Career Path

Networking with confidence

by Martin Williams

Andrew Morris, director, Hong Kong
Robert Half Hong Kong
Photo: Nolly Leung

A wide people network and extensive commercial exposure are among the keys to success for Andrew Morris, director of the Hong Kong office of financial recruitment specialist Robert Half International.

Mr Morris notes that he has always been ambitious and goal oriented, partly thanks to his father who ran a successful business and set a good example.

After completing a bachelor's degree in marketing and economics at university, Mr Morris entered an accountancy practice but soon realised it was not the right place for him. With a passion for people, he then switched to insurance, where the emphasis was on relationship building. "I love interacting with people, solving problems and working customers through difficult situations," he says. "It's very satisfying when you can do that, especially when a customer has an issue. I tend to focus on fixing the situation, rather than over-analysing a problem."

Later, Mr Morris saw an opening for a sales director role in Malaysia. Thinking it would be an amazing role with an international firm, he applied and subsequently got the job. As this was his first experience in Malaysia, he found he had to learn about the culture, and work through language barriers. Additionally his new role was more demanding — it entailed managing a team of 30, blending accounting, sales, with marketing tasks. "It was a great experience for me," he says.

People business

However, only a year later, he was lured by the job of relationship manager with Robert Half in Melbourne Australia. It was not long before he found himself well suited to a career in recruitment. In particular, his commercial background gave him insights into those of his candidates, and the ability to communicate effectively with top executives.

"What I love about recruitment is that it's so diverse," he says. "The product is people and no two days are the same."

A lot of recruitment involves networking with people from all walks of life. Mr Morris is perhaps a natural at this — even at four years old, he would happily walk up to strangers and start talking to them.

"Focus on fixing the situation, rather than over-analysing a problem"

"Be confident and open up yourself to rejection, don't be afraid," advises Mr Morris. "When you start talking to people, ask questions about them, and start uncovering things. If you take a genuine interest, they will tell you a lot more than in general chit-chat. Also, if you are passionate about what you do, and have a high level of energy, people will want to come and talk to you. Although people might not have it in their nature to introduce themselves to others, they can learn with practice."

Cultural sensitivity

In Melbourne, Mr Morris progressed from consultant, to senior consultant, and division manager, and then to senior manager of a new branch. Fuelled by a desire to live in Asia, Mr Morris submitted a business plan, and was assigned as the new director of Robert Half International's Hong Kong office. "I suppose I'm a bit of a risk taker; I like to share my experience with new groups of people," he says.

Here, Mr Morris sees astronomical potential. "From a business perspective, the office is only two years old," he says. "We have opportunities to move into China, and are currently looking at Beijing and Shanghai. We have a lot of market share to take up."

Mr Morris has very varied working days. His responsibilities range from client visits with members of his consultant teams to staff training. "I'm very hands on," he says. "To understand a business, you need to really know the trade," he remarks, noting also that there are ample opportunities for careers in recruitment. However he considers four or five years' commercial experience essential for credibility.

"Satisfaction comes through assisting people, helping them get roles they are passionate about and may otherwise never discover. You must always look long term," says Mr Morris. "The longer you are in a consulting role, the more successful you will be. Do the right things, work hard, and things will always fall into place for you."


Taken from Career Times 21 November 2008, p. B15
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