In the field of management training and executive development, Kelvin Fung can certainly claim to have made his mark. In the course of the last 15 years, he has personally trained or coached more than 15,000 supervisors and managers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Now the executive director of LMI Academy, Mr Fung previously held a series of managerial roles in the training divisions of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cathay Pacific Airways. Since then, though, he has specialised in delivering tailor-made development programmes and has even branched out into setting up challenging corporate e-Learning projects.
Originally, he got into the business almost by accident. While still an undergraduate, he went along to a public programme in which his potential was spotted by a soon-to-retire trainer and, not long afterwards, he embarked on a career as a training consultant.
As a natural teacher, Mr Fung still likes to spend up to three days a week in the classroom, but has inevitably found management responsibilities and contact with clients take up an increasing amount of his time. Often, proposals for new projects have to be written late in the evening or at weekends.
Some people are resistant to training in the beginning, but they later thank me
Therefore, he plans to modify his schedule and cut back on his own teaching commitments by training up a larger team of consultants. This will allow more time for strategic considerations, planning improvements, and keeping up with general reading about changes in the sector.
"Young people today are highly intelligent and versatile, and can attain great success provided they show enthusiasm and initiative," Mr Fung says. However, he points out, they still need a high level of presentation, communication and social skills because, in career terms, so much depends on how well we deal with other people.
With the right kind of training, though, it is possible to learn about overcoming common obstacles and conquering certain fears. After that, it becomes easier, for example, to make decisions, assume new responsibilities, or apply one's creativity in the workplace. When this happens, Mr Fung can achieve the desired outcome both for his corporate clients and for the individual trainees participating in LMI's programmes.
He emphasises that every course should reflect the client's specific needs and therefore give them the optimal return on investment. For instance, Mr Fung offers the well-known "Thinkertoys" programme which is specially designed to promote creativity and is based on the belief that "every big business begins with a brilliant idea".
"Some people are resistant to training in the beginning, but they later thank me via email for the positive impact the course has made and what it has taught them about their own potential," he says. "They may also enquire about further training possibilities, which I believe is a reward in itself."
When assessing potential recruits for teaching positions, Mr Fung may ask them to give a "live demonstration" of their abilities or to submit a videotape. This, he finds, is the best way to see if they have the talent to deliver LMI's curriculum of management skills training, experiential learning and web-based solutions, which is now the largest of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Any kind of training can have a lifelong impact, but it takes time and commitment
- Training consultants should be assessed on their individual merits and what they contribute, not by their qualifications or the reputation of their company
- The best programmes integrate essential skills and knowledge with experiential learning activities which can help to motivate trainees
- Companies should see training as a form of investment which enhances employee performance in the long run
To take full advantage of opportunities in mainland China, corporate trainers should understand the market, complete the required licensing formalities, be fluent in Putonghua, and realise that it may be necessary to modify the style of teaching.
From the strategic point of view, Mr Fung says that Hong Kong possesses all the advantages to act as a bridge for Chinese companies to learn more about western management techniques. Consultants in Hong Kong generally have extensive exposure to international training concepts and they can use this as a competitive edge by customising such knowledge to suit the needs of the China market.