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Sales / Marketing

Perfect solutions

by Wendy Shair

Irene Lee
director, human resources and administration
Ricoh Hong Kong Limited
Photo: Dickie Tam

Imaging and office-automation technologies provider steps up human resources development amid boom in service sales

Effective information management contributes to a great extent, although often imperceptibly, to business efficiency, fuelling a soaring demand for related sales and consultancy services as a result. Leading supplier of document systems and office solutions Ricoh Hong Kong is well aware of this trend and so pays premiums to attract and retain top talent in the field.

Providing both hard and soft skills training is the way to nurture talent and a key strategy for moving a business forward, says Irene Lee, director, human resources and administration, Ricoh Hong Kong. At the same time, Ms Lee adds, it is also important to boost staff morale through various incentives, which, in Ricoh Hong Kong's case, includes a handful of bonus schemes, as well as performance-linked awards.

Up to speed

It is a known fact that corporate sales professionals must enjoy meeting with people and be good listeners. But with the company's clients hailing from sectors as varied as information technology, business and education, Ricoh Hong Kong makes a point to ensure that al its sales staff are also equipped with the necessary skills and know-how to cater for the needs of a wide array of industry-specific office automation needs.

Even the most experienced employees must continue to learn in order to keep abreast of new trends and products and are encouraged to enrol in relevant certification programmes. Aside from this, the company gives its employees proprietary access to Ricoh's own online training modules to enhance their customer-service techniques, which are very much the icing on the cake.

"Our customers include large multinational enterprises, as well as small- and medium-sized firms so it is particularly important that our staff understand and display sensitivity to specific clients' information management needs and requirements," Ms Lee emphasises.

In addition to a portfolio of skills training, Ricoh Hong Kong also offers Enneagram training to help staff get a better understanding of their customers. "We believe the personality development courses facilitate development and help our people to become more dynamic and tuned into our customers' needs," she remarks.

People-management skills are even more important than technical knowledge for some senior positions. "We seek people with common sense. It may sound basic, but this attribute is a prerequisite for someone working in a managerial position," she says.

A personal touch

Opportunities for professional growth provide staff with prospects and motivation but Ricoh Hong Kong realises that it takes a great deal more to achieve the company's employee engagement goals. "We believes that it is essential for staff to maintain a healthy work-life balance," Ms Lee explains. "We want our staff to work hard and play hard." For this reason, the company's staff well-being schedule comprises a broad range of activities and programmes like stress management courses.

The company's efforts to create a positive working environment have also resulted in a low turnover rate. "It's a chain effect," says Ms Lee. "We strive for our employees to work well together at all times and this practice will continue to pay dividends."

In view of the importance of new talent to business sustainability, Ricoh Hong Kong offers a promising career path for job candidates who demonstrate potential for development. "In our efforts to attract new blood to the industry, we regularly host campus recruitment exercises and talks," Ms Lee adds, pointing out that Ricoh Hong Kong remains optimistic primarily because of its strong reputation.

The company has a long-term development strategy, particularly for its sales people. Fresh recruits are mentored by senior professionals, who help to enhance internal communications and give the newcomers a better sense of the sector.

"Sideways moves provide high-performing staff room for further growth," Ms Lee stresses. "We therefore encourage job rotations, which effectively increase the individuals' exposure to various aspects of our business and ensure that they develop multiple skills. This, in turn, increases their chances for promotion and mobility. With a shortage of talent in Hong Kong, we're also in a good position to attract staff from overseas. In fact, we have set up various forums to foster exchange between our international offices."

Ricoh's Hong Kong operation, currently employing about 800 people, aims to increase its workforce to more than 1,000 over the next three years, according to Ms Lee. Its 180-strong sales team is set to increase by another 40 this year.

People strategy

  • Comprehensive training develops and retains talented staff
  • Staff equipped to cater for large and smaller business across industries
  • Healthy work-life balance promoted
  • Promising career path and opportunities for job rotation encourage performance

Taken from Career Times 8 April 2011, B2


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