Property / Construction

No borders

by Wendy Shair

Chris Perry
head of people and services
EC Harris Built Asset Consultancy
Photo: Lewis Wong

International firm provides comprehensive built asset advice to diverse industries

Successfully taking on the competition in Hong Kong's tough construction and property industry requires a skilled and experienced workforce that meets stringent industry standards and has a positive regional and global outlook.

A leading international consultancy working in the real estate, infrastructure and construction sectors, EC Harris Built Asset Consultancy understands the importance of holding on to high performers. Part of the firm's HR strategy is to offer challenging and diverse career options, but its first talent management step is to recruit the best candidates, says Chris Perry, head of people and services, EC Harris.

With a varied service-sector portfolio ranging from transportation to utilities, oil, gas, chemicals, retail, property, energy and manufacturing, the company's employees benefit from myriad development opportunities.

Mr Perry points out however that consultancies can only succeed if they create a positive outlook for their clients consistently. EC Harris acts as a trusted adviser, helping organisations plan and execute strategies that optimise the construction, operation, use and ownership of built assets-in other words, to help them make the most of their investment and expenditure in built assets.

In order to do this, the firm relies on the skills and expertise of its people. "Since our 500-strong workforce in Asia consists of an army of in-house risk managers, legal experts, project managers, engineers, designers and architects, we're able to understand our clients' needs and can offer them comprehensive advice," Mr Perry notes.

In turn, EC Harris' clientele, which hail from so many industries and disciplines, give the firm's employees exemplary all-round experience. "We have strong business strategies planned for the year ahead and are looking to hire new talent with core skills sets, experience and the right attitude," he says. "Many of our customers are major industry players and we want to be certain that our employees are equipped to work on wide-ranging projects."

Engaged workforce

While acknowledging that its human resources are the consultancy's best asset, Mr Perry stresses the importance of "output thinking" in the workplace. "We're looking for people with strength and character, who know what it takes to make a difference at all times," he explains. "In particular, budding professionals in our graduate programme are given the opportunity to rotate through various departments and to develop their careers as part of a well-structured process."

He points out that EC Harris does not limit people to a typical career route and that someone with the right ability can move through the ranks quickly. In fact, its people are encouraged to "take ownership" of the business by contributing as best they can as partners.

The firm's graduate training programme helps aspiring young talent to grow their potential within the company and teaches them the basics of its operations in the first year or two. "By exposing them to different aspects of our operations, we put them in a position where they can eventually choose the role they're most comfortable in," Mr Perry emphasises.

Mobility is key in today's corporate landscape and staff members are therefore expected to gain overseas exposure. "We have teams from Hong Kong that are currently working in mainland China, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and Dubai," he points out.

Looking ahead

Mr Perry is positive about the outlook for the industries that the company serves and finds that its clients are constantly taking on new long-term projects. "The infrastructure sector will continue to grow and I anticipate more opportunities in the corporate-estate area. Some funds and investors are returning to Hong Kong and this, too, will lead to long-term business growth," he explains.

The mainland retail sector, supported by robust economic growth, is a key focus for EC Harris, Mr Perry reveals. "Our integrated services offer customers added value. Our multifaceted capabilities enable us to offer creative solutions to the most innovative industries. Clients are becoming more demanding, but we can rise to the challenge."

He enjoys the fact that every day is different in his line of work. "There's always something new and the job is very exciting. Every new challenge brings an opportunity," he says, adding that maintaining a good work-life balance helps to keep him and his colleagues motivated and interested.

Building on diverse skills

  • Recruiting the best talent is the first step in talent management
  • Varied service-sector portfolio provides staff with myriad development opportunities
  • Employees expected to progress swiftly
  • Graduate training programme and overseas exposure help aspiring individuals to move ahead

Taken from Career Times 4 March 2011, B6

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