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The topical seminars at the Career Forum were a trove of information for those in attendance

Published on Saturday, 14 Apr 2018
Elsie Cheung, COO of the South China Morning Post, in conversation with Annie Cheung, general manager, Peoplebank (Photos: Howard Choi and Chungy Wong)
Tommy Chow, manager, ICT-Clusters at HKSTP, speaking during the Classified Post Hackathon briefing session
Stanley Yau, HR and administration director at HK Express, outlining job opportunities in aviation
Recruitment specialists Peoplebank were on hand to give tailor-made CV advice to Career Forum visitors

Now in its ninth edition, the recent Classified Post Career Forum once again provided an opportunity for aspiring professionals to discuss career options and graduate training programmes with government departments and more than 30 private employers representing a broad range of industry sectors. In addition to one-on-one CV consultation provided by recruitment firm Peoplebank, topical seminars from industry leaders covered a wide array of topics ranging from aviation and human resources to careers in a media industry which is being revolutionised by digital technologies.

It was also an opportunity to hear from companies taking part in the Classified Post’s regular Shadow  a CEO programme, in which successful young candidates get to work alongside a leading executive for three days.

At a time when the news media landscape and the way that media is consumed is rapidly evolving, Elsie Cheung, chief operating officer at the South China Morning Post (SCMP) outlined to Career Forum attendees how the SCMP is transitioning from a traditional print media company to a “digital first” organisation. During her “Growing a Career in an Innovative and Transformative Media Company” presentation, Cheung also advised jobseekers that they should look for purpose in the careers they choose. “If you have a purpose it gives you the reason and the energy to push further to achieve more,” Cheung said. “As today’s generation of graduate students enters the workforce, it is important to maintain an open mindset and be adaptable to change.”

Citing the SCMP as an example, Cheung said open and adaptive mindsets have played a crucial role during the transition which the company, more than a century old, has been undergoing, with the aim of becoming a global news organisation with a defined purpose to “elevate thought” by leading the global conversation about China. “The transition has enabled the SCMP to reach a global audience through mobile and social media platforms,” explained Cheung, pointing out how traditional printed newspapers have geographical distribution limits.

During an onstage interview with Annie Cheung, general manager of recruitment company, Peoplebank, Cheung also explained how the SCMP’s “digital first” focus has added fresh elements of culture to the company. She said, for example, that new purpose-built office facilities, which include open-plan meeting areas, encourage collaboration and teamwork. From a news reporting perspective, Cheung said that by using mobile technology devices, SCMP reporters can report news events at any time, from any location.

 In terms of careers, Cheung said that, in addition to news reporting, the SCMP’s “digital first” transformation had created new technology-related career opportunities.

She also highlighted how the SCMP career development philosophy focuses opportunities on individual development instead of for the benefit of the company.

 “We allow employees to identify and pursue their interests by supporting them with training programmes designed by the SCMP’s human resources department and coaching and mentoring provided by senior management,” said Cheung, who during her 16 years with the SCMP has held senior management roles across various business units including sales, marketing, advertising, circulation, staff training and more recently as part of the team driving the “digital first” transformation.

Ahead of the inaugural Classified Post 24-hour Hackathon, which took place at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP), on March 24 and 25, the Career Forum also featured a briefing session. The Hackathon is a new initiative launched by Classified Post with the aim of enthusing young minds to seeks ways to innovate solutions that solve challenges that exist in the real-world of business

To help teams to prepare to take part in the Hackathon, representatives from the SCMP, the premium partners and supporting organisations offered tips and insights about the type of creative solutions the judges would be looking for to solve real-world challenges in the insurance and media sectors. Andrew Chan, a digital media analyst with the SCMP, said that, as a “digital first” media organisation, the SCMP was seeking solutions to challenges such as how to assist editors to evaluate daily and weekly page views and manage online content with actionable items presented in a “dashboard” model.

As the main sponsor of the Classified Post Hackathon and a committed supporter of technology innovation, Mark Seifried, chief technology officer with AIA, said the “social listening” challenge set by AIA would require teamwork and skills-sharing to translate data and natural language processing available in the public domain, into models that analyse the online sentiments expressed by Hong Kong citizens about the things they find important to them. “It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of data in the public domain, so developing models that make sense of sentiments expressed online is an interesting and exciting challenge,” said Seifried.

Meanwhile, Tommy Chow, manager, ICT-Clusters at the HKSTP, outlined how the recently opened data studio located in the HKSTP, would host the data sets of participating companies that hackathon teams can access to build their solutions on the designated application programming interface (API). Chow also explained how the HKSTP data studio is positioned to play a key role in helping to accelerate the development of Hong Kong’s smart city applications and solutions. He said the data studio acts as a central point for aggregating data produced by private companies and the government. “Data is the foundation of smart cities,” said Chow. He added that data also provides the key to bring Hong Kong businesses, government and individuals together to collaborate in a way beneficial to all.

During the afternoon seminar session, Stanley Yau, HR and administration director at HK Express, shared his experience on choosing a career and summarised with three key principles – function, industry and company. “It’s comparable to investing on the stock exchange because would-be investors must find out how promising the industry is over the next 10 years and whether it will register annual growth,” he said. “Moreover, you would feel happy if both the company’s culture and value proposition match perfectly with your expectations.

“The birth of low-cost carriers (LCC) in the aviation industry gives far more choice to travellers as they can now fly to destinations that traditional carriers do not serve. Price-wise, such flights are more affordable while competitors are even forced to lower their fares. In turn, this opens up opportunities for Hongkongers to take more frequent trips. So far, LCCs’ market share in China accounts for only about 9 per cent while the world’s average is already 28 per cent. But in Hong Kong it’s only 4 per cent, meaning we have immense room for growth.”

As Hong Kong’s only home-grown LCC, HK Express is a young company in fast-growing mode. Last year its passenger numbers leapt by 30 per cent to reach nearly four million and this year it is estimated to exceed that figure, said Yau. “As our clientele are mostly younger generation we have invested in IT systems to simplify and speed up our service processes. Instead of bundle-style offers, we present boxes of choice for them to take their pick. Looking ahead, we’ll definitely roll out new routes to Northern Japan in the second half of 2018. This follows a meeting with Japanese Consulate officials who recommended several potential cities that are favoured by local Japanese but lack international direct flight connections.”

With around 1,000 staff, HK Express’ scale is not large and its corporate structure is a flat non-bureaucratic one. Its open office style means faster and closer communications. Unlike traditional companies with limited job promotions, it offers career advancement to internal staff first.

Moreover, generous staff perks offer free tickets to parents and in-laws. In addition to its current 300 back-of-house staff, 70 to 100 new office positions are set to be created. The airline is also proud of being recognised for the third consecutive year by AirlineRatings.com as one of the world’s  “Top 10 Safest Low Cost Airlines for 2018”.

Senior Police Inspector Gloria Leung kicked off her career talk with old and new promotional videos from 1994 and 2017, respectively, vividly depicting the extensive organisational structures of the force whose duties cover air, land and sea.

 “One thing that remains unchanged in combatting crime is reliance on collective effort and support from citizens,” said Leung. “But our job nature has followed changes in our society as shown in the new video that captures IT equipment like memory sticks, which hardly existed in the 1990s.”

Outlining the requirements and selection process for inspector and police constable (PC) posts, Leung advised candidates to build a good physique due to the strict physical fitness test involved, i.e. vertical jump, hand grip strength test and muscular strength.

“As a PC deals with on-the-ground operations, physical fitness is a number-one priority and the fitness test always comes before interviews,” she said. “Candidates wishing to become an inspector should be university graduates and must pass six sections, namely written examination, extended interview, the final interview board, physical fitness test, integrity checks and medical examination. Only after clearing these is the candidate admitted to the 36-week training course.”

Police work provides all candidates with a unique experience as there are different types of professional training opportunities plus a promising career path. There are also excellent welfare benefits such as married staff quarters and access to the Police Sports and Recreation Club on Prince Edward Road. “After graduating from cadet school, a candidate’s training doesn’t stop there as different types of local and overseas training opportunities now become available for them,” Leung added.

 “For instance, overseas training for intelligence exchanges takes place in the US and Australia. In terms of job postings, it’s not rare to see teams stationed in various Government departments such as the Tobacco Control Office of Health Department. The Police were also involved in the response to the SARS crisis in 2003 when we were called to escort and facilitate transfer of suspected cases to undergo quarantine in Sai Kung.”

Since the Training Wing was replaced by the Police College in 2006, the qualifications awarded are professional police qualifications independently accredited by the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework. Though they are not equivalent to having obtained the related academic qualifications (associate degree or bachelor degree), they meet the respective standards in respect of the Police vocational training and learning programmes.

As the last speaker at the Career Forum, Virginia Choi, an executive council member of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resources Management, delivered interesting tips and industry insights for those who would like to develop a professional career in HR management.

From the outset, she reassured higher job security for HR in an era of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. “Unlike jobs with the highest replacement risks such as accountants, insurance underwriters and real estate brokers, HR has one of the lowest replacement risks owing to its job nature requiring staff to talk and work with different people,” she said.

 “Before entering the profession, ask yourself whether you like talking to people. The common traits and abilities for HR also include being interested in people, being curious, enjoying good language proficiency and presentation skills, plus being collaborative and customer-focused.

“Moreover, along the way one has to build on one’s strengths and think to be an HR specialist or generalist,” said Choi. “Originally, I was a social worker but then had a chance to get involved in training and I became a generalist in HR, managing all-round HR functions. Indeed, HR also plays a pivotal role in building corporate culture through communications with staff and they learn culture change thanks to competition among corporates.”

For years, the Institute has been working hard to build a professional standards model for industry and it will be published soon. Choi highlighted key cornerstones – knowledge in professional areas, experience and capability.

She pointed out that, while business knowledge comes first, professional ethics are paramount since HR staff know personal information about all staff.

In terms of a career pathway, it’s not easy and one has to do it step by step. However, as the market changes, promotion is getting easier. She advises aspirants to start from HR clerk or assistant at foundation level, then move steadily to the manager grade of professional level and finally end up at director grade of the master level.

Before wrapping up the presentation, Choi and her mentee enacted a five-minute role play on stage. It featured a job interview scenario to show the type of questions HR managers would raise and how interviewees might best respond.

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