Sales / Marketing

Grooming future leaders

by Grace Chan

Lim Meng-teng (left), founder and managing director
Elaine Kong, human resources manager
Neo Derm Group Ltd
Photo: Lewis Lau

Cosmetic dermatology group believes that investing in talent development pays dividends

Customers, business partners and employees are all integral to commercial success, and keeping staff happy is especially important to running a thriving business.

To build a contented and engaged workforce, it is crucial to provide staff with an environment where they can fulfil their potential and grow professionally and personally, says Lim Meng-teng, founder and managing director, Neo Derm Group Ltd.

With this in mind, Neo Derm plans to set up a "beauty training institute" in collaboration with universities and education organisations, customising a certificate programme, a professional diploma in management studies programme, as well as an MBA programme, for Neo Derm staff.

"Due to our niche market position, it's not always easy to recruit the right staff externally. In order to be a world-class provider of aesthetic medical solutions, we need to groom our own people. We believe it's also our responsibility as an employer to devote substantial resources to staff training and development," Mr Lim adds.

Strategic growth

Established in 1997, Neo Derm has seen an average of 30 to 50 per cent year-on-year revenue growth in recent years. The company now operates 15 treatment centres of three renowned brands, namely, reenex neo-collagen treatment centre, dermes permanent laser hair removal centre and Elyze body rejuvenation centre.

The company plans to open five more treatment centres and recruit 200 new employees this year, including frontline staff such as beauty therapists and operations managers. There will be an additional 10 vacancies for service-oriented sales and marketing professionals.

Last year, Neo Derm commenced mainland service with a treatment centre in Shanghai. "Since we currently only tap about one per cent of the women's market, there's ample scope for growth in Hong Kong, let alone mainland China," says Mr Lim. "We're in a position to leverage our successful business model in Hong Kong to expand our mainland presence."

Mr Lim stresses that the group's business development plan allows for talented and ambitious employees to move into managerial positions within three years.

"Some of our frontline employees dream of pursuing a university degree and we're committed to providing them with the means of fulfilling that goal," says Mr Lim.

Neo Derm's key to staying competitive and continuing to expand in a competitive and fast-changing industry is to develop its niche market and the services that differentiate it.

"It's therefore important that we have good marketing people that can communicate our brand values and strengths to potential customers," says Mr Lim. The marketing division is one of the company's three core business units, currently employing about 80 staff.

Candidates for marketing positions must have specific experience in the beauty or fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry and demonstrate strong leadership and strategic business development skills, Ms Kong says.

Staff engagement

Customer service excellence is a priority at Neo Derm, so the bar is set high for new recruits. The group favours beauty therapists with International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) and CIBTAC examination board qualifications and at least three years' work experience. Candidates with little or no work experience will be considered as trainees.

All new therapists undergo a three-month intensive starter programme featuring classroom lectures and hands-on training, including dermatology knowledge, customer service skills and those for operating the latest beauty equipment.

"Only after our therapists have passed all internal assessments do we allow them to start serving clients," explains Elaine Kong, human resources manager, Neo Derm Group Ltd.

The group runs various initiatives to retain its valuable human resources. One upcoming example is a complimentary trip to Japan or Thailand for more than 600 Hong Kong-based staff by the end of March. "Times have been tough, but thanks to our employees' efforts we maintained a robust growth in turnover last year," points out Mr Lim.

He believes that effective staff engagement measures often boil down to more than financial rewards. One of the company's policies is that staff should get Sundays off, which goes against the norm in the beauty and skincare industry.

"It's important for staff to have a healthy work-life balance. When they are happy, they can serve customers better. If clients are satisfied with our service, they will accept our working schedules," notes Mr Lim.

Deeper values

  • New beauty training institute to further boost staff's industry qualifications
  • Professional development complements personal fulfilment
  • Staff engagement measures help build a happy workforce and improves service excellence

Taken from Career Times 5 February 2010, B5

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