|Clement Sun, executive director|
Elec & Eltek Group
Photo: Dickie Tam
Frequent job-hopping may lead to short-term pay increases, but it is not necessarily the ideal route towards ultimate success, as Clement Sun's long and rewarding tenure with one corporation shows.
Executive director of Elec & Eltek Group since 2007, Mr Sun joined the company in 1983, soon after receiving his diploma in production and industrial engineering from the Hong Kong Polytechnic (currently The Hong Kong Polytechnic University).
"The 1980s was a golden decade for the industrial sector in Hong Kong. When I graduated, I had already received a few job offers, but Elec & Eltek was a natural choice, given its business scale and scope," Mr Sun recalls.
The company, a leading manufacturer of electronic components including double-sided and multi-layered printed circuit boards (PCBs), with a workforce totalling more than 10,000, now has eight manufacturing plants across the region. "Working for such a large organisation gave me myriad exciting opportunities and broad exposure. No two days are the same in this job," he says.
Mr Sun's first position with the company was as quality assurance engineer in the PCB division. "I led a team of four inspectors and technicians to ensure outgoing quality after final inspection. For someone without a university degree then, it was a good start."
A broader perspective
Within six years, he was promoted to the position of quality assurance manager and two years later transferred to the company's plant in Thailand. "My management and interpersonal skills were tested when I had to work with people from a different cultural and language background," he concedes.
The first challenge was to learn the Thai language. "I was part of a group of about 20 Hong Kong people that took classes twice a week and practiced the language at various restaurants. That was the fun part," Mr Sun notes.
On the practical side, there was much to learn, he remarks. It took him a while to adapt to the Thai way of doing things, but he cherished the career opportunity and enriching life experience.
After seven years, Mr Sun returned to Hong Kong in 1997, where new responsibilities awaited, including overseeing the company's master planning department. His new role provided a fresh perspective on manufacturing operations, from managing sales orders and preparing materials to running production schedules. "Before I took on this position, I knew nothing about planning. Luckily, I was given the chance to learn from scratch," he reveals.
New horizons opened up when Mr Sun became quality assurance (QA) manager at Elec & Eltek's Guangzhou plant later that year. "Although it was a different working environment to Hong Kong, communication was not a problem, since we all spoke Mandarin and shared the same culture," he says. He also managed the planning department, working closely with his mainland colleagues.
He was promoted to quality assurance vice president for the group at the turn of the millennium.
Equipped with plenty of operational and management expertise, Mr Sun became head of the Guangzhou operation in 2002 and continued steadily up the management ladder, taking up his current role about four years ago. He oversees all activities related to the corporation's manufacturing facilities in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Thailand.
Looking back two decades after joining Elec & Eltek, Mr Sun reflects that he had never felt the desire to join another company. "Our management team has been with the organisation for an average of more than 20 years and I believe that this level of loyalty is the result of the great scope for personal and professional growth we enjoyed over the years," he notes.
With the demand for PCBs—used in anything from small electronic applications to large instruments—increasing rapidly across the globe, the industry prospects are looking good. "We can't see anything replacing PCBs in the next 50 years." However, he is quick to point out that the job requires a mindset that is focused on attention to detail, and that good technical knowledge is vital.
With a personal motto of "back to basics", Mr Sun advises young jobseekers and workers to persevere, in spite of inevitable change and challenge. "We face challenge every day, since there are 40 to 50 chemical processes involved in the production of PCBs."
A seasoned profession, Mr Sun sees the need to inject new blood into the company as well as the industry. Grooming the next generation of management talent is therefore a priority, and to achieve this, Elec & Eltek rolled out a three-year management trainee programme in 2007 with an aim to hire 25 aspiring individuals annually. "Last year, we took on 10," he says.
The new employees learn the ropes through stints in different business functions and also gain experience through visits to the firm's mainland and overseas sites.
"Applicants should be prepared to work in parts of mainland China outside the main centres. We're seeking competent and independent people that are committed to a career in the industrial sector," Mr Sun says.
Provided by Elec & Eltek Group, for reference only
Taken from Career Times 25 March 2011, B10