says.

They also have need to be flexible and mobile because Arup has an increasing volume of work in China, and design staff may either have to travel or move there.

“Resident engineers must have the technical capability to supervise the contractors on-site, but must also communicate with government departments and office colleagues,” Tsui says. English-language skills are vital as most documents are in English. Putonghua is also becoming necessary.
Arup will also take on 70 to 80 new graduates for its training programme – same as last year. “We believe in organic growth, that is why we recruit fresh graduates,” Tsui says.

Fresh hires receive an in-depth induction about company values, as well as orientation on the IT system and knowledge centre, where they can find the information they may need. Arup also offers comprehensive training at all levels. Potential high-fliers may be sent to an overseas office to gain experience.

“We say that when someone joins us, they are starting a journey. Many of our executives started with Arup as fresh graduates, and they are still here,” Tsui says. “To make that happen, we offer challenging projects. Many who join us are attracted by the projects we have. They will never be bored here.”
The company’s mission to shape a better world is also an attractive proposition. This includes excellence and taking pride in what you do, integrated design offering a total solution to the clients, socially responsible and engaging staff to give back to society, and strict ethical behaviour when dealing with clients or colleagues.

The company is quite unusual in that it is owned by its employees. It has a global profit-sharing scheme and after outgoings and provision for research and development, every single permanent employee benefits from the net profit.