Property / Construction

Fighting for the best talent

by Wendy Shair

Alex Kwan
executive vice president, Hong Kong
Photos: Courtesy of AECOM
Versatile engineering giant takes multi-disciplinary approach to talent management

Engineering expertise is crucial to the sustainable development of a vibrant, fast-paced city such as Hong Kong. As the demand for professionals in the field grows, high-performing graduates face good career prospects.

"Thanks to the quality education offered by Hong Kong's academia, we expect local engineers to continue to play a vital role in infrastructure development across Asia," says Cassady Winston, director, human resources, Asia, AECOM.

A global provider of professional technical and management support services, AECOM currently employs about 45,000 staff worldwide. "We expect Asia to continue to develop quickly over the next decade. As long as Hong Kong carries on producing strong engineering graduates with the language and intellectual skills necessary for work locally as well as abroad, the future looks good," notes Mr Winston, who anticipates an increased need for civil engineers in Hong Kong and the mainland. "We believe it is important to invest in our people on an ongoing basis," he adds.

The company is currently recruiting engineers, designers and planners for many of its operations across Asia, and has ambitious growth targets for the next few years. Finding the right people will be fundamental.

"AECOM has a strong track record of exploring and developing the full potential of local talent and we're committed to hiring university students for internships and entry-level positions," Mr Winston notes. The company provides graduate engineers with various means to advance their soft skills, in addition to training for approved professional accreditation programmes such as the HKIE Scheme A training. "Our graduates receive training allowances and special study leave. We also help them to broaden their exposure and gain experience by assigning them to work on-site and, sometimes, overseas," says Mr Winston.

Graduate engineers are encouraged to participate in diverse and exciting projects, and the company's workforce has substantial mobility across the region. "Our people have a fantastic platform to learn more about Asia's diverse cultures and local issues. They also get the chance to make a real and lasting impact on the continent's fast-developing infrastructure," he emphasises.

AECOM provides a comprehensive range of services for public and private clients. Graduates working at the company therefore get an international, multi-disciplinary grounding, which allows them to develop a thorough understanding of the specifics of their own areas of expertise, and to learn from—and work with—their counterparts in other disciplines. Mr Winston remarks: "We play an important role in the modernisation of Asia, which is a great opportunity and responsibility for all of us."

Experience and standards

In light of its integrated suite of services, the company believes it will benefit from strong opportunities for growth in the civil engineering sector. Its engineers are working on many large-scale and high-profile projects, ensuring on-the-job training and valuable local and overseas exposure.

Aside from this, AECOM employees get annual educational leave to further their professional knowledge. They may also take advantage of an array of in-house training programmes.

The city's civil engineers have a long history of working with clients from around the world and are familiar with dealing with customers from different backgrounds and global projects, notes Alex Kwan, executive vice president, Hong Kong, AECOM.

"They're used to adopting international standards and requirements, and this helps to facilitate and speed up the project delivery process," Mr Kwan explains. "We are capable of providing integrated services throughout the construction process, from feasibility studies to preliminary design and ultimately detailed design and construction supervision. While doing the procurement, our engineers will also consider the impact on the environment and sustainability of certain materials."

Hong Kong's highly skilled engineering professionals have a reputation for being well versed in project management and ensuring that ventures are completed on time and within budget. "For this particular reason, we are optimistic about the outlook for the sector," Mr Kwan concludes.

Maintaining momentum

  • Hong Kong engineers play vital roles in Asia's infrastructure development
  • Soaring demand for engineers, designers and planners for regional operations
  • Graduate engineers benefit from technical and soft-skills training
  • Employees enjoy substantial mobility across the region

Taken from Career Times 4 March 2011, B6

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