After a period of stagnation in the construction industry earlier in the decade, Hong Kong is set to profit from an era of prosperity.
"Cyclically, the sector is about to enter a boom period, which makes job opportunities abundant," says Peter Kwan, general manager (compliance) of Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Chun Wo Development Holdings Limited.
Being au fait with the rollercoaster nature of the industry, since its establishment in 1968 as a sole proprietorship in small- and medium-sized construction and contracting projects, Chun Wo has concentrated on diversification both in business terms and geographic regions.
Today, the conglomerate has an extensive scope of expertise including foundations, building construction, civil engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, interior design and refurbishments. Its core competencies also cover overall management and control of multi-disciplinary construction activities.
Beyond its central focus on construction, Chun Wo has extended its business scope to property development and investments alongside property management and security services. Its construction and property development projects are widely distributed in mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Vietnam and Abu Dhabi, in addition to its base in Hong Kong.
"Strategically, the group will continue to seek opportunities in other regions, for example, Thailand, the Middle East and second and third tier cities in mainland China, where growth rates are relatively higher. At the same time, our commitment to service quality, which has secured the group's reputation and competitiveness, remains a top priority," Mr Kwan points out.
Over the past decade, regulatory bodies have tightened compliance standards in the industry. However, Mr Kwan explains that Chun Wo has always sought to exceed the basic criteria because of an intrinsic dedication to customer satisfaction.
Indeed, to satisfy specific client demand, Chun Wo has a "zero defect" policy, carried out by an independent quality team to assure end product perfection and superlative after-sales service. "To outperform in the industry with low profit margins, we need to create value in every project by setting up and executing work procedures effectively. This cannot be achieved without competent people, who remain our most important company assets," Mr Kwan notes.
In order to achieve such levels of industrial excellence, Chun Wo has a comprehensive training initiative in place. As a "Scheme A" approved organisation validated by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Chun Wo has participated in the training programme that provides graduate trainees with opportunities to integrate theoretical knowledge with practical skills. While engineers trained through "Scheme A" are expected to take on managerial positions in around 10 years' time, young candidates with outstanding academic records can opt for an even faster track by joining Chun Wo's own elite training programme.
According to Mr Kwan, only applicants who adopt the required work ethos are considered. They must display sound technical knowledge, be proactive when tackling situations, show persistence, demonstrate practicality and remain positive when facing challenges to be admitted to the programme.
The intensive curriculum is intended to encourage young engineers and quantity surveyors to experience all aspects of construction, from design and project management, to commercial management, through job rotations and one-on-one mentoring from the most experienced senior executives. Employees with the necessary acumen and drive can climb the corporate ladder in as little as seven years.
"With our expansive project portfolio, we are capable of providing our future leaders with full exposure in construction engineering and property management. In the long run, our continuous exploration in overseas markets secures varied career prospects for our people," Mr Kwan adds.
To encourage self-advancement, a sponsorship allowance of HK$5,000 to HK$40,000 is available for staff who devote their time to continuous professional development by taking relevant educational programmes. In addition, internal training in an array of subjects and disciplines is regularly offered to sharpen technical knowledge and management skills.
In a joint effort with local academics, Chun Wo also plays a vital role in nurturing the talent pool for the industry through active involvement in university programmes and research studies, as well as offering scholarships to students who excel academically.
Placing a heavy emphasis on the balance between work and life, Chun Wo has set up its own recreation committee to organise events such as badminton, basketball, and soccer on a regular basis. For the community at large, Chun Wo coordinates volunteer programmes, which include visits to elderly homes and the Community Chest of Hong Kong's Walk for Millions which saw employees from a cross section of disciplines at Chun Wo rally together to support the less fortunate.