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Selecting the best of the best

Published on Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011
This year’s judges are (from left) Margaret Cheng of HSBC, Professor Steven DeKrey of HKUST, Mei Tong of PPG Industries International, Kam To of Manulife International, and Rex Aguado of Classified Post.
Photo: Aon Hewitt

Aon Hewitt has just completed its ‘Best Employers in Hong Kong 2011’ study. The winning company is JW Marriott Hong Kong, a five-star hotel with more than 750 employees. The runners-up are American Express International, McDonald’s Hong Kong, and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.

The study evaluates, assesses and benchmarks people practices and their alignment to business performance. The idea is to identify the ingredients that really make Best Employers the best. By participating in the study, all companies – not just the winners – learn how to make the most of their strengths in order to improve their performance and business results. Equally valuable is the feedback from Aon Hewitt, which identifies areas and practices that may need improvement.

This year’s study – the sixth – was expanded to cover not just Asia but also the Asia Pacific. New markets covered include Japan, Indonesia and the Middle East, bringing the total to 11.

Best Employers are identifiable by several characteristics that distinguish them from other companies. The four winners showed how they carry out practices that both support their business strategies and help develop strong relationships with employees. They excel at making their employees feel a real connection to the business.

Best Employers also keep employees informed about the company’s goals and its progress in meeting them. They align their people with business through performance management and fast-paced career development. Finally, they link pay with the performance of both the individual and the company.

Panelists who make the decisions 

PROFFESOR STEVEN DEKREY was the chief judge for the Aon Hewitt Best Employer in Hong Kong study this year. He is senior associate dean, director of master’s programmes and adjunct professor, management, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School. He’s the founding director of the Kellogg/HKUST EMBA programme, which was ranked by the Financial Times as the world’s number one – three times. He was also 2008 chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“There were many strong companies which were not selected this year, partly due to the annual change in criteria and the tightening up of the number of winners,” he says. “The judges would like to congratulate all entries, finalists and winners. The dedication to employees shown by their participation is respected and admired. We offer special recognition to winners.”

MARGARET CHENG is head of human resources for regional PFS and Hong Kong at HSBC, and has more than 16 years’ HR experience in the financial services sector. She has extensive experience across HR functions, including resourcing, compensation and generalist roles. Prior to joining HSBC in September 2001, she worked for financial institutions including Citigroup, JP Morgan and Bank of America. She holds a BA degree in human resources management from the California State University and an MBA from Kellogg Business School, Northwestern University and HKUST.

KAM TO is head of HR at Manulife International. He is also in charge of developing people strategies and executing various corporate initiatives to build Manulife into an employer of choice in Hong Kong. Before joining Manulife, he worked in major corporate and investment banks, including Citi, Nomura and ING. He holds four degrees, including a master’s in training and human resources management.

“The Best Employer award is one with a high level of quality because the assessment process is largely based on objective data that come through an extremely rigorous collection process,” he says.

MEI TONG is director of strategic planning and business development for Asia Pacific at PPG Industries International, where she has worked since 2010. Prior to that, she was with Kimberly-Clark (China) in several management roles, including operation finance, strategic planning and corporate development. She holds an MBA degree from Peking University and a social science research PhD fellowship from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“Hong Kong has been recognised as the world’s most competitive market. It is in our interest to create an equally competitive work force to compete in both regional and global markets. Human capital strategy will define a company’s performance versus its business strategies.”

REX AGUADO is chief editor of Recruitment Services at South China Morning Post. He and his team look after Classified Post and Fuel, a weekly publication focusing on career planning and opportunities for university students, young graduates and junior executives. He was formerly international business news editor at SCMP and the founding editor of ReviewAsia magazine.

“This is my first participation in the selection process for this award, and I’m very much impressed with the rigorous screening and evaluation that Aon Hewitt had done in advance. The winners are, indeed, the best of the best,” he says.

Five keys areas

  • Strong organisational alignment
  • Clear and compelling vision
  • Performance-driven culture
  • Pervasive accountability and trust
  • Efficient and effective people practices

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