More ups than downs

by Lou Henry

Hugo Martinho
group human resources director
Jardine Schindler Group
Photo: Edde Ngan

Construction boom fuels demand for elevators and escalators

With construction booming and new skyscrapers rising daily on a global scale, the elevator and escalator industry is experiencing phenomenal growth which provides exciting opportunities for young engineers.

Jardine Schindler Group, a joint venture combining Schindler technology with Jardine regional expertise, is keen to nurture top talent to become the company's future leaders. In April this year it launched a Schindler career development programme (SCDP), a formal channel to ensure on-the-job training which has already formed part of the company's ethos for some time. The group's human resources director Hugo Martinho believes the programme offers participants the opportunity to turn their potential into real material results. "Participants in this development programme are not just trainees," he says. "They are given real operational responsibilities."

The SCDP is a unique combination of benefits and opportunities. Participants work on essential, concrete tasks and their responsibilities grow throughout the programme. They gain international experience during a mandatory two-year international rotational placement and through the company's vast network. Mr Martinho adds, "We give responsibilities early and at every stage these are increased, either through greater budget management or increased manpower responsibilities."

Individual attention is guaranteed as recruits develop towards their leadership goals with a personalised training schedule, clear targets and comprehensive feedback. They also have a guided accelerated career path that includes mentoring from senior managers and fast promotional cycles. "There is also a promise that after graduation from the programme a management position will be offered," he notes.

Deliverable promises

Spanning six years the programme covers three functional career tracks — engineering, field operations and business administration. The programme is divided into three stages, each lasting two years, during which participants are expected to rotate around the different tracks.

This ensures graduates entering as engineers are not necessarily forced into becoming technical managers upon graduation. They may spend the third and fourth years in sales and decide to continue in this field rather than return to engineering. This compulsory shift allows participants to expand their skills and experience the multi-faceted nature of the industry while also providing them with the opportunities to develop professionally and perhaps move into new areas not previously covered during their university studies.

Personalised and tailored to the participant's individual developmental needs and managerial capacity, the training is both diversified and intensive covering the core business areas of project management, leadership, sales and finance. "If someone is strong technically but lacking leadership skills or language skills, we can focus on that aspect of the training," Mr Martinho says.

Encouraging leadership is one of the main aims of the SCDP. The company is sincere in its promise that graduates will become the next managers. Indeed, Mr Martinho himself was made human resources director of the company's office in Portugal at the age of 27. "The company is remarkable in rewarding employees who display nerve, skill and business acumen," he says.

The SCDP candidates are required to have a master's degree, high level English proficiency and the willingness to travel internationally for at least the third and fourth years of the programme. Jardine Schindler offers placements in the wider Asia Pacific region providing an excellent opportunity for Hong Kong graduates eager to broaden their horizons with international experience.

As well as these requirements, the company holds involvement in extra curricular activities in high regard alongside an entrepreneurial mindset. "To be in R&D (research and development) you need less structure and more creativity," he says, quashing suggestions that engineers need only be good with numbers. "Our R&D team is like a miniature United Nations. We have people from all over the world working in ways to make our products more efficient and user-friendly. For instance, in the past, elevator motors were stationary at either the top or bottom of a building where they took up a lot of space. Our engineers devised a way to fix the motor to the elevator and this essentially allows for another whole floor to be accessed in every building."

With an average of only seven applicants accepted into the programme every year, competition is fierce but Mr Martinho adds there is no secret formula for admission. "We want highly educated people who have an inquisitive mind and common sense, who want to make a difference and will question and challenge how things are done," he says. In return, recruits can expect a pragmatic and informal work environment in a multinational company, the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and an exciting career.


Taken from Career Times 26 October 2007
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