It can be daunting for fresh university graduates to launch themselves into a career. One answer to this common problem is a job programme that allows rotation between a variety of roles.
Angie Woo, assistant general manager, commercial sales, PCCW Limited, joined the company in 1996 through an executive trainee programme and had the chance to experience a number of departments at the telecommunications giant before she finally found her niche in corporate sales.
"I started with global marketing," recalls Ms Woo, who has a bachelor's degree in marketing. However once she rotated into the corporate sales department, the ambitious young aspirant immediately knew it was the perfect field for her. Although Ms Woo still had the opportunity to second to the company's office in Taipei to work in the consumer marketing section as personal assistant to the chief executive, she eventually opted to go back to the corporate sales field in 2002. "If you like to meet people, communicate and expand your world view, this is the job for you," she says.
Now managing a team of 12, serving some of the biggest multinationals based in Hong Kong, Ms Woo believes that a crucial key to success in the field is being able to step into clients' shoes.
"In order to understand and meet client needs, we must be familiar with the products we are selling and have an excellent understanding of changing industry trends," Ms Woo stresses.
Since the job involves selling products and services ranging from the entire telecommunications platform to individual computers, sales members must have the necessary insight in order to create an all-win deal, she says.
Being a professional corporate salesperson therefore involves a great deal more than just making cold calls. It is important to be skilled at managing client expectations. Relationship building is a crucial part of this, according to Ms Woo.
She concedes that competition is fierce within the industry and it is by no means easy to sign new deals and retain existing clients. "It requires a good understanding of your competitors in the market and the differences between what you offer and what they offer. In addition, you must make the best use possible of the company's resources to provide the optimum service to your client," she adds.
In addition to providing product training, PCCW also offers its sales team the opportunity to develop "fun skills", such as wine tasting, golfing and salsa dancing. "We want our sales staff to be well-rounded, as this makes it easier for them to establish good relationships with our clients through common interests," says Ms Woo.
Prospective entrants into the field should possess an open-minded and sociable personality. People from varying backgrounds can be successful in sales, as long as they are hardworking and have good communication skills.
"When you start off your career, it is helpful to find a position where you can build up a lot of experience. Once you have that, it becomes much easier to move up the career ladder," Ms Woo points out.
The fact that PCCW provides staff with the opportunity to rotate through different departments, and offers the possibility of vertical or horizontal promotions, inspires success stories within the company.
"PCCW has a diverse range of businesses, allowing employees to move up within departments or across different segments to help with the development of new skill sets," confirms Ida Mok, vice president, human resources, PCCW.
With more than 16,000 employees, one of the company's keys to success is its investment in people, says Ms Mok, explaining that the policy of internal promotion is an important part of keeping staff motivated. "Our employees to grow with the company and we believe this is the way to optimise business results."
By retaining staff, the company finds that teams build on a set of common values, ensuring the success of the entire organisation.
Ms Mok, who liaises closely with the various department managers, points out that PCCW management is open-minded when it comes to staff mobility, and supports employees who have the necessary qualifications for upwards and lateral developments.
"The company has such a vast range of different businesses spreading across different countries that the possibilities are endless," she remarks.