Career Advice Job Market Report

A range of top-class exhibitors were on hand at the Career Forum to showcase opportunities for college graduates and management trainees

DFS Group

Renowned for bringing together world-class brands and personalised service, leading global luxury travel duty-free retailer the DFS Group believes that taking part in the recent Classified Post Career Forum was a productive way of directly interacting with potential job candidates.

“While many people know the DFS brand, the Career Forum provided a good opportunity to explain in detail about the different training programmes and the diverse range of career opportunities DFS offers,” said Cecilia Poon, DFS Group global HR project specialist, who was on hand to provide information and answer questions.

Poon said, for example, that she was able to explain to attendees how DFS looks for employees who are passionate about the luxury retail industry, have strong communication skills and get excited by the prospect of learning in an agile work environment. With operations in airports and city locations in 13 countries across four continents, the upmarket retailer looks for job candidates who embrace diversity and relish the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment. “We can teach the technical skills, but it is the passion and motivated personality characteristics we really value,” explained Poon. Language skills, including fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin are also valued.

Majority-owned by the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, DFS was originally established in Hong Kong in 1960. Hong Kong remains the global headquarters from where the DFS Group conducts its strategic planning for the company’s global operations involving about 9,000 employees. “A lot of people don’t realise that DFS started life as a Hong Kong company,” said Poon.

To ensure that recruits, including fresh graduates and those with a few years of experience, receive best-fit training, DFS offers two career pathways. The graduate trainee programme, for example, is designed to provide recent university graduates with an opportunity to fast-track their careers with an 18 to 24-month rotational programme. During the programme, trainees receive hands-on experience in both store and office environments. Trainees are also assigned responsibilities and receive support from managers and mentors. Upon completion of the programme, candidates can choose between different job streams in retail, finance or technology.

Meanwhile, for recruits with a master’s degree in any discipline and more than four years of working experience, the DFS accelerated leadership programme (ALP) provides opportunities to gain diverse exposure in DFS’ store operations, merchandising or corporate functions as managers-in-training. As a core part of their training, ALP trainees are assigned departmental responsibilities and key business projects. Job rotations also form a key part of the training to prepare trainees for a career in retail management. Poon said that, depending on business needs, performance, and individual aspiration, managers-in-training are groomed to assume a leadership role with global placement opportunities. In addition to its APL and graduate trainee programme, the DFS University provides a portfolio of programmes designed to support opportunities for the on-going application of learning and personal growth. “DFS encourages employees to seek out career options within the company that are aligned with individual desires, aspirations and life stages,” said Poon.


Technoform Bautec

For Technoform Bautec Hong Kong, a leading international provider of high-precision insulating solutions as well as a provider of special solutions for use in aluminium windows, doors and façades, the recent Classified Post Career Forum provided an opportunity to set aside some of the negative perceptions associated with manufacturing such as low-skilled work with few career prospects.

Gilbert Sin, plant manager at Technoform Bautec Hong Kong said the company would like potential management and engineering trainees to look beyond the stereotypes associated with the manufacturing industry, and instead focus on the opportunities a career in the sector can offer. Sin said the German-headquartered company with a global presence is a pioneer in a 21st-century industry and relies on 21st-century career-orientated employees to operate the business. “We have our own technologies and know-how and use state-of-the-art equipment in advanced facilities,” Sin explained. “We would like to invite young jobseekers to visit our manufacturing facility, which is, for many, an eye-opening experience,” he said. The Classified Post Career Forum provided an environment to meet and talk to young people of different education backgrounds who may not have considered a career in the manufacturing industry.

With Technoform Bautec Hong Kong experiencing an expanding customer base, particularly across Asia, Sin explained that the company is looking for management and engineer trainees to become the future driving force within the company. For example, successful management trainees would become responsible for strategic development and a key member of the management team. Likewise, engineer trainees could become future leaders of process development, materials and advanced manufacturing technology.

Technoform Bautec is conscious that today’s job candidates are looking for purpose and challenges, and management trainees that join the firm can expect to be presented with opportunities to put in to use critical thinking, problem-solving abilities and be tasked with meaningful responsibilities. Sin said that, as a company that thrives on innovation, Technoform Bautec makes a concerted effort to ensure management and engineering trainees are not only supported during their training period, but also motivated to be the innovative drivers of their own career.

Graduates, preferably with a master’s degree and not more than a few years of experience, can also expect to be assigned to various departments both in Hong Kong and mainland China and overseas where they will be able to gain an in depth understanding of the business, company values and culture, competence and technology.

 “There really are high-level career advancement opportunities for management trainees who are prepared to invest in their own career with commitment, passion and resilience,” explained Sin. He said similar attractive career opportunities await engineering trainees who undergo training in state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in Hong Kong and mainland China, where they will develop a range of skills ranging from process control, tool design, materials technology, maintenance, automation and quality control.

Overseas training will also be arranged for successful trainees at the company’s ultra-modern manufacturing plant in Germany. Applicants for the engineering trainee programme should ideally be fast learners, proactive team members and have a strong and curious technical mind. They should also be university graduates from manufacturing, mechanical, materials or any other related disciplines.


