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MT Opportunities

Building on stable foundations

by Grace Chan

Leading developer prepares young talent for a bright future in business

As a city characterised by its built-up landscape and iconic high-rises, Hong Kong is not only a property developer's dream but also an ideal career launch pad for a great number of new graduates looking to build up a sky-scraping career.

Sino Group's 18-month management trainee (MT) programme, which has been running since 2003, aims to place such talented young career starters on a solid career path, guiding them to become future leaders in the business arena.

"Ongoing learning is an integral part of our MT programme. Trainees are provided with fresh perspectives which help them to approach professional maturity progressively," says Alice Ip, Associate director, group human resources, human resources department, Sino Land Company Limited.

Aside from honing the MTs' professional expertise, the training also prepares the ground for them to manage projects and build a wide people network via a meticulously balanced blend of formal classroom sessions and real-life practice in specific business, management and personal-development areas.

Every year, the company handpicked only 10 to 20 candidates out of more than a thousand applications. "With a total staff complement of about 10,000, we understand the need to cultivate a strong talent pipeline. The MT initiative provides recruits with all-round skills sets, preparing them for general management roles in 10 to 12 years' time," Ms Ip notes.

In addition to its strong presence in Hong Kong and Singapore, the group is also expanding its business across the border. "Therefore, we also recruit in mainland China, with the selected graduates joining their Hong Kong counterparts for training," she says, adding that the company has scheduled interviews with students from top mainland educational institutions, such as Shanghai's Fudan University and Peking University.

Structured training

At the core of the MT programme is a job-rotation schedule that introduces trainees to three of the company's key functions: marketing and corporate communications, leasing and property services. "Hands-on learning is essential, since this is how they're familiarised with our group's business and core values, particularly when it comes to excellence in customer service," Ms Ip remarks.

MTs are given the chance to participate in real-life projects such as property sales and handovers. "Through extensive exposure, they learn new skills and expand their horizons. As a result, we have an energetic new generation of employees who can think innovatively and contribute fresh ideas, for example, on using the internet to connect with our customers and market our products."

At the end of each attachment, the newcomers are asked to deliver presentations on their reflections and recommendations to the group's top executives. She adds, "Apart from learning, they're also expected to contribute. Our senior management team takes their proposals seriously and, in return, provides them with feedback to help them advance."

Participants are paired with senior managers who act as mentors, sharing their experience and providing advice and career guidance. "Trainees also attend seminars with their superiors, as part of the corporation's commitment to grooming them for future leadership positions," Ms Ip points out.

The programme concludes with a week-long study trip to a mainland city, where trainees are charged with drawing up individual business proposals, incorporating their own observations and suggestions. This, again, culminates in a presentation to the group's top leaders, demonstrating their business acumen, analytical skills and the learning outcomes.

Those that successfully complete the programme are assigned graduation placements with one of the group's business areas and placed on a career fast track. "Considering the steep learning curve, we're looking for graduates with a can-do attitude, determination and a positive mindset," Ms Ip emphasises.

Mandy Lo, management trainee (2009 intake)

Qualification:
Bachelor of Journalism and Communication
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Attachment:
Leasing, sales, marketing and corporate communications

Reasons for enrolment:
"One of Sino's core values is to strive for customer service excellence. This involves effective communication with different stakeholders, including government bodies, property buyers and many other parties. I believe the group offers a challenging career platform and I can put my university education into practice. Most of all, I was attracted by the extensive exposure offered during the course of training."

Best experience:
"On completion of each attachment, I gave a presentation to the top management team, including our group executive director. Their constructive feedback made me feel valued and trusted. I was also assigned various ad hoc projects, including the handover of the Lake Silver apartment development and the sales launch of the landmark Hermitage project. The latter showed me the importance of teamwork, as I saw colleagues from different departments lending a hand during the launch and our leasing general manager even took the initiative to control the crowd. This was really impressive."

Advice:
"It's important to have a can-do attitude in spite of the challenges, as every difficulty presents a valuable opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of the property development business. Also, a customer-oriented service attitude is essential to success in this field."

Brian Choi, management trainee (2010 intake)

Qualification:
Bachelor of Journalism and Communication
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Attachment:
Property management

Reasons for enrolment:
"Considering Sino's position as a market leader and its diverse business portfolios, this is definitely the ideal workplace for someone who wants to grow and develop a career in property development. I was also attracted to the rotational training structure, which enables me to get all-round insight into the different facets of the business including property sales, leasing and property management in an 18-month span. Above all, property development is one of Hong Kong's core economic pillars, presenting ample career opportunity."

Best experience:
"Since joining the programme this July, my first three-month attachment involved working as a property officer at Pacific Palisades, one of our luxury residential developments. During this stint, I had a chance to manage tenants' complaints, maintenance and repairs, as well as contract renewals. I learnt to see things from our customers' perspectives and exceed their expectations. In addition to boosting my industry know-how, my role as an MT also helped me to hone my interpersonal skills and increase my self-confidence."

Advice:
"During the final panel interview, I was asked if I'd accept the position of marketing assistant, rather than management trainee. Without hesitation, I said I'd accept the offer, as I always saw Sino Group as an employer of choice. So, I advise candidates to answer the questions truthfully."

Taken from Career Times 26 November 2010, A15


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