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Finger on pulse of new talent

Published on Friday, 04 May 2012
Mimi Leung
Hong Kong HR manager
Medtronic International
Photo: David Wong


The talent war never stops. In the medical device industry especially, we look for talents who already have comprehensive product knowledge, technical expertise and the capability to partner with medical professionals. The entry barrier is high and the existing talent pool is so thin in Hong Kong compared with other cyclically booming industries such as finance or information technology.

Talent supply and employee retention are therefore not new challenges to Medtronic, one of the most well-known medical device leaders, which ranked 28 in the 2012 Forbes list of the Most Reputable Companies in America.

As with other multinational companies, it is no surprise to find these quotes on our official company website: competitive total rewards, global presence, multiple career path, comprehensive training and development programme, corporate social citizenship value.

The real differentiation lies in whether a company is willing to invest in its people through building an early pipeline, creating a culture of coaching, welcoming job rotation and internal promotion, as well as running a talent programme for their top performers - not asking you to surf through thousand choices of

e-learning courses from the corporate training intranet, but offering instead a tailor-made programme focusing on your most urgent development needs.

Courses and programmes

We launched our own trainee development scheme - the Medtronic Eyas Program (MEP) - on the mainland six years ago, and extended it to Hong Kong in 2010.

In the past six years, the programme - named after a young hawk - has recruited 196 trainees in Greater China. Each year, only 1 per cent of applicants will receive an offer from us. This robust scheme includes three weeks of classroom training - the Trainee Development Camp - at our Greater China headquarters, followed by one year of on-the-job training. During the development camp, trainees will learn a wide variety of basic knowledge and skills including major product knowledge, processes and policies, salesmanship skills, communication, business etiquette and time management.

In addition, our Greater China top management and national sales manager will share their experience. There are also project assignments, with presentations to top management.

Exams are set on all key product lines, with 80 marks as the pass score. There is only one chance to retake it and anyone who fails that must quit the programme. The bar is very high and demonstrates Medtronic's expectations and requirements of our new blood, how we continuously stretch them, even after passing the round of interviews and joining the camp.


COACH - which stands for communication, observation, action, care and help - is another key success factor in MEP. We assign each trainee one "coach" to provide daily on-site coaching and help them accelerate their business competency development.

Success relies heavily on the COACH partnership, and we expect our coaches to excel in skills such as regular communication offering structured feedback at the right time and place.

They must also observe a coachee's behaviour and identify progress as well as opportunities for improvement. Coaches must lead by example and carry out improvement action plans effectively. They also have to take care of a coachee's development and build trust while helping to improve their skills and capabilities.

The partnerships serve two purposes: turning trainees into qualified professionals in their first year, while coaches acquire leadership and coaching skills. This is one way we train and retain future people managers.

Our "new hire 90-day plan" includes product training, exams and field work coaching. There are also bi-weekly reviews, monthly formal coaching, skills training such as sales call tactics, quarterly Greater China trainee peer group and coach sharing, and an annual trainee night gathering.

Mimi Leung, Hong Kong HR manager, Medtronic International

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