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NTT Com Asia looks to attract smart ICT talent

Telecoms company prides itself on its attractive work environment

NTT Com Asia prides itself on not only providing cutting-edge information and communications solutions, but also on promoting its business by attracting and keeping dedicated and happy employees.

Rita Chan, the company's Hong Kong-based executive vice-president for human resources and administration, says the company makes a point of introducing interesting ways to attract talented individuals and creating an enjoyable working environment. “I had a vision for HR when drafting this company’s recruitment strategy: to attract smart people and put into place good practices, so that we will be an aspirational company,” Chan says.

As part of Fortune Global 500 telecommunications company NTT – which has offices in 120 cities and 41 countries and regions, with headquarters in Japan – NTT Com Asia provides information and communications technology and services for businesses in East Asia. It's Hong Kong office is located in Tseung Kwan O, where it employs nearly 400 staff and is responsible for the Macau, Taiwan and Korean markets, as well as Hong Kong’s.

NTT is hiring at all levels, including mid-career and some senior levels, such as that of commercial director, to help with pricing and regulations of processing payments for its e-business. At the junior level, NTT needs customer service and post-sales staff in its data centre support office.

Chan, who has 25 years of HR experience, says the challenge for her department was to “add value to our customers, our shareholders – in terms of making profits – and our staff, and also our community”. She says the solution is to work hard at “genuinely engaging” its employees.

This included installing a lavish “staff corner”, covering an entire floor of the building, with its own mini-cinema complete with a huge screen, a vast selection of films and stylish soft leather sofas. It also includes a room filled with computer games, a bank of iPads, a well-equipped gym and massage chairs.

The idea for the staff area came about in 2013 after Chan undertook a survey among employees asking what they wanted from the company. They wrote their requests on post-it notes and, not surprisingly, the responses included wanting more time with their families, but also a better “family” atmosphere at work.

“Happy employees make happy customers,” Chan says. To that end she introduced a series of initiatives she calls the “iCare” programme. These include “Green Monday” lunches to promote healthy eating – “a healthy employee is a productive and happy one,” Chan says – and activities such as monthly family days out. The company also offers free classes in subjects such as yoga and cooking, run by fellow employees to “tap into the talent we have in the company”.

As well as the gym, sports events such as soccer and hockey matches are also organised. “We’ve even got our own ‘NTT’s Got Talent’ event,” Chan says. “People spend 10 hours a day at work, so we want to make it as enjoyable as possible.”

NTT’s management discussed allowing employees to use this “uptime” as they call it (not downtime because they want it to uplift and energise people) during their working day. “We said, ‘why not?’ They can feel 10 times more productive after a session on the treadmill or the computer games. Let them play! We even have massage chairs here, which are very popular after lunch. This is a home away from home,” Chan says.

Since NTT introduced these measures about a year ago, staff turnover has been significantly reduced, she adds. “The projected turnover for last year is 7.8 per cent, compared to previous years when it was above the market average at 18 to 19 per cent.” The market average is 13 to 14 per cent for the IT/hi-tech industry, according to Chan. “Imagine how much the company has saved.”

Chan hopes people will talk about NTT’s staff benefits the way they talk about Google’s. “Aspiration is part of our vision. I definitely want engaged employees and for graduates to want to come and work for us.”

She particularly wants to encourage young people to join the company, as the intention is to grow talent internally, rather than poaching from other companies. She says the average age of the employees at NTT HK is 38 and that 49 per cent are aged 29 to 40, while 17 per cent are 17 to 30.

NTT Com’s core business includes its data centre, its cloud computing and the relatively recently launched e-payment section, which incorporates online booking for flights and hotels. “NTT Com Asia is expanding rapidly and is especially looking for data centre specialists for all levels, which would be suitable for both fresh graduate and experienced candidates,” Chan says.

Junior posts such as a data centre assistants, involve providing technical support and assistance to the team and clients for which a tertiary education in computer engineering or related fields is preferred. For more senior specialists, who would monitor the IT infrastructure and services to ensure continuous availability and stability of the data centre, a computer engineering-related educational background with a professional certification such as CCNA, CCNP, LPI, and at least five to eight years relevant experience in the IT/telecoms industry is preferred.

NTT Com also has a vacancy for a Cloud manager, which Chan says requires a talented individual with an innovative mindset. “We take the lead globally and regionally and we are influencing others to do a better job, so we are seeking someone special with lots of ideas.”


NTT identity

Rita Chan says NTTs values are embodied in three key areas

Innovation “Dare to be different. If we want to transform this company we have to stick our necks out.”

Passion “Love what you do (borrowed from Steve Jobs). This is what NTT wants – people who are genuinely engaged and can find meaning in their work and the value they are adding to the company. If you are doing something mundane and you’re not happy, ask yourself why and speak to your manager about how you can change.”

Ownership “Treat the company as your own. If this were your company, would you treat it differently? Would you switch off the lights when you leave the room, for example? This is the kind of culture we encourage at NTT.”