Career Path

Setting the tone

by Anna Tong

Kelvin Hui
general manager
electrical appliances division
Dah Chong Hong Ltd
Photo: Edde Ngan
A job in the sales sector can be the beginning of a gratifying career.

Currently general manager, electrical appliances division, Dah Chong Hong Ltd (DCH), Mr Hui started out by joining the publicly listed international trading group's management trainee programme after graduating from the University of Hong Kong in 1978.

The training involved rotations through a number of the company's departments. "That was a good opportunity for me, since it gave me great exposure," he recalls.

Half-way through the programme, he was assigned to DCH's electrical appliances division and introduced to "brown goods" (electronic consumer durables), including AV equipment. In that role, Mr Hui got the chance to expand this segment of the business as new technologies emerged.

Once he had built up extensive knowledge, the company charged him with exploring new markets, and particularly those on mainland China once the country's economy started opening up in 1979.

"When I first set my foot in China, it took me some time to adapt to the mainland way of doing things and I slowly learnt, feeling my way through and having lots of interesting experiences," he says.

New prospects arose and Mr Hui found himself, after 10 years in the job, in charge of a number of brands falling under the division.

"Dah Chong Hong became one of the very first distributors and a leading company to introduce hi-fi systems to the mainland in 1988 and we were one of the few to penetrate the market with high-end AV products," Mr Hui adds.

Varied responsibilities

Mr Hui not only appreciates the perfect sound quality produced by a top hi-fi system, his in-depth knowledge of the AV product market is also second to none.

Aside from developing the mainland market, Mr Hui's current role also involves overseeing operations for the entire division and formulating strategies for the Hong Kong market, evaluating specific brands' market positions and identifying gaps.

He has learnt that trends can be fleeting and that it is always wise to pursue new opportunities with caution: "Business cycles can be short and the mainland markets change very rapidly, so we need to remain strong when it comes to organisation, training and systems."

The pace of technological development, combined with massive growth across the border, makes a career in this field exhilarating. He notes, "There are new developments every day, particularly when it comes to hi-fi products."

His additional tasks include daily staff meetings to discuss and review sales, stocks and financial reports, as well as maintaining close contact with suppliers, whether it is to obtain prompt information on new products or to address business issues.

Good communication skills are therefore essential. "In this business, we get to liaise with people from many technical and cultural backgrounds," he says.

Sound advice

While there are plenty of career opportunities in AV sales, young jobseekers interested in the field should have an open mind and a genuine interest in the sector. This will drive them to keep abreast of the latest technologies through lots of reading and by closely communicating with suppliers.

"If you're really passionate about the AV profession, you develop a sense of responsibility, and the more you do, the happier you become," Mr Hui concedes.

DCH's new Hong Kong showroom displays an array of both high-end and standard hi-fi systems and the sales team takes a personal approach, emphasising client relations and customer service rather than hard-sell tactics, points out Mr Hui.

He adds, "AV products are not like other consumer items that people buy regularly. Understanding client needs are a crucial part of the sales process because customer satisfaction will determine whether they will return to us in future."

China opportunities

When DCH first broke into the mainland China market, Mr Hui went to great lengths to educate mainlanders on quality AV products. "We showcased our hi-fi systems by renting a theatre in Guangzhou and selling tickets at RMB10 to attract our target clients," he remembers. Initially, DCH did not have an office on the mainland and Mr Hui stuck to promoting products until he had drummed up enough demand. At that point, four offices were established simultaneously. These days, he spends half his time across the border and sees great potential, given the market's rapid growth and maturation. Considering the company's substantial presence in mainland China, there is plenty of scope for Hong Kong sales and technical AV professionals to develop their careers there. He reveals, "Lots of mainland clients are now into luxury lifestyle brands."

Taken from Career Times 26 November 2010, B10

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