Getting ahead in the world of business
by Nicolette Wong
Ambitious young professionals faced with workplace difficulties should persevere and position themselves to grab future opportunities
Most people encounter obstacles in their careers, but hard work and flexibility in tough times are crucial for long-term success. Speaking recently at CTgoodjobs' ninth Marvellous Ways to Sell Yourself seminar, former Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the Hong Kong SAR Frederick Ma stressed the importance of dedication and good interpersonal skills in the job market, while well-known Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao shared his insights on compromise as a means to defusing volatile situations.
Setbacks are part of the process to build confidence and competence, said Mr Ma, recalling the tremendous challenges he experienced at the age of 24 when he moved to New York to take up a position with Chase Manhattan Bank in 1976. Not only did he have to grapple with major cultural and business-environment differences, but his immediate supervisor was also extremely crucial of his performance.
But although he was later offered a chance to return to Asia, he chose to stay in the US. "I would've lost all confidence in my ability to succeed in future, if I'd given up at the time," he said. "I went to the office on weekends to study and do extra research. After a year, my manager recommended that I be promoted."
Mr Ma's career with the Hong Kong government presented more challenges. While under intense public and media scrutiny, he made a dedicated effort to identify any issues that needed attention, whether related to Hong Kong's economic policies or to relationships with colleagues or other Legislative Council members.
Careful analysis is essential to solving problems and rallying support from others, he noted. "For starters, young people must accept that life can be unfair and they must be willing to make sacrifices before they can turn things to their advantage. The key is to stay passionate and positive, and to work consistently toward the larger goal."
Mr Ma advised young professionals to build solid networks and to stay humble in dealings with others. While courtesy is essential in business communications, the ability to think out of the box is crucial to career advancement. Employees should understand their companies' business needs and propose ideas that could boost revenue.
He cautioned professionals to take responsibility for failure, even if it is beyond their control. "A winner takes charge and resolves problems on the path to success. By blaming things on external factors or bad luck, you're heading down a route of constant failure."
Making shrewd decisions
Taken from Career Times 13 April 2012, A12
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