Beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder, but those who work in the beauty products and services industry believe that attractiveness really comes from within.
"Naturally, all of us would like to look good, but I believe that good health is the true key to physical beauty," says Yvonne Tang, retail training manager of leading cosmetic dermatology group Neo Derm (HK) Ltd. This is why she looked for a job that combined the concepts of beauty and health on completion of her studies in food and nutrition.
Before taking up her current position, Ms Tang worked in the retail beauty industry for six years, designing and delivering in-house training on health and beauty products and services to staff. Her role with Neo Derm, which incorporates about 10 brands of products and services, including reenex skin rejuvenation centre, Elyze intelligent shaping centre and dermes laser hair removal centre, is much more varied.
"Around 50 per cent of my time is spent on a staff orientation programme, which is important to the company. New employees undergo about six to eight weeks of in-house training, during which they learn not only the theories behind our products and services, but also the best way to present the information to customers," Ms Tang notes.
The tasks of the retail training team do not stop after the induction of new staff. The team must ensure that new employees have received sufficient classroom tuition and hands-on practice to pass the company's internal examinations, and closely monitor their individual performance for the first six months of service.
"The number one rule for working in this business is that you must be passionate about it"
"New advanced products and techniques enter the medical beauty field every day. Our people must keep up with the latest advances in order to stay ahead. One of my tasks is therefore to make sure that our employees are accomplished users of the most up-to-date technology," Ms Tang points out.
Whenever the company brings in a new piece of equipment (usually from different countries in Europe), Ms Tang and her team launch an educational campaign to ensure that the staff learns to use it properly. The producers' instructions and advice are studied and digested, after which a series of lectures and demonstrations by doctors or experts from overseas follow. Only once the staff is completely versed in using the equipment will they get the go-ahead to use it on clients.
Apart from technical know-how, Neo Derm also has a strong learning culture. Personal development for staff members is encouraged and a variety of training programmes, such as Six Sigma, consultative selling skills, languages, neuro-linguistic programmes (NLP) and customer experience management (CEM), are offered.
The company also has a self-empowerment programme for selected employees with outstanding performance to learn to handle stress and how to relax.
Neo Derm employs professional services from external specialists for its staff development programmes. The company will, for instance, arrange for Mandarin lessons for its staff at a language school and custom-made NLP courses in cooperation with training consultants.
Ms Tang has also equipped herself through a variety of training programmes. She has just undergone two days of training in Singapore, which focused on extending her competencies beyond hard skills and selling techniques in order to meet customer needs.
"From our frequent cooperation with training professionals, I have found that many enterprises these days upgrade their overall performance through staff training. I feel privileged to work for a company that has been investing considerable resources in its human assets for many years," Ms Tang remarks.
The group is currently planning to expand to the mainland China market. In preparation for the challenge, Ms Tang and the Neo Derm team have travelled to the mainland several times to identify potential business opportunities and gain first-hand experience by visiting venues such as hospitals, spas, clinics and treatment centres.
Back in Hong Kong, Ms Tang often attends beauty expositions and events to stay abreast of trends. Even when she is not working, she pays extra attention to beauty-related issues, both out of personal interest and for the sake of her career.
"The number one rule for working in this business is that you must be passionate about it. My job is worth much more to me than just money," she stresses.
"In addition, we should equip ourselves to embrace change at all times," Ms Tang adds. "Apart from changing hardware, concepts also evolve from one day to the next. Today's customers are willing to pay more for visible results. Particularly when it comes to facial and body treatments, current trends are much more equipment focused."
Ms Tang is currently involved in the new Neo Derm "vision mission value" project to reinforce company culture and enhance customer service and she is looking forward to expanding her career with the company. "There are numerous chances here, both cross-boundary and cross-position," she concludes.