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Jobs offer measure of public safety

Published on Thursday, 22 Mar 2012
Susanne Kiraly, CSA Group’s EVP for global strategic business and government relations.
Photo: CSA Group

Canadian testing and certification company CSA Group is expanding in the Greater China region, creating jobs and upgrading skills in the process. The company, which has had a branch office in Hong Kong since 1997, is hiring both engineers as well as sales and marketing executives to support its burgeoning operations.

CSA tests a wide range of products, including gas safety, water consumption, and electrical devices, such as household appliances and lighting, and industrial machinery.
Testing can be mandatory or optional, as when company management behind a brand wants to prove the quality of its products.

“Certification is like a product passport – it helps manufacturers to move their products around the world,” explains Suzanne Kiraly, CSA Group’s executive vice-president for global strategic business and government relations. 

She says their work helps to keep manufactures in the loop about changing product safety requirements, and makes sure shipments will arrive on time – ready and safe for public consumption. 

The company takes on young graduates as well as engineers specialising in electrical and electronic equipment with experience in testing.

Part of the job is dealing with clients professionally, such as explaining how the product will be handled and how long the tests take. Crucially, they must meet deadlines.

“The ability to solve problems is very important when the product does not pass. The engineers have to help the manufacturer to reconsider the design,” Kiraly says.

Engineers are required to have multiple language skills, the minimum being Cantonese, English and Mandarin. They must also be ready to travel overseas, usually at least a day each week. 

The sales and marketing position requires some technical knowledge, and candidates should be comfortable with marketing a service rather than a product. They will have to help manufacturers understand new requirements, the need for testing, and the company’s services.

CSA’s Hong Kong back-office is also expanding as it is becoming the regional hub, with accounting, human resources, marketing and operational development based here. “Hong Kong has a rich talent pool,” Kiraly says.

The company’s site manager, Charles Chau, has been with CSA Group for 20 years, climbing the career ladder from engineer to team leader and on to his current position. 
The Canada-based Kiraly has also been with the company for two decades, starting out in marketing communications, and doing stints in Hong Kong and in Europe.

She says CSA Group is committed to developing staff and promoting from within. The company helps employees achieve international qualifications, and provides them with training programmes, mentoring and on-the-job training, either in Hong Kong or in one of their major centres.

Training covers communication and programme development skills, including how to analyse client needs, and management training to develop leadership skills. A job-rotation programme is being developed to offer staff training overseas.

In exchange, “our employer can expect us to live up to our values of mutual respect, integrity, safe environment, accountability and sustainable business,” Kiraly says.

The company’s seasoned employees in Hong Kong were instrumental in opening the offices and training the staff on mainland China, where CSA has about 500 people.

As one of Hong Kong’s six pillar industries as identified by the government, the city’s booming testing and certification sector is fuelling the expansion of CSA’s local laboratory.

“The government has a lot of interest in and initiatives for improving the usage of energy and sustainability,” Kiraly says. “We see a lot of opportunities in the Hong Kong market. A lot of design is coming out of Hong Kong and branding companies represent a large number of manufacturers.”

iraly says that, even during uncertain economic conditions, manufacturers need to innovate, so they will need testing certificates for their new products. And as energy efficiency requirements are tightened, companies are increasingly demanding certificates to prove that the items they use or produce are energy efficient. 

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