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Chinese firms drive careers forward with new opportunities
The growth of Chinese businesses in Hong Kong paves the way for candidates who are keen to advance their careers and take on new challenges. In a recent survey conducted by specialist recruitment company Michael Page, approximately 3,000 Hong Kong professionals and management leaders who work for Chinese companies said they are pleased with the opportunities presented to them as well as their salary and medical packages.
The survey found that 20% of candidates chose to work for Chinese companies because of significant opportunities given to work on new projects, while 18% sought higher salaries. Two in three Chinese companies are willing to offer 11-20% above market rate to secure good candidates, and seven in 10 candidates surveyed said that they were happy with their packages.
Marty Cheung, Assistant to the CEO at New Future International ranks among the 20% of candidates who chose to join Hong Kong-based Chinese firms for the challenges and opportunities they offer.
“Chinese companies give you the opportunity to do a lot of different things. Before I joined this company, I was a trader for a private bank, a project manager and an HR office manager, so this has enabled me to take on a variety of jobs across a number of fields, giving me an opportunity to keep learning,” he said.
“In my first six months, I already have very interesting projects on hand. I am not a person who likes to sit in the office. I look forward to starting new projects, because each one is different. With each project, I will need to do research, and as a result, I learn a great deal.” Both Cheung’s willingness to learn and open mindset, play important roles in advancing his career.
Open mindsets advance careers
Regional Director of Michael Page Hong Kong, Olga Yung, is a firm believer in the importance of having that open mind and possessing the willingness to learn.“Candidates with more openness to changes, with the ability to adapt and to adjust to different types of people and environment tend to adjust better at Chinese companies. I encourage my candidates to think of it as a learning process that allows them to adapt to a different environment. Whilst nobody likes change, it is a good learning experience and will also help them improve on their own Chinese language skills, and arguably better equip them for future roles given how a majority of companies with strong hiring capacity are with Chinese players these days.”
On the flip side, Chinese leaders are also willing to learn from candidates who present valid ideas that could potentially lead to positive change and improve efficiency. The Michael Page survey shows that 82% of candidates felt that their leadership team made efforts to adopt an international working style. Cheung also discovered that his own employer showed willingness to listen and consider his ideas.
“When you first join a company, I think it’s important to spend time observing and understanding the way they do things,” he said. “In the first month, I followed what they were doing. In the second month, after picking up their company culture, I presented new proposals for how to accomplish tasks much more quickly and efficiently, and gave them time to consider. By the third month, they were willing to test out my recommendations for better solutions.”
Language bridges cultures
Cheung, with his experience having worked in Mainland China before, understands the two cultures well.
“If you only understand Hong Kong culture without Chinese culture, you won’t get it,” he said. “Prior to this company, I worked in Shantou and Huizhou, China, with frequent travels to Shanghai and Beijing where I had the opportunity to speak Mandarin. If you know the language, you will definitely understand much more.”
Yung agrees that language is paramount for success at a Chinese firm and advises Hong Kong professionals to take the time to learn Mandarin.
“Candidates who are truly not proficient in Mandarin or struggle with the language are usually not a good fit with these type of clients,” she said. “Day-to-day, they will struggle in terms of communicating themselves properly and will also struggle to connect with their immediate boss or colleagues. Language plays a huge part in everyone’s work on a daily basis.”
New demand for specialists
While Cheung may be a jack of all trades and his skillsets are highly valued at his firm, there are Chinese companies who are looking for candidates who specialise in one particular field.
Ellen Lai, Director at Page Personnel Hong Kong says there is an exciting new trend now among Chinese firms who are on the lookout for specialists.
“Unlike traditional companies who are letting go of product specialists, Chinese firms are looking for specialists. For Chinese companies setting up from scratch, they will need to hire product specialists and project teams to help them launch and set up different departments. They are looking for experienced people. They want to hire a department head to set up departments for them. This has created new demand in the Hong Kong market.”
Are Chinese firms stable?
Stability is a major concern among candidates. According to the Michael Page survey, 72% of Hong Kong professionals said they were worried about the longevity of Chinese firms.
To allay concerns, Cheung recommends candidates do their homework and research the background of Chinese companies in advance.
“It’s really important to understand the direction of a company before you join. Understand their goals, and if you like what they plan to achieve, then stay with that company and work hard,” Cheung said.
We have recently conducted a study and looked at the migration of candidates and their motivations behind working for Chinese companies. Click here to find out more.