Sales / Marketing

Articulating key competence

by Isabella Lee

Sam Cheung, president
Photo: Courtesy of Englishtown

English proficiency offers a world of opportunities

In order for Hong Kong to maintain its position as a world city and remain competitive as a regional financial centre, it is essential that people are able to communicate effectively in the English language, particularly in commercial settings.

"Learning a foreign language means learning to communicate with people from other parts of the world. Simply being proficient in the language is therefore not enough. People must learn how to use it in the most effective way," says Sam Cheung, president, Englishtown.

With nearly 15 million users from more than 75 countries, Englishtown is backed by EF Education, the world's largest brick-and-mortar language institute. It is the largest specialist English-language training organisation in the world, with offices in Europe, Asia, North and South America.

The official language training services supplier for the recent Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Englishtown's method of instruction combines face-to-face lessons with social activities and an interactive iLab, giving students the chance learn and apply the language in a completely English environment.

The organisation has put US$50 million into developing and improving customised course materials and has also partnered with world-class facilities such as the highly regarded Harvard Business School Publishing to ensure outstanding product development.

Development opportunities

With more than 40 years of experience, the institution has more than 450 offices and schools across the globe and employs 27,000 professional teachers worldwide.

Locally, Englishtown has a dedicated team of course consultants to perform the school's sales functions, maintain good customer relations and participate in marketing activities and social events to help drive sales and customer referrals.

"To be a successful course consultant, candidates should be good team players who are proactive and sales-and performance-driven. They must also possess good communication skills and be able to work independently," Mr Cheung points out.

He adds that it is also important for recruits to adhere to Englishtown's core values. The organisation's employees work hard and play hard. This means that they are passionate about everything they do, live life to the full both at work and at home, and always strive for balance.

The organisation places a high premium on a positive attitude and entrepreneurial spirit, which are regarded as forces for good, and staff members are expected to be constructive in times of challenge and change, Mr Cheung notes.

"Detail is important. If you drop the ball, a participant's experience can be ruined. Stay on top of the little things, but never lose sight of the big picture," he advises, adding that the ultimate focus is on results.

The minimum requirement for sales professionals interested in joining the team is a diploma and three to five years of direct or consultative selling experience. Excellent communication and telephone skills plus computer and internet literacy are essential.

Sound financial judgment is an attribute. "Our team members must always think about effective cost management. This is not the same as cutting costs, because sometimes cost-consciousness actually means spending more on the right ideas," Mr Cheung stresses.

Structured careers

Englishtown offers new recruits excellent training opportunities. This includes participation in the EF orientation programme, which equips them with the organisation's core values right from the start. Meanwhile, department heads provide product and sales training to ensure that new employees quickly absorb essential business know-how.

Recruits embark on a structured career path with room to move not only vertically but also across products. A typical promotion route can take a course consultant from senior course consultant, assistant centre manager to centre manager and eventually to the position of sales director.

The right candidates are assured of long-term career development opportunities on a regional and global level. Employees who excel may find themselves working in overseas MBA or university programmes, or in financial or insurance products.

"We offer a strong and unique culture within a truly multinational company, where people can grow," Mr Cheung notes, adding that the organisation has a flat hierarchy with no office politics. "This essentially makes a difference to the working environment and the way employees feel about being part of the team," he concludes.


Taken from Career Times 05 September 2008, p. C4
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