To call Molly Lam an epicure is an understatement. With an enviably slender figure that contradicts her constant craving for culinary experiences, her decade-long career reveals every evidence for her insatiable hankering for more than just good food.
Ms Lam realised her plate was only half-full when she started a career in the retail sector. An energetic disposition subsequently urged her to look elsewhere, and so in 1999 she joined Maxim's Cake. Her first position there was as district manager, in charge of eight shops across Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai. A year later, she was part of the launch team for Starbucks when Maxim's Group introduced the international brand to Hong Kong.
"Along with seven colleagues I underwent training in the US for three months. I considered myself very lucky," Ms Lam recalls. "Starbucks is acclaimed for its quality products and business integrity, which are priorities of Maxim's Group. During training I learnt a lot about managing a branded coffee shop."
Hard work always pays dividends. In 2006, Ms Lam was handed another challenge —m anaging Genki Sushi.
"It was a life-enriching and gastronomically satisfying experience, to say the least," she says. "One time we tasted 90 types of sushi in one afternoon."
Immersed in a new environment, Ms Lam took on increased responsibilities. Aside from managing the growing chain of Genki restaurants, she developed a keen focus on marketing, human resources and staff training. In just three years, Genki Sushi has developed into a network of 37 shops across Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, Ms Lam was made divison manager of Maxim's Cakes, the place she called home 10 years ago and it is now a 160-shop household name under the umbrella of the Maxim's Group.
"Now it's time to see things from a different perspective," she says. "This is also an excellent chance for me to reflect on my career."
Similar to making a lip-smacking cake, a gratifying career is made from a blend of the most appropriate and nutritious ingredients.
"I'm keen on developing a career and Maxim's Group has exactly what I need," Ms Lam says.
"Every business has a people focus"
Over its 53 years' history, Maxim's Group has grown into a conglomerate that operates a business portfolio of 70-plus brands and more than 680 outlets staffed by 14,000.
"Different brands have their unique positions and customer segments that are met by different business strategies," she explains.
Regardless of her position, Ms Lam has always sought to give her best. "Maxim's Group has been supporting me and I take it as my responsibility to contribute to the group's further success," she emphasises, adding that the group now has a strong foothold in Hong Kong and a growing presence on the mainland, and that this is the kind of career platform that every aspirant should look for.
"I've only been involved in three of the group's brands but these have given me great exposure to frontline operations and management as well as back office administration — all the necessary experience that helped me lay a solid career foundation," she notes.
Always ready for more, Ms Lam recently took on a new role as project leader of Maxim's' management trainee programme.
"This particular undertaking entailed a range of specialist duties like recruitment, programme design and project implementation," she says. "It's a good thing I got help from very resourceful colleagues in our staff development and human resources departments."
Service in mind
Aspirations aside, Ms Lam believes that a resolute service mindset and a capacity to manage change are the keys to success in the business arena. "Satisfying customers' changing needs and fostering long-term relationships with them give the most satisfaction," she notes. "You must have a passion for people and service. Customer satisfaction makes our jobs meaningful and important."
Building rapport with colleagues is also indispensable, and she makes it a point to visit her frontline colleagues every once in a while — even during off times.
"If I happen to be around a Maxim's outlet I'd just drop by and say hello," she says. "Every business has a people focus. Simply follow your heart and put yourself in other people's shoes."
She reiterates that part of her job is to make people around her feel good. This, she states is aligned with Maxim's Group's corporate vision — to be "a company of three beneficiaries — the employee, the customer and the company".
"First and foremost, the group ensures all Maxim's staff eat well," Ms Lam says. "Among other incentives, we have a staff discount that gives us the privilege to have a feast at any Maxim's outlet," she expands.
Quite a celebrity cook among friends, Ms Lam takes great pleasure in the culinary art whenever she is not eating out. "Cooking can be a nice way to let off steam," she says.