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Laying foundations for new workers

Published on Thursday, 09 Aug 2012
Penny Hubbard-Brown, director of Mace Hong Kong, wants to find people who are always looking to challenge the status quo.
Photo: Berton Chang

International consultancy and construction company Mace Hong Kong is currently involved in a number of high-profile projects, including Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Science Park and the Jockey Club’s New Generation Racecourse development at Sha Tin.

“Good projects are coming up,” says Penny Hubbard-Brown, director of Mace Hong Kong. “We are in the process of bidding for both larger ones and smaller ones. We are incredibly interested in the projects we’ve got planned – they are going to be really challenging and exciting.”

The company wants to be “the best employer of the best people” and is very selective. Hubbard-Brown, who has lived and worked in both Hong Kong and Macau, prefers to hire chartered surveyors, engineers and architects, though Mace also supports less-qualified staff in their efforts to get their charterships.

She is very impressed with the calibre of staff in Hong Kong. “My team never fails to amaze me with their capability,” she says.

With 65 full-time staff in the city, Mace Hong Kong often advertises for resident staff. Hubbard-Brown says hiring for those positions has been quite tricky, as the market is hot and demand is quite high. The company, however, has a hiring advantage, as it treats contract employees no differently from permanent staff. They are involved in training sessions and social activities, and some feel such a part of the team that when their contracts finish they prefer to wait until Mace has another project coming up rather than find other employment.

“I’m always keen to meet people who want to be challenged and want to thrive,” she says. “We are not fussed about project-specific experience and don’t pigeon-hole people.”

She prefers to focus on attitude and seeks those who like to grab opportunities and have a passion to learn. One of the company’s objectives is to provide these opportunities for staff and clients alike.

Another of Mace’s objectives is safety. “Safety is number one, and this comes back to the bigger goal of pushing the boundaries to create a better construction industry. Mace likes to challenge the status quo. We believe there is always a better way and this is the mindset we try to find in applicants,” she says.

The business is agile and fast-paced with a focus on customised solutions and perfect delivery. At the same time it aims to benefit clients by always being honest and transparent.

With more than 3,000 employees in 65 countries, and with many multinational clients, Mace requires that its staff are fluent in English. Resident staff also need to be able to speak Cantonese, while a knowledge of Putonghua is also useful.

The job involves communicating with stakeholders who have different objectives. Candidates should therefore be able to get on with all kinds of people and “keep the plate spinning”.

Successful candidates will join an international team with members from the UK, China, Vietnam, the Middle East and Hong Kong, providing a blend of international, regional and local experience. According to Hubbard-Brown, there are opportunities to work across the globe. The atmosphere is also good, with flexible management and a flat management structure.

The company aims to maintain a collaborative, engaging and creative environment where people can thrive. “We have an entrepreneurial environment. You can build your own internal network around the world through the intranet and forums and use it for knowledge-sharing to gain a valuable global experience,” Hubbard-Brown says.

There is monthly in-house training and video conferencing from the UK, with topics including global safety drives, sustainability work and building information modelling. The company also promotes relevant external programmes.

The team often gets a chance to talk and get to know each other better through social meet-ups, barbecues, or simply having a few drinks.    


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