Stan Group (Holdings)

A spin-off from the real estate platform, Stan Group (Holdings) has, in four years, developed five core businesses encompassing co-working spaces, hospitality, property development, financial services and communications. With most of its operations taking off in the past year, the group is eager to attract a new level of talent to fuel future growth.

According to Mary Suen, head of corporate culture and talent development, the group’s hospitality wing is in particular looking for different levels of manpower thanks to the group’s plan to open eight or nine new properties this year followed by a target to operate a total of 18 hotels by 2019.

“Talent is vital to us and is also a pillar for the company,” said Suen. “We have nurtured a culture of grooming talents and, though graduate trainees are our ultimate goal, we have established a team of 15 internal coaches to support the personal and career development of new staff. We hope to train 20 additional coaches this year in order to promote staff engagement and a cohesive team. Moreover, our corporate culture is to enable staff to find their own values within the company and empower themselves to work better.”

Rather than emphasising soft and hard skills, culture fit is the core. This explains why innovative ways like use of phone interviews may be used to screen young candidates. “There is no bias when doing such phone chats and we look for someone with passion that drives us to meet them,” Suen explained.

“Our business welcomes millennials to bring in new perspectives that young people are looking for. To cope with this new generation, our nine business industries with 30 brands allow internal transfers for stellar performers who are curious and love new challenges. Rather than us losing them, they may try to work in our sister companies.”

The company has also adopted the credo of Confucian Entrepreneurs, which stresses “six arts” including ritual, music, archery and chariot-riding as a cornerstone. It’s part of the corporate culture nurtured through the organisation of activities and courses driven and decided by staff, i.e. war games and cooking classes. This bottom-up approach follows the preferences of staff and, most importantly, it’s not just for fun but factors in elements of personal development.



The newly established Data Studio at HKSTP was highlighted at the Career Forum and proved vital for contestants in the Classified Post Hackathon

Tasked with providing real-life solutions to challenges in the insurance and media industries, teams participating in the inaugural Classified Post Hackathon were able to access publicly available data sets from the recently established Data Studio, located at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP).

With access to data vital to correlating analysis, defining trends and making predictions, Hackathon teams were able to build their digital solutions based on the application programming interface (API) data sets hosted at the Data Studio.

Albert Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC), said the HKSTP Data Studio had been set up to play a key role in helping to accelerate the development of Hong Kong’s smart city applications and solutions. “The Data Studio is an online and offline meet-up facility for public and private organisations to interact and exchange ideas to develop smart city solutions backed by data,” explained Wong.

Wong said the new facility, established at the tail end of last year, provides a convenient collaborative environment for the business sector and developer community to co-create data applications.

For instance, companies willing to share their data can publish it through the Data Centre API format. The process allows businesses to make better use of their data banks, while software developers are able to develop functional apps based on the shared data.

Wong said the HKSTP Data Studio would support a range of initiatives such as providing a test-bed centre for rapid experimentation and proof of concept, data visualisation for big data education and to inspire innovation and a conduit for collaboration through aggregated data produced by private companies and the government. The Data Studio can also contribute to the Government’s open data infrastructure.

Noting that the Data Studio is a fundamental component of the HKSTP Smart City Platform initiative, Wong said it provides a repository for a wide range of data related to transport, environment, education and construction and can be expected to help expedite the development of Hong Kong’s data-driven economy. “The Smart City Platform serves the purpose of educating, nurturing and connecting the I&T (innovation and technology) community to align objectives so as to produce useful innovation for Hong Kong,” said Wong. He also explained how the Data Studio offers new types of data relating to people flow, vehicle flow, environment, waste, energy and real time transportation.”

Such  data can help retailers plan revenue generation and promotion opportunities, as well as better manage their facilities to cater for the unexpected peaks of people entering a building,” said Wong. Further, he said taxi and mini-bus data counts, together with queue status, can help commuters plan their travel options more efficiently.

Providing an extension of the Data Studio initiative, the HKSTP, in March this year, launched a data analytics platform with the aim of accelerating the development, testing, validation and adoption of smart city solutions in Hong Kong. The new platform offers hybrid cloud technology infrastructure, as well as on-site graphics processing unit (GPU) computing. The new facility enables data analysts, data engineers and software developers to apply to data sets including those extracted from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors for use with big data analytics and data visualisation

With the recent issue of data extracted from Facebook raising concerns about data privacy, Wong stressed that data made available through the Data Studio is anonymised. For example, data relating to vehicle and people flows do not capture biometric features or car number plate information.

“Every data set is reviewed prior to publication to ensure it meets data privacy protection requirements,” Wong said. By logging on to the Data Studio website to register, individuals and companies are able to access two types of data – locked and unlocked.

Unlocked or open data is available without restrictions. Locked data, however, will only be released to the subscriber with permission from the data publisher. For all data types, the access period is for 90 days, after which time access can be renewable with the approval of the publisher.