There was much more for attendees to do at the Career Forum than just visit the exhibition booths. Prospective jobseekers were able to interact with speakers in a topical forum session, too. Four professionals from private and government sectors were invited on stage to share insights about their industry and the career prospects it offered.
A fast-growing start-up which originated in Hong Kong, Lynk has provided professional services for investment and management consulting firms around the globe for five years. Tapping the employment opportunities driven by start-ups, Christine O’Brien, the vice-president for client solutions at Lynk summarised differences between working at a startup and a large corporation. “In terms of the working environment, you are surrounded by an international team at Lynk,” she said. “For instance, our Hong Kong office is home to 15 nationalities, including employees from Hong Kong, China, Korea and Indonesia. This allows you to cultivate an open mind, as well as develop an inclusive approach to the workplace. This is better than working with an international team over the internet,” she said.
“Structure-wise, it is a flat hierarchy rather than a pyramid with massive numbers of junior staff at the bottom, so there’s no need to go one layer up for approvals or final decisions. In start-ups, everyone has an equal say, and there is no time for the internal bureaucracy to get involved in the outcomes. A start-up is a high-energy place with a ‘get things done’ attitude when it comes to expanding the company’s market share,” she said. “Start-ups don’t have to be small, and you can get involved in different roles and tasks within company. For instance, a project manager helped the HR team to train recent arrivals. The exposure that can be achieved is far beyond that of a big corporation. There is more opportunity to make impactful choices and move your career forward at a higher speed,” she said.
She cautioned that those working at start-ups should be prepared for a steep learning curve. People learn by doing, but they need support at multiple levels to learn effectively. Exposure to the workings of management, perhaps even at CEO level, helps employees to understand more about the company mission. “Though a start-up’s vision can be rock solid, the company is prone to structural changes while refining its tactics and processes,” she said. “Employees will find a lot of ambiguity in job titles, if they expect a strong delineation of roles. There can be different structures in terms of the way people are managed, and the processes they undertake. That can sometimes lead to growing pains in a start-up.” Corporations can be fluid too, she added. “You may experience some of these changes at a big corporation, too, because structural changes may occur due to financial considerations. So there are things to think about when joining corporations or start-ups,” she said.
Hong Kong Police Force
The Hong Kong Police Force has distinguished itself as one of the oldest, yet most modern, police forces in the world. Sergeant Wong Chi-ming updated the audience on the police force’s role and its diverse work, which includes marine police, the dog unit, the Counter Terrorism Response unit, the Commercial Crime Bureau, and even the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Bureau. “Police jobs are not just confined to street patrols, and this explains why the force calls for people with different talents to join the family. Young graduates are spoiled for choice when it comes to their area of work, and there are benefits, too. For example, members of the force have access to the Police Sports and Recreation Club and the soon-to-be-completed police married quarters in the New Territories, with around 2,000 units,” Wong said.
“Recruitment processes for police constables and inspectors are different, so candidates can base their decisions on their personal interests and strengths when applying,” said Wong. Both positions require the same standards in physique, eyesight and physical fitness. Videos were played about the type of physical fitness tests conducted, and their requirements, and some even contained training tips. The key differences between the position of police inspector and police constable include benefits, academic qualifications, and remuneration. As the inspector position focuses on management, the salary is higher.
During the selection process, leadership exercises, like team building, are conducted in groups. Each group member has a chance to be the leader, give orders, and plan how to complete the task. An understanding of Hongkongers is the key to success in the police. “As the force, we serve the people, and it’s our duty to be there and extend assistance to resolve problems and whenever and wherever we are called. So anyone who enrolls in the police force must have the appropriate character, and an understanding of people,” Wong said.
Icicle Group Holdings said talent is the company’s main asset. Anita Vachani, head of corporate development, mused that about 90 per cent of her time is spent finding out how to ensure staff work happily and make their work relevant. “Cultivating a growth mindset is very important to our company. It means finding a way to develop your skills and learn how to do things that you don’t know,” Vachani said. “We have to earn trust from other staff members, and vice versa. Trust can be fostered by means of balanced feedback that acknowledges what was done well, as well as what can be can improved. For instance, we have a daily 10-minute stand-up session to talk about the problems we face, the things we did yesterday, and what we are doing today. It’s a good way of enabling brief and concise communication. We do not intend to control or manipulate our talents, but we know that if they don’t succeed, we don’t succeed either,” said Vachani.
“In Chinese culture, people fear making a mistake because it always turns into a finger-pointing situation. But at Icicle, we provide a safe place to make mistakes. We get past the embarrassment and face the mistake openly. Mistakes are proof that you are trying, and lessons can be learned from them, so instead of pointing fingers at each other, our team members use their strengths to support weaknesses. This approach helps people solve problems and build better relationships,” said Vachani.
Icicle’s in-house Continuous Improvement Programme offers every staff member the opportunity to learn and improve. For example, Vachani sets a project for herself every three months. This could be taking a course to study statistics, or learning something about a new artificial intelligence machine. If a staff member lodges a complaint, he or she will be given a project to work out a solution to the issues. So there is always a room for progress via continuous improvement. As the world evolves, Vachani strongly advised employees to keep calm, open doors to new opportunities, and get into a “yes” mindset.
Logistics service Dachser Asia Pacific has 1,670 employees working in 49 locations including Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia, with its regional head office located in Hong Kong. The regional management team’s two-year management trainee programme recently marked its third intake. It’s characterised by on-the-job training which rotates through major business functions, along with executive coaching, guidance from managers, and classroom training. The trainees have opportunities to demonstrate their potential and capabilities by undertaking projects, and by making presentations and recommendations. “I like the job-rotation concept,” said trainee Remi Murciano, “as it provides a chance to see how different departments operate, as well as give an overview of the operations. So far, I have spent six months in Shanghai and Thailand,” she said.
“The comprehensive and structured career development impressed me,” said new recruit Sherry Liang. “The job rotation allowed me to accumulate knowledge from different offices, and another two-year job placement may also enhance my capability when handling projects with, for instance improved problem-solving skills. The diverse working experience proved invaluable to me,” Liang said.
The conversation sparked immense interest from the floor and the audience asked many questions. Students wondered if there were part-time jobs, or intern programmes, available, and Dachser said internship averages 10 to 15 students every year. When commenting on why logistics suits the young generation, Endy Chan, department head, air freight, air & sea logistics Asia Pacific, said, “Our industry is really open to young people. There is a lot of chance to travel, and to see different cultures, as we operate in many countries. The Middle East, China and Africa are all unique. We think globally and act locally,” Chan said.