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Shadow my leader

Published on Friday, 30 May 2014

Classified Post’s Shadow a CEO Programme gave students an inside view of top-level business

The Classified Post Career Forum, which took place in March, aimed to give those planning the first steps in their careers the opportunity to pick up some solid advice from Hong Kong's top employers and professional bodies, as well as the chance to apply for jobs right there and then.

But it also offered those attending a shot at something a little more exciting and unusual - a place on the Shadow a CEO Programme and the unique chance to see the working world through the eyes of a senior executive from a major organisation.

Applicants were whittled down through assessment of written submissions and their résumés, followed by an interview selection process. All 12 of the ultimately successful students were from local universities.

The five business leaders they were assigned to shadow were all members of either the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) or the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA).

HKIE president Raymond Chan explains what he sees as the appeal of the scheme. "The Classified Post's Shadow a CEO Programme teams students and fresh graduates up with senior executives so that they can gain important insights into how business is run at the top," he says.

"Successful candidates [working with these executives] got a unique shadowing opportunity to experience the daily lives of engineering professionals, network with top-notch business people and understand what life is like in the industry, while getting a clearer picture of their own career goals and learning about a real working environment," Chan says.

Two engineering executives took part in the programme: Victor Cheung, director of J Roger Preston, and Joseph Choi, managing director of Hsin Chong Construction.

Meanwhile, HKICPA executive director Jonathan Ng explains that the three business leaders selected from his institute represent the diversity of the accountancy profession. He says that Philip Tsai, audit partner with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu; George Hongchoy, CEO of The Link Management; and Richard Tse, vice-president of finance and corporate services at Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, represent accountants in practice, in business, and in statutory government bodies, respectively.

He says the students shadowing this trio were able to see what their daily working lives were like, the type of people they meet and the way they think. "I hope they can learn some personal skills and pick up some management tips - things you can't learn from reading a book," Ng says.

Ng speaks from experience when he says that while students taking part have a long way to go to reach similar levels, such shadowing can be a very powerful way to inspire young talent. "One of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in the accountancy profession was because I was very much inspired by a meeting with a senior figure in the industry," he says.

Both Ng and Chan recognise the role the Shadow a CEO Programme can play in raising the awareness of their respective industries among students pondering career choices.

"We want to send a positive message to all the young talent out there," Ng says. "[Accountancy] is a very exciting profession, given what's going on in Hong Kong and the mainland - the industry is booming. We want to let them know we don't just spend our time looking at numbers. We are business advisers, covering consultancy, insolvency and taxation."

Chan hopes "more young talent can be attracted to the engineering industry so that a sustainable talent pool can be developed".