Shadow a CEO Programme paves students’ way to the top
The newly expanded annual Classified Post Career Forum, held in March this year, was once again packed with employment-related opportunities and activities for students and recent graduates.
Representatives from more than 30 top-rank employers from across Hong Kong’s spectrum of economic sectors were invited to the Kowloon Shangri-La to discuss their management trainee programmes and career opportunities. The two-day event provided a non-stop flow of talks and seminars covering topics such as ‘How to Ace an Interview’ and ‘Paid Full-time Finance and Investment Banking Internships in New York and London’.
Alongside a range of new and established activities — which included company tours and professional photo shoots — the Shadow a CEO Programme continues to be an extremely popular highlight.
This time round, the three bosses who volunteered to have their footsteps dogged and their working days scrutinised came from Hong Kong’s financial, hospitality and engineering industries.
Over 100 students submitted applications for a place on the programme, but only 10 were selected to spend three days with a CEO.
Kelvin Chong, manager of transactional services for recruitment firm Robert Walters Hong Kong, led a team that interviewed and selected candidates at the Career Forum for the Shadow a CEO Programme. Chong pointed out that this was an incredible opportunity for students, most of whom hadn’t yet been given a chance to spend time in prestigious companies such as those in the programme.
“This programme is different to an internship,” he said. “In an internship you might just be doing day-to-day jobs, but this is something a little bit different because the students are given the opportunity to not just go into the industry, but to sit next to the decision-making parties in the company and see what senior ‘C’ level management thinks and does on a daily basis.”
One of the three CEOs selected was Vincent Ho Kui-yip, managing director of Freevision — which specialises in architectural surveying and design — and head of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS). Ho described some of what the three students assigned to him experienced. “They had a good opportunity to mingle with my staff and appreciate the fact that a CEO has to handle many problems during the day, arising from both internal and external issues, and that I, in my role as the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, also have to respond to enquiries from the media.”
Also selected was Song Hoi-see, founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Lounge, which offers a wide range of services to passengers at airports around the world. Song clearly drew some satisfaction from taking his four students on a tour of his working life.
“One thing that struck me was their attentiveness to my sharing and the way in which they were immediately able to apply it when I showed them around our facilities. I’ve always believed in the value of education and I hoped that, through this programme, I could use my personal experience to help our next generation.”
Lau Ka-shi, managing director and CEO of pension and investment group Bank Consortium Trust (BCT), left her three shadows with some advice for the future.
“I encouraged them to do more networking. Even if you’re doing a good job, you have to be visible.
“You don’t have to step on others to climb but you do need to be visible and you do need to be assertive. You have to shine.
“You have to have substantive knowledge and really know what you’re talking about.”
Robert Walters picks the best for the Shadow a CEO programme
Competing against more than 100 hopefuls, 10 students were selected by Robert Walters for the Classified Post’s Shadow a CEO Programme.
The specialist recruitment firm was invited by Classified Post to participate in the programme’s selection process.
Kelvin Chong, manager of transactional services for Robert Walters Hong Kong, praised the high quality of the applicants that he and his colleagues interviewed at the Classified Post Career Forum.
“I was very impressed with their level of interest and their enthusiasm, and they did come very well prepared,” Chong said.
In Chong’s view, showing that you’d done your homework and had the right attitude were prerequisites for successful applicants.
“The three companies [whose CEOs were to be shadowed] had very specific criteria. When we did the screening we looked at [the applicants’] passion and their goals. If they, for example, applied for the [Bank Consortium Trust] programme, then we expected them to have a level of interest in the finance sector and a connection to it through, say, a course they’d done. If not, then we looked at what really inspired them to apply for this company.”
Initially, applicants submitted an essay explaining why they wanted a place on the programme. More than 100 would-be ‘shadows’ were then whittled down to 50 candidates, all of whom met Robert Walters’ team at the Career Forum. “We had four consultants who sat at our booth and conducted very quick interviews, each probably lasting about 30 minutes.
“The selection criteria were based on things such as their educational background, their achievements so far including their extra-curricular activities, any internships they’d had and any awards they’d won. We also looked at their attitude and their career aspirations.
“We were looking to choose the best from the group to spend three days with some of the top management people around, so obviously they had to be very eager to learn and generally positive on a day-to-day basis.”
Chong also pointed out a weakness in some of the young people he spoke to, saying that a few of the applicants lacked confidence.
“They could be reserved when it came to interacting with people – especially compared to some of the applicants who had international exposure, such as through an exchange programme. They tended to be more outgoing.”
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Highway to the top.