While most people are familiar with the powerful image of a person lifting up a number plate at an auction and bidding millions of Hong Kong dollars on a piece of land, this is just the beginning of a long process.
Working in the property sector is all-encompassing. "You have to know property development, leasing and sales, and talk to customers even make sure that the washroom is clean. You have to be be prepared to learn the nitty-gritty," says Alice Ip, Sino Land's executive director.
Its management training programme - launched eight years ago - received some 9,000 applications in 2011, with 7,500 from the mainland. Sino Land hired about 20 candidates.
The training programme has been refined several times to respond to business requirements, and the 18-month course now has three rotations.
In the sales and marketing stage, trainees study the kinds of properties people look for and how to sell new projects. In the leasing stage, they learn how to manage investment property and shopping centres. Finally, in the property management stage, they come to understand how best to maintain brand image.
To broaden the horizons of management trainees, there is structured training and periodic exposure to large-scale investor relations meetings, media events, sales roadshows in China and sales launches of new properties.
"When there are opportunities for exposure, we bring [the trainees]. The management, including the chairman, gives them a lot of guidance. With this kind of visibility and exposure, we hope to develop them into more rounded individuals," Ip says.
Following Sino Land's mission, "to... understand the needs of customers and consistently surpass their expectations", trainees also work in the customer relations department. At the end of each rotation, they must prepare an executive presentation of their notes and recommendations. "The programme prepares trainees to anticipate and solve problems, effectively manage projects and people, and meet the continuous challenges of the business," Ip says.
Sino Land's core values of integrity, putting the customer first, teamwork, improvement, preparedness and sense of urgency indicate the kind of people who will fit in.
Nelson Leung, who joined as a corporate management trainee in 2006 and who is now a senior manager with Sino Security Services, says he most enjoyed a study trip to China where the team conducted property market research. The trip took in four cities, where the students talked to locals and gathered information about target properties, before preparing recommendations.
Leung says applicants should prepare for the interview by checking Sino Land's website and annual reports, and other mass media that can help them them find out about the latest projects and future development plans of the company.