Career Path

Japanese chain seeks fresh talent

by Wendy Shair

Genki Sushi Hong Kong Ltd seeks fresh talent
Tam Chi Kee (left), shop manager
Kathy Lee (second from right), human resources manager
Michael Chan (right), operations services officer
Genki Sushi Hong Kong Ltd
Yip Yuk Hong, head of operations, Japanese Chain Restaurants, Maxim's Group
Photo: Nolly Leung

Japanese cuisine is widely renowned for its simplicity, use of quality ingredients and chefs' utter dedication to their craft. Consequently, top restaurants in this sector quickly snap up the best talent, with sushi chain Genki Sushi Hong Kong no exception.

The company's Hong Kong operation currently employs more than 1,700 full- and part-time staff and aims to increase this figure in line with its continued expansion.

Sushi Master Tam Chi Kee, shop manager, Genki Sushi, recently took on the challenge of moving to Guangzhou to run the company's first outlet in the province after gaining solid experience in Hong Kong and benefiting from a work exchange to Japan.

"This opportunity has given me the chance to use both my Japanese-cooking and shop-management skills. The company encourages us to embrace new prospects, and working on the mainland has certainly broadened my horizons," says Mr Tam, who launched his career as a part-time cook in 2000.

After a year, he was promoted to supervisor. A consistently good performance record led to further moves up to become assistant shop manager in 2006 and shop manager in 2007.

Career progression

The most rewarding aspect of his working life so far has been his Sushi Master accreditation, notes Mr Tam. "The training in Japan was also memorable. It was amazing to see how Japanese chefs achieve the best results with limited manpower."

A love of the Genki Sushi culture is essential for newcomers wanting to join the organisation, he stresses. They must also uphold the highest food standards and enjoy dealing with customers, who are treated like friends.

"The company has provided me with good career-development opportunities and given me the chance to identify my career goals at different stages," he says, noting that management has also inspired him to come up with new ideas. Mr Tam is dedicated to developing the China market for Genki Sushi. "The best thing about being on the frontline is that we learn something new every day."

Cultural influences

Another key Genki Sushi leader is Michael Chan, operations services officer, who started his career as a part-time cook in 2001. His position soon became full-time, and he was promoted to supervisor in 2005, followed by assistant shop manager a year later. After further progressing in the back office, he took up his current position in 2009.

Having worked both on the frontline and in management, Mr Chan reflects that his hands-on roles at the beginning gave him a solid foundation to advance in the back office later on.

Potential candidates must have a passion for Japanese culture and for food, he stresses. "We learn a lot here. Japanese dishes are characterised by good quality and an esthetic appearance."

The company offers diverse career-advancement opportunities in the kitchen, front office and other areas, and there is a chance to learn a wide range of cooking and management techniques, he adds, noting that new recruits must be highly adaptable. "My aim for the foreseeable future is to increase operations support for the company and to advance my abilities in this area."

Hiring drive

Genki Sushi hopes to recruit more than 100 new staff members at a recruitment day in Tsim Sha Tsui East store on 10 October. Among the candidates targeted will be waiters and sushi apprentices. There will also be positions available for leadership roles, such as shop managers. Starting salaries kick off at HK$8,400 per month plus allowances and overtime pay.

The growing company, which launched six new shops between January and September, plans to open four new outlets towards the end of the year. "Each shop requires about 20 full-time and 10 part-time staff, and all employees are required to undergo training. We want to hire responsible and committed individuals," says Yip Yuk Hong, head of operations, Japanese Chain Restaurants, Maxim's Group, which is Genki Sushi's parent company. "We offer excellent career-progression opportunities."

The company also offers good remuneration packages, including allowances and 12 days' paid leave per year, points out Kathy Lee, human resources manager, Genki Sushi. As part of its talent-management practices, the organisation identifies candidates with high potential to fill senior roles offering wider exposure. "We welcome anyone with the right attitude and a true interest in the job," she concludes.

Genki Sushi Hong Kong Ltd offers excellent career-progression opportunities

Taken from Career Times 1 October 2011

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