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Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Enlightening minds

Published on Saturday, 03 Sep 2016

Having beaten off stiff competition during interviews at April’s Classified Post Career Forum, a handful of ambitious young jobseekers got the opportunity to spend three days seeing working life through the eyes of a senior executive as part of the Shadow a CEO Programme.

The four companies that participated in the programme, which is held biannually, comprised Johnson Controls, Thales, DFS and Kering. Between them, they provided 10 candidates with the opportunity to witness the day-to-day running of their companies from the top level.

Throughout the three-day programme, the candidates got the chance to participate in a number of both internal and external activities, from attending informal lunches with department heads and delivering presentations to top management to site visits and meetings with external stakeholders.

The 10 shadows all said it was an eye-opening experience that will help steer them onto the right career path. Each of the companies, meanwhile, agreed that having the shadows on board also taught them a thing or two, and all expressed their interest in taking part in the programme again. 

“Having the shadows around reminded me to always think from different angles before making decisions, and also made me consider how to handle discussions between myself and various stakeholders,” said Carlo Imò, president of Kering Asia Pacific.

Benjamin Vuchot, region president, Asia north, at DFS Group, appreciated the opportunity to see things from the perspective of someone just starting out in their career.

“Young people bring with them a fresh perspective as well as an energy and curiosity that is not only invigorating, but also encourages all of us to look at our world through new eyes and see different solutions to old challenges,” Vuchot said.

“Even on just a three-day programme, I saw my shadow’s confidence and curiosity grow and I think she certainly walked away with a better understanding of DFS and the world of luxury travel retail.”

Richard Mallett, vice president of Thales Critical Information Systems and Cybersecurity for Asia-Pacific, said he was impressed by his shadow’s eagerness to learn, as well as his confident attitude.

“We didn’t want to just put him in front of PowerPoint presentations during his time with us, as we were keen for him to see what the company does,” Mallett explained. “We got him out talking to senior managers in different departments, who shared what the company does as well as their views on what it takes to become a good leader.”

Ricky Chan, general manager and managing director of Johnson Controls, said that he aimed to deliver a holistic view of building services from the perspective of a multinational company in the engineering field – an approach that was much appreciated by his shadows.

“After completing this programme, I’m more confident in deciding my career path as an engineer,” said Kevin Tse, a building services engineering student at City University, who shadowed Chan. “I think the experience would definitely help me to secure a place in any construction or engineering firm.”

To gain a place on the Shadow a CEO Programme, which is open to undergraduates and recent graduates, candidates were required to register online and then complete an essay on why they wanted to take part.

Those that made the shortlist were then interviewed at the Career Forum by recruitment consultants Kelly Services Hong Kong, who were on the lookout for candidates who could articulate exactly why they wanted to participate in the programme.

Those interested in applying for the next iteration of the programme can do so from now up until the day of the next Classified Post Career Forum, which will be held on October 6 at the InnoCentre in Kowloon Tong.


Charismatic candidates impress interviewers


For the third year running, Kelly Services Hong Kong helped to select standout candidates for the Shadow a CEO Programme. “We were looking for people who were able to demonstrate that they really wanted this opportunity,” said Darren Tay, director of BTI Consultants, a division of Kelly.

At the Career Forum, Tay and his team shortlisted six candidates for each of the four participating companies, who themselves chose the final candidates. “Each CEO has their own set of criteria – some might want people with certain language skills, extra-curricular activities or charity work, or simply a person with a strong academic background,” Tay said.

He noted that candidates came from all walks of life. “Some came from a privileged middle-class upbringing, while others had fought hard to be where they are and won scholarships and bursaries to study.”

Those who had researched the CEOs and their companies impressed the most. “One of the questions we ask is ‘which CEO would you like to shadow?’ and some don’t know which companies and CEOs are participating,” Tay said. “The candidates that are well prepared know exactly who they want to shadow and can articulate why. That is a way for them to engage us.”

The programme also provides participating companies with a branding boost. “It shows an openness towards young people and helps get them in touch with Generation Z, who I feel are pretty misunderstood and are actually very creative. It’s an opportunity for them to bridge the gap.”

After three years of involvement, Tay continues to endorse the programme’s aims. “If I have friends with kids around this age, I encourage them to take part – it’s like an internship. And following around a CEO is quite a bragging right.”

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Enlightening minds.

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