Nowadays if you are working in a major industry, it is often no longer enough to do well in your job. Career advancement can depend as much on obtaining additional professional and academic qualifications in order to keep pace with the competition and stay ahead of subordinates.
Anita Ko, who graduated from Lingnan University (then Lingnan College) in 1992 with an honours diploma in marketing and is now senior marketing manager for Hongkong Land, experienced just that. Having worked since graduation for a number of major organisations in marketing roles, she switched to the field of public relations. She has continued to study external courses and has had ample opportunity to put into practice the diverse skills learned.
Most notably, she was involved in the organisation of the 2001 Fortune Global Forum which attracted former presidents, prime ministers and the CEOs of multinational corporations, along with around 1,500 journalists from all over the world.
"Marketing and public relations are all about communicating your ideas and helping people solve their problems," she says. "The ability to market yourself is also very important in our field and throughout your career. The course at Lingnan enhanced my communication and presentation skills, both of which are crucial in the type of work I now do."
She highlights in particular the programme's project-based approach, which included developing the ability to analyse and present key concepts, as a major advantage, plus the emphasis Lingnan places on Putonghua and general education courses. These covered subjects such as business ethics, logic and aesthetics and helped her to develop knowledge and abilities of immediate use in the workplace.
Nevertheless, realising that further education was essential in order to make progress in her profession, Ms Ko decided in 2000 to take a Master's degree in marketing in the UK. She also did additional research into current best practices. As a result, she regularly stresses to younger colleagues that they should always be willing to pursue continuing education, and that having the right attitude is the key to career success.
"In the past, we would never complain about the nature of our jobs or the general work environment, but that seems to have changed now," she says. "Young people shouldn't be too calculating when it comes to work and should understand that they need to adapt to a company. This is also what Lingnan has taught me." Over the years, Ms Ko has seen some significant changes. She notes especially that in the past the marketing team was usually involved only in the later stages of a project. Nowadays, they play a more important and dynamic role in building and enhancing the corporate image, as well as in dealing with challenging day-to-day issues.
Her role with Hongkong Land requires awareness of how to build sustainable growth for the company. It also entails an understanding of the objectives and details of various projects, like the ongoing refurbishments of Hongkong Land's properties, and collaborations with the government in enhancing the environment of Central
In terms of the general prospects for people in marketing, Ms Ko is optimistic. "Compared to the US, Hong Kong is still developing its view of the marketing role and its importance in a company," she says. "I am sure there is a lot of room for growth, but new graduates need to keep learning in order to take up the challenge and make the most of those opportunities."