A university degree is often considered to be the only way to establishing and maintaining professionalism. A competitive culture often equates this qualification with a propitious future. Nevertheless, there are many jobs available that do not require a university degree. The position of service engineer is a perfect illustration of a promising career that requires only a Form Five education. "Despite this, the high level of professionalism among practitioners in the industry remains as competitive as other commercial fields," says Yager Chow, district service engineer I, network operation field service at City Telecom (Hong Kong) Limited, who is in charge of the technician teams in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.
Mr Chow began his career with City Telecom in 2002 as a contract technician for Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd (HKBN), a subsidy company of City Telecom. Within one year, which included comprehensive training provided by the company in technical skills and servicing techniques, he became a permanent staff member and was promoted to the rank of team leader. Only a few short years after that, he advanced to his current position as a district service engineer. "Four years passed by quickly and I can still recall my reasons for joining HKBN: well-rounded training, excellent job security and a challenging work environment," he says.
As a district service engineer, Mr Chow's responsibilities go beyond ensuring the smoothness and effectiveness of customers' maintenance and installation orders in his district. He is also required to guarantee service quality, aiming to achieve total customer satisfaction. "My typical day begins with a meeting with the 20 members of my team. We discuss our duties for the day and I distribute specific tasks. Throughout the day, I randomly visit the sites where my team are operating and conduct condition inspections for quality assurance, at the same time ensuring that orders are completed on time," he explains.
He adds that his job is far from being routine. There are various challenges and unexpected situations to deal with. "Since we are constantly interacting with different customers and operating in diverse environments, unexpected events occur and we must learn to resolve any issues as a team."
Mr Chow also interacts with clients on a regular basis. "One of my key responsibilities is to visit the management offices of the Hong Kong Housing Authority and Housing Department in different government estates to facilitate better relationships and effective communications with their managers and ensure the smoothness of our operations," he explains.
Though not needing a degree, Mr Chow's job does require specialised training. "Since our technicians are in direct contact with customers, to uphold our corporate image we must undergo a wide range of training programmes on various areas such as briefing, negotiation and coaching skills," he says. "In addition, our company offers full sponsorship for various external programmes, such as those held by the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Council. Once a staff member is promoted to district service engineer, full sponsorship for diploma programmes on computer applications is also available."
For Mr Chow, the most important requirement for working and succeeding in the field is personality. "This profession is not difficult to enter. Since we are a fast-growing company, we put more emphasis in our screening on personal character and attributes, rather than academic qualifications. The people we recruit must be interested in PC applications, and be action-oriented, smart and capable. Most importantly, they must be willing to learn. Promotion in our company is also in line with this concept: advancement depends on personal achievements and hard work, not simply length of service," he says.
Telecommunications is an extremely competitive market where technologies advance by the minute and competitors react quickly. People working in the field must stay innovative so as to keep abreast of the latest developments, particularly in customer service. "Although this is such a competitive industry, I enjoy the process of building good quality services with my team. The job satisfaction that comes when the needs of my happy customers are fulfilled is indescribable. With HKBN, my horizon has expanded beyond telecommunications. Besides acquiring technical skills, I have also become well-versed in customer servicing and managerial skills, which adds a rich dimension to my career," Mr Chow says